Days’ long term villains tend to be older men. There is a simple reason for this: sex. When you turn someone into a villain, you take them out of the dating pool—at least temporarily. Days has a way of turning all its younger rapists, pimps, and gang members into good guys, so they can couple them up. But, when you do that you need to come up with another bad guy, to fill the gap.
Of course, you need some younger villains around, because our heroes need someone around to get in fistfights with. The actor who plays Harper Deveraux, for instance, is so old and frail that when he took Kim and Kayla captive and was threatening to toss them off a building, it looked like either woman could have taken him out. They were both tied up, but one good headbutt could have laid him flat. Ernesto Toscano and Victor have a physical fight during the Cruise of Deception story, and all I can say about that is that it is mercifully short. The younger villains are also generally better for “wrong man” stories and, well, rape stories.
With older men, you take out the sex angle for the most part. Though it can be a nice bonus if one of them has enough charisma to play the wrong guy for various heroines, as the plot dictates. John Aniston, playing Victor Kiriakis in the 80’s, did this a few times—Kim when she slept with him to save Shane’s life, and Diana when she was pretending to be interested in him in order to … do something important, I forget what. Stefano had his obsession with Marlena, of course, and he was married to Daphne, Vivian, and now Kate. And of course he’s constantly having children popping up all over the place, so the guy must get around. But, still, Stefano seems to be largely about Family and Power (when we can discern his motivations, that is).
I have concluded, after watching the Cruise of Deception, that Ernesto Toscano is not a particularly good villain. There is nothing much wrong with the conception of the character, other than a tendency toward overelaborate plots (a common failing in soap villains), but the actor is so hammy he can’t bring it off. There is a certain gravitas that is required: Stefano has it, Ernesto Toscano doesn’t. I’m not fond of over the top villainous plots in any case, but Joe Mascolo does manage to suggest that somewhere, somehow, if you knew the secret behind all these plans, you would see how brilliant they truly are.
I could post a scene of Ernesto hamming it up so you could all see how terrible the actor can be, but instead I’ll post a scene where he actually does pretty well. This is the scene where Roman (in his Rambo outfit!) tells Isabella that Victor is her father, and that Ernesto killed her mother when he found out. Then Ernesto comes in and Explains It All:
This is a tough sell for an actor. I hated you, because you killed my real daughter! I loved you, that’s why I had to take revenge on Victor! I hated you, because you were Victor’s child! Instead of ranting and raving, the actor plays it all very calmly, as if in his lunatic mind, it all makes sense—which is really the only way to make it work. And Staci Greason has a difficult job as well, having to go from loving, trusting and believing in her father at the beginning of the scene, to completely the opposite by the end. This is a lot to pack into one scene, and I think it comes off well, for the most part. I’m really loving the little peeks I’m getting of Roman and Isabella’s love story. It makes me wish for a online clip site like D2D for them. Maybe someday, right? 🙂