Paul Telfer: Playing DOOL's Xander is 'Cathartic,' Offscreen 'Goody Two Shoes'

Paul Telfer discusses balancing onscreen drama with real life

by Zain ul Abedin
Paul Telfer: Playing DOOL's Xander is 'Cathartic,' Offscreen 'Goody Two Shoes'
© JC Olivera/Getty Images

Paul Telfer celebrated for his role as the charismatic villain Alexandros "Xander" Kiriakis on NBC's "Days of Our Lives," recently shared with PEOPLE how portraying such a sinister character has been an unexpectedly cathartic experience.

Offscreen, Telfer strives to embody the epitome of good behavior, making his onscreen persona's nefarious deeds all the more liberating. "It's incredibly cathartic to let rip and be horrible in the safe confines of a fictional story," Telfer explained, reflecting on the joy he finds in his villainous role, a stark contrast to his real-life demeanor.

Since his debut on the soap in 2015, Telfer's character, Xander, has undergone significant evolution. Initially introduced as a charming yet troubled figure with a dark past, Xander has morphed from a straightforward villain into what Telfer describes as an "anti-villain" – a character who does good things for bad reasons and vice versa.

This nuanced portrayal has allowed Xander to transition into a true anti-hero, a development Telfer finds particularly gratifying. "It’s fantastic for the audience to notice and accept Xander’s changes," he stated, emphasizing the dynamic nature of his role over nearly a decade.

Hunk Status Highlighted

Telfer’s portrayal of Xander has not only captivated viewers but also solidified his status as a soap opera hunk, a label celebrated in Playgirl’s April digital issue, where Telfer and several co-stars appeared in a much-discussed underwear shoot.

While the cover generated significant buzz, Telfer humorously noted that his wife, Carmen Cusack, whom he has been married to for nearly twelve years, had a more grounded reaction. Describing herself as familiar with the real Telfer, she found amusement in the contrast between the "soap hunk" image and her husband's more casual, real-world persona.

Cusack's light-hearted approach to Telfer's s-x symbol status in the media reflects the couple's deep understanding of and respect for one another, qualities that have fortified their relationship against the unique pressures of the entertainment industry.

Telfer credits their lasting bond to prioritizing open communication and emotional support, which has grown stronger with time. "We've both gotten much better at supporting each other emotionally," he remarked, underscoring the importance of empathy and understanding in their marriage.

As "Days of Our Lives" continues its 59th season on Peacock, Telfer's character remains a central figure, his complex evolution a testament to the actor’s skill and the show’s enduring appeal. This blend of personal insights and professional achievements not only enriches Telfer's narrative but also continues to engage and expand his fanbase.