Salem’s resident mad scientist has a new face. Actor Richard Wharton took on the role of Dr Wilhelm Rolf, succeeding actor Will Utay.
“He’s kind of a jack-of-all-trades genius,” Wharton assesses, noting that the intriguing character needed a recast. when Utay was unavailable to return. “So they held an audition, I auditioned and the next thing I knew I was getting in. I had no idea I was replacing someone. I just thought that was the role of a scientist.
Albeit with a very distinct German accent. “It was part of the audition requirements,” Wharton reveals. “And that’s something I’m still working on. I have done accents in the past. Russian is the one I did a lot. So keeping that separate from German was a bit difficult
After landing the gig, Wharton received the 411 on his alter ego. “I got the basics, that the character had been around for a while,” he shares. “Of course, I researched the role and watched the few episodes I could find online. I looked up William and saw he’s done 850 episodes. So there’s quite a bit of story there that I’m not aware of. I learn a little bit more every day – basically he brought a lot of characters to life, that he was devoted to Stefano and really idolized him , and that he would do anything to preserve his legacy.
Much of the information comes from the cast members. “When I met Drake Hogestyn [John] he was telling me all these things, the interactions that Rolf had had with him,” Wharton says. “It’s like the encyclopedia of the DAYS OF OUR LIVES. So that’s where I learn a lot, from other actors.
The fact that there are no borders with Rolf “is extremely funny”, explains the actor. “I’ve done a lot of wild characters, so this fits my alley perfectly. Also, it’s great to work on a show with such a story that’s handled so well and to have that freedom.
Wharton enjoyed sharing the screen with his new co-stars. “Stacy [Haiduk, Kristen] was great,” enthused Wharton of his first stage partner. “I really love her. Every time I work with her, I’m just happy. She feeds you so much and is a pro. She’s a joy to work with.”
Despite a resume filled with prime-time work and movies, Wharton has no reservations about committing to the day. “It was not necessary to cajole,” he insists. “As an actor, I’m pretty easy on the mediums I work with. I love doing theatre. I did theater for 20 years in Chicago before moving to LA. When I came to LA, I really focused on film and television. I had the chance to do a bit of everything. I worked on a film for three weeks in Bulgaria [DRAGON STORM]. I worked on small roles in different TV shows, and now a longer term piece on a soap opera is really a great asset for me and a great challenge. It’s a welcome addition to my repertoire.