Eric Brady is a fictional character from the NBC Daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives, portrayed by Greg Vaughan from 2012 until his exit in 2016. Vaughan reprised the role in January 2017, following a discussion between him and executives at Days of Our Lives.
Created by head writers, Margaret DePriest, Sheri Anderson and Thom Racina, Eric is the only son of supercouple, Roman Brady and Marlena Evans. Introduced onscreen by Betty Corday and Al Rabin in 1984 along with his twin sister, Sami Brady, the twins are rapidly aged, and Jensen Ackles stepped into the role of the teenage Eric in 1997. Eric's saintly behavior immediately sets him up as the better half to his very troubled sister Sami. Eric falls in love with Nicole Walker; however the relationship ends in heartbreak which leads to Eric's departure.
In 2012, Vaughan stepped into the role and the character is re-introduced as a priest. He also reconnects with a now-reformed Nicole and even works with his mother's longtime rival Kristen DiMera to help establish a new school in Salem. The dynamic leads to a constant struggle between Eric and Nicole, as both still seem to have strong feelings for each other.
Since the character's onscreen birth in 1984, the role was portrayed by several child actors. Rory Beauregard originated the role in 1984. Others actors include Jesse Davis (1985 to 1986), Edward Palma (1986), Bradley Hallock (1986 to 1992). In 1997, Scotty Hauser portrayed Eric in a voiceover.
Jensen Ackles auditioned for the role of Eric several times before was actually hired. The extensive process led to him rethinking his budding career as an actor. Ackles stepped into the role of Eric on a contractual basis on July 28, 1997. In the summer of 2000, during an interview Soap Opera Digest, Ackles confirmed that he would soon exit from the series after obtaining a development deal with ABC. Ackles made his last appearance on July 31, 2000. However, Ackles admitted that he could return. In December 2000, it was reported that NBC had approached Ackles to reprise the role in early 2001, but he respectfully declined. Reports also surfaced that the producers considered actor Shane McDermott, who was previously known for his portrayal of Scott Chandler on ABC's All My Children to take over the role, but executive producer Ken Corday immediately shot down the rumors, revealing that there were no plans to recast the role.
In February 2011, Greg Vaughan, who was previously known for his roles as General Hospital's Lucky Spencer and The Young and the Restless's Diego Guittierez had turned down a testing deal with Days. It was then announced that Vaughan would star alongside Alison Sweeney, who portrayed Eric's twin sister, Sami Brady in the Hallmark movie, Second Chances, which fueled rumors that the series was interested in Vaughan for the role of Eric. In late June 2012, TV Guide's Nelson Branco confirmed in his publication, Soap Opera Uncensored that several sources has revealed Vaughan had signed on as Eric Brady, despite no confirmation from NBC. In early July, Soaps In Depth confirmed that Vaughan was set to join the cast, but his role had yet to be confirmed, with some speculating that Vaughan could be playing an entirely different other than Eric. The July 16 issue of Soap Opera Digest reported that several sources had Vaughan in the role of Eric, but NBC had yet to confirm Vaughan's role. The magazine hinted that Eric would return as a "very changed man." On August 8, 2012, Soap Opera Digest confirmed that Vaughan had officially began taping in his role as Eric Brady and was slated to first air in November 2012. Vaughan's first air date was later confirmed as November 13, 2012. Vaugahn revealed that when he initially auditioned for the role of Eric, he was rejected. However, he was happy that he earned the job instead of having it handed to him.
In August 2015, Vaughan extended his contract with the show for an unspecified amount of time. However, in November 2015, it was announced that Vaughan will be departing from the show. On September 26, 2016, Entertainment Weekly broke news that Vaughan would reprise his portrayal of Eric Brady; be began appearing on January 17, 2017.
On April 30, and May 1, 1998, LeAnn Rimes made a two episode guest appearance in the series as a teenage runaway, Madison, and Eric keeps her from getting arrested when she steals some food. Eric is drawn to Madison because she reminds him of Sami. Eric takes her to his grandparents home and lets her spend the night before his aunt Kimberly Brady (Patsy Pease) convinces her that living a life on the street isn't what she wants. Eric goes to take Madison to the bus stop so she can return home and she apparently develops some romantic feelings for him. She promises to return to Salem some day.
Eric always appears to be the more level headed of the twins and usually tries to talk sense into his sister, Sami. At the time of Eric's departure in 2000, he is very confused about his life. In mid August, Kristian Alfonso posted a picture on Twitter of herself, Vaughan and a few co-stars, with Vaughan wearing a clerical collar which immediately led to speculation that the character of Eric had become a priest. Greg Vaughan revealed in an interview with Soaps In Depth that "Eric had been at a place in his life where his relationships had all gone awry." Eric needs a more clear cut path for his life and goes off to a third world country to work as a photojournalist. The unstable environment triggers something in Eric and he enters the priesthood. In December 2012, Vaughan revealed to TV Source Magazine that the series would soon delve into Eric's past, and what led to him becoming priest. Vaughan like many others was skeptical about the character of Eric being re-introduced as a priest. However, Vaughan looked at the plot twist as a challenge. "It's been a growing process for the character," said Vaughan. Upon Vaughan's introduction, Eric and Sami are still very close as she is the first person that he informs about his decision to become a priest. Despite him being away, Sami is "confidant and connection" to their family and the rest of Salem. When asked about Eric possibly falling for Nicole again, Vaughan said that Eric was a lot older and wiser, and could see Nicole's schemes coming. However, Vaughan said that the duo would be very plotonic friends and praised the writers for the pacing and allowing the relationship to grow organically. Vaughan said that viewers would begin to notice an emotional "tug of war" between Nicole and Eric as they try to work out their feelings.
Eric, played by Jensen Ackles, and twin sister, Samantha "Sami" Brady are born in 1984 to Roman Brady and his wife, Dr. Marlena Evans. Eric is named after his great uncle, Eric Brady Sr. Following their mother's supposed death in the spring of 1987, the twins are sent to live with Marlena's parents, Frank and Martha in Colorado. However, the twins continue appearing onscreen through frequent visits to Salem. Eric last appears as a child in the summer of 1992 and the twins are later SORASed into teens. While Sami begins making trouble in Salem, Eric stays in Colorado with his grandparents. Eric is one of several other siblings; his paternal half siblings include, Carrie, Rex and Cassie Brady; he has another half sister from his mother's affair with John Black named Belle.
Eric returns home to Salem in the summer of 1997 dead set against his mother's relationship with John. Meanwhile, he suspects Sami of faking amnesia to get Austin Reed to fall in love her. With the help of Carrie and her friend, Mike Horton, Eric helps uncover Sami's schemes just before her wedding to Austin. The group also reveals that Sami's son Will was actually fathered by Lucas Roberts. Sami is furious with Eric for his betrayal but she soon forgives him when she realizes he did not intend to hurt her. Eric soon realizes he is being stalked by an old schoolmate, Jed Fox. Eric had previously been accused of date rape when Jed was the actual culprit. Jed threatens to kill Sami unless Eric takes responsibility for the rape; however, Eric convinces Jed to admit to his crimes and accept his punishment. Eric later develops an infatuation with waitress, Nicole Walker. Eric begins working as a photographer for Countess Wilhelmina Cosmetics and tries to get Nicole hired as a model. Nicole and Eric eventually begin dating but the relationship is strained thanks to Nicole's checkered past. When Eric focuses his attention on Sami's upcoming murder trial, Nicole falls for Lucas. Eric soon falls for an older woman, Greta Von Amberg and he breaks up with Nicole when she suddenly marries Lucas in 1999. Sami is convicted of murder and sentenced to death leaving her family devastated. Fortunately, Lucas admits to the crime to save Sami. Eric's relationship with Greta is strained because he still has lingering feelings for Nicole. Greta realizes that Eric will never get over Nicole and ends the relationship. After nearly being killed in a railway, Eric decides to leave Salem. Eric leaves town in July 2000 after he admits to Nicole that he will always love her. In June 2008, Sami reveals that Eric had been in a car accident in Colorado. Though he doesn't suffer any serious injuries, Marlena rushes to his side.
Eric returns to Salem in November 2012 as a priest at St. Luke's church. Eric hires Nicole to work as the secretary at the church. Eric opens up to Nicole about the violence he experienced while working as a photographer in the Congo. Eric is wary of Nicole's lingering feelings for him, and also harbors some feelings for her. Eric reluctantly begins working with Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson) on his new school project for the community. He disapproves of Kristen's romance with his step-brother, Brady Black (Eric Martsolf), and by the time he is able to get past his reservations and agrees to counsel them before their wedding, Eric uncovers repressed memories of Kristen drugging and raping him. He then is kidnapped by Stefano DiMera with Nicole, in an attempt to cover up for his daughter. Waiting together for their deaths, Nicole confesses that she still loves Eric and Eric, although he is astonished, also confesses that he still loves her. They are amazingly saved and brought to the hospital. After being released, he talks to Nicole and tells her that to get back his priesthood, which had been stripped after the wedding fiasco, he has to go on sabbatical. Nicole is shocked and hurt, especially when she remembers his telling her that he loves her. But he continues by saying that the real reason to go on sabbatical is to see if he can be the husband to Nicole that she deserves. He then leaves Salem. With the proof now resurfaced, the Vatican agreed to hear Eric's case about being reinstated to the priesthood. Nicole even travelled to Rome to testify that she'd kept the proof from Eric for selfish reasons. Moved by her testimony and the proof, the bishop offered Eric admission back into the priesthood. But, still troubled by his inability to forgive Nicole, Eric turned it down. He returned to Salem and worked as a photographer for the PR department at University Hospital.
He spent months fighting with Nicole, who kept pleading with him to try to forgive her. But he couldn't. He finally found a distraction when his ex-girlfriend, Serena Mason, came to Salem in the winter of 2014 to do medical research from a story that she was working on. Eric and Serena met in Africa, while she was there on a story assignment. They fell in love. But, when Eric felt drawn to the priesthood, Serena did not stand in his way. However, as soon as she heard that Eric had left the priesthood, she wanted to see if there was another chance for them. Eric was happy to see her when she arrived in Salem.
Their relationship moved quickly, as Serena was in town for other motives. She was on orders to swap out a piece of artwork that Eric had acquired when the two of them were in Africa. The relationship was bothersome to Nicole and she tried and failed several times to break it up. Eric later breaks up with Serena after discovering that she slept with her boss, Xander Cook. Later, Eric and Nicole are locked in the basement of the news station by Xander. Facing death, Eric and Nicole share a tinder moment, and they realize they still have feelings for each other, but Nicole is Engaged to Daniel Jonas. Eric and Nicole escape the basement, and Nicole breaks things off with Eric, leaving him devastated. In August 2015, Eric finds Serena strangled to death in the park (She was the first victim of the Necktie Killer). Eric later begins to drink. In January 2016, while driving drunk, he causes a car accident injuring himself, Brady and Jennifer Horton and killing his best friend Daniel Jonas. In April 2016, Eric was sentenced to five years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.
Ackles was described as a "heartthrob" and became very popular during his time with the series. His popularity also leads to guest appearance by LeAnn Rimes. Ackles received three Daytime Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Ackles also won "Best Male Newcomer" at the 1998 Soap Opera Digest Awards. Ackles was also named by TV Guide on its list of the "12 Hottest New Stars" in 1998.
Jamey Giddens scolded the series for offering a veteran actor like Vaughan, with a huge fanbase, a testing deal as opposed to an actual role. Giddens also urged the producers to cast Vaughan in the either the role of Eric or Philip Kiriakis. The picture of Vaughan wearing a priest's collar stirred up some controversy among fans and critics, with some believing it would limit the kind of storylines that Eric could be involved in. Jillian Bowe responded to the picture with this statement: "Bless Me Father: Why is Greg Vaughan Wearing a Clerical Collar on Set of Days of Our Lives?!" Ackles personally called Vaughan to wish him well in his portrayal of Eric. Speaking of their exchange, Vaughan stated: "The character is near and dear to his heart and he said, 'Greg, it just gives me a little more gratification knowing that somebody I respect in the business is playing the part."