Martha Madison (NBC)

Taking over the popular role of Belle Black on Days of our Lives four years ago, Martha Madison enjoyed non-stop front burner storylines and won the fans over in the process. Her final scenes as the young heroine aired last Monday and she was kind enough to talk to me about leaving the show she so loved being a part of.

Talking to her two days after Belle and Shawn bid Salem adieu, I was curious if Martha watched her farewell. Turns out she did, but only by accident as she hadn’t watched in awhile and just happened to turn Days on the day of her last episode. While she wasn’t quite as sad watching, as she was filming the scenes, she did share, “My husband watched it with me and he just kept hugging me the whole time. He was like, ‘It’s okay!'”

If you wondered if those were real tears being shed at the Brady Pub while Belle said goodbye to her mother, Marlena, you would be right. But while those were tough scenes to get through, Martha told me, “I was really happy if it had to end that I got to do my last scenes with Deidre (Hall). It was very nice. It was very special.”

After those last moments at the pub, Belle, Shawn and Claire took to the open waters and set sail, much like Bo and Hope did so many years ago. While Martha understands they chose to send the couple off that way to honor history, she was a bit perplexed. “The only regret I have about the way the story ended was that we left on a boat. I think that is so incongruent with the history of the couple…you know the fact that we had near death on boats for the last two years, it didn’t seem to make sense,” she laughed.

So just why did two characters with a strong fan base and deep connections to core families get written off the show? According to Martha, “I got a million reason why, but most of the talk was about the fact that we had been front and center for so long that they had wanted to rest the characters, and I can understand that.”

Looking back, Martha shared that her favorite storyline on Days was the one just before her departure. “I really loved working with Jay (Johnson, Phillip) and I thought kind of switching up the dynamics for awhile was great because people didn’t really know what was going to happen and suspense is a good thing on daytime. And I just love working with Jay and Brandon (Beemer, Shawn) and especially Nadia (Bjorlin, Chloe). I love her, she’s so fun. I just felt like we had a really good thing going,” she sighed.

But Madison has no hard feelings about her axing, as she realizes that with the new writers coming on to Days, new ideas come with them and, “I really think that they’re trying very hard to make the show really, really great and if that means us leaving for awhile, then so be it. Good luck. I hope it works!”

While she misses everyone she worked with and of course having a steady job, Martha is leaving on a high note as she was pre-nominated for an Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy. The actress decided to submit the scenes where her character says goodbye to her father, John at his deathbed and where she confesses her affair with Philip to Marlena.

While those are definitely worthy submissions, Days actors don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to garnering those much sought after nominations. I questioned Martha as to what she thought the reasons were for the show’s lack of recognition. Aside from it being the only soap on NBC and therefore not seen by many other people in the industry, Martha mused, “I think there is a factor of quality, period. I know that for the last couple of years we probably haven’t had as strong a production as we’ve had in the last six months.” She’s hoping the recent turn around in the show will make an impact on the Emmy voters this year.

As she waits to hear whether or not she receives that elusive Emmy nom for her work on Days, Martha is busy auditioning for primetime shows and mentioned that she has met with most of the other soaps. Having gone to New York twice in three weeks for meetings, she’s hoping she lands on an East Coast sudser, as that’s where she truly feels at home.