Arianne Zucker divulges decision to leave Days & posts video of last day image

Arianne Zucker shocks fans with decision to leave Days of our Lives

Updated October 16: Arianne Zucker will last be seen officially on Friday October 20, when Nicole decides to leave Salem after Brady Black (Eric Martsolf) forces her hand. The actress will return several weeks later for the Christmas episode in December.

Updated June 22: Arianne Zucker posted a bittersweet video on YouTube of her and her daughter riding into work at NBC June 21. She shared behind-the-scenes footage of her last week on set at "Days of our Lives" which showcases some of her co-workers such as Eric Martsolf (Brady), Suzanne Rogers (Maggie), and the rest you'll find below.

Originally written March 3: Emmy nominated Arianne Zucker has been playing Nicole Walker Layton Roberts Kiriakis DiMera since 1998. She took a few years off only to return in April of 2008. The actress recently revealed her decision not to renew her contract in April to Soap Digest. This could mean that Zucker has up to five months after for her storyline to wrap up, since the show tapes that far in advance.

Ari Zucker posted a blog on her site about her decision to leave Days of our Lives, stating, "After 18 years of an incredible run as Nicole Walker on 'Days of our Lives', I will not be returning this contract year. I have had such beautiful support from all of you who have loved to hate Nicole and then love her again. Nicole has been through a life not fully rewarded by some of your standards, but I have also been able to connect with you on personal levels. Although nothing is ever permanent and I never like to say never, it is bye for now. I will see you all in other places as other characters and I am excited for my journey. I leave you for now with the Dreams (Blue Angels) video to inspire YOUR dreams. Thank you Van Halen and Sammy for helping me fulfill my dreams."

Soaps.com has learned that Zucker told Soap Digest she was contemplating leaving 2 years ago. "Not having a full-blown storyline," she admits, did factor into her decision. "I think listening to the fans, too, and their disappointment over how this character has been written and pushed aside and slapped around, you try not to take things personally, but it's hard not to. Behind closed doors, you go, 'Come on, guys, give me a story'." The actress states her decision was made before Thanksgiving 2016 and had nothing to do with Ron Carlivati's arrival as the new Days head writer. "I just want to go off and try new things." She wasn't happy about boyfriend Shawn Christian's firing at Days of our Lives previously. When asked if it affected her decision to leave, she said, "It did a little bit." She told Christian that she would be following him in 2 years, which is what she has done. The actress' contract is up April 27 and she has already booked a new movie, and is planning on getting what she calls, a "normal" job.

Zucker was interviewed by TV Insider about her baby drama storyline coming where she knocks Chloe out with Chloroform and goes on the run with Holly after receiving a restraining order stating she can't go within 100 feet of Chloe or her baby.

With Eric (Greg Vaughan) back in Salem, Zucker previews what to expect: "Nicole wants him dead. I think she really would kill Eric if she got the chance. The grief she feels over losing Daniel—who brought her the only true happiness she’d had in years—is unimaginable. She just can’t let it go. Days can get kinda kooky, but this pain Nicole feels is raw and real. It brings a lot of truth to the show." When asked if she thought Nicole was certifiable, she admitted, "I think she used to be crazy. She’s grown. [Laughs] Well, sort of. I mean, she certainly makes one bad choice after another and it just never stops. So, yeah, maybe she‘s crazy, but you still want to root for her. Nicole has no family members, none that have stuck around anyway. She’s not really connected to anybody in town, and that says a lot about how much loss and disappointment the character has been through. She wants love wherever she can get it, and she is so desperate to have it that she literally gets in her own way. That’s where all the tragedy happens. She consistently puts herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. And there’s a lot of karma hitting her in the face for all her past misdeeds."

The decision shocked fans due to the timing, considering Nicole's storyline has been on the front burner. It's anyone's guess how Nicole will be written out. Some scenarios include Nicole killing Deimos and going to prison, or Nicole moving outside of Salem with her daughter Holly. Either way, we'll assume there are a lot of tears, as that's all we seem to see Nicole doing these days. In a past interview, Soaps.com asked Ari Zucker how she worked herself up to cry so much. She told us, "I had a really great teacher. When I left 'Days of Our Lives' for two years I took a scene study improv class. The teacher’s name is Stephen Book and he’s a really, really tough teacher, and that’s what I love...'" The class has worked. Zucker has been touted as one of the best actresses on the show.

Let Soaps.com know your thoughts on this imminent exit and how you'd like to see it play out, in the comments below. So far, here are the reactions to the news from our Twitter feed.

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Photo credit: Mark Davis/Getty

- Christine Fix