Shelley Hennig, Darin Brooks, Rachel Melvin, Marcus Patrick, Trevor Donovan jeremy stephanie jett max jpi days
Credit: Paul Skipper/JPI

Losing your first big break is downright devastating.

If there’s one thing that every daytime fan is well aware of, it’s that working on a soap opera is not easy. They have to film at a near breakneck pace to keep the shows coming out five days a week, and few move nearly as fast as Days of Our Lives which films months in advance.

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Though it’s only gotten faster in recent years, that still doesn’t mean it was a piece of cake back in 2007 when Trevor Donovan joined the show. Back in those days, Donovan was a fresh-faced actor who’d just scored his first real series. And he wasn’t playing some bit character either. Jeremy Horton was Mike Horton’s son, and Jennifer’s nephew. He was a legacy character who just returned to town for the first time as a grownup, fully fleshed character of his own.

Jeremy was troubled, though, with a bumpy past that included fraud and shoplifting, and during his stay in Salem, he flew smuggled goods for the DiMeras. Eventually he was busted, and he said goodbye to Salem and went on the run. That took just five month. And now it sounds like that wasn’t necessarily the plan for him.

On Dancing With the Stars’ “Most Memorable Year” episode, Donovan opened up about his first big job. 2009, it turns out was his most memorable year. And a big reason for that was because of his brief soap stint.

Suzanne Rogers, Francis Reid, Trevor Donovan, Shelley Hennig jeremy stephanie maggie alice jpi days

Jeremy and Stephanie were a bit of an item. If he’d stuck around, maybe she could have ended up a Horton too.

Credit: Paul Skipper/JPI

“I was a struggling actor,” he shared with dancing partner Emma Slater. “I had booked Days of Our Lives, a three year contract. I was so excited. I finally got a job as a working actor, but I would get in front of the camera and just panic. There’s similarities here with this dancing stuff. So they fired me.”

It was, he admitted, devastating. He struggled for years after that trying to make it as an actor. Getting fired from a daytime soap for panicking on camera is tough to recover from, not just professionally, but also, we’re sure, mentally and emotionally.

Finally, he recalled, “I decided to put it on ice for a little bit. I decided to go back home to Maryland.”

He was going to build a house with his dad and take a break from the life that was beating him down so much.

“I almost sublet my apartment,” he said, giving up the Hollywood life, “and then I got a call from my manager saying the casting director wants to see me for 90210. ‘You’re working on Monday.’”

From there, the rest is history. He stayed on 90210 for its whole run, bumping up from recurring to a series regular for its third season. He’s gone on to do countless television shows and movies and has become a Hallmark (and particularly, Christmas) staple.

It was a rough time in his life, but after making it through, it’s given Donovan the fire he needs to push ahead and succeed in virtually everything.

Who knows? Now that we’ve caught up with Mike a bit and Stephanie’s back in town, maybe someday soon we’ll see Jeremy again? And maybe this time, he’ll have gotten his life sorted out.

Take a look back at the life of Alice Horton in our photo gallery of the woman who led one of Salem’s greatest families.