Deidre Hall Dishes on Her 'Dreamy' “Hacks” Role and Why She Still 'Desperately' Wants a Scene with Jean Smart (Exclusive)

Hall made a special guest appearance as a fictionalized version of herself on the seventh episode of 'Hacks' season 3, which premiered May 23

<p>Gregg Deguire/Variety via Getty, Daniele Venturelli/WireImage</p> Deidre Hall (left) and Jean Smart

Gregg Deguire/Variety via Getty, Daniele Venturelli/WireImage

Deidre Hall (left) and Jean Smart

Deidre Hall has taken the Hacks world by storm!

After being name-checked earlier in the third season of the HBO Max comedy as the surprise mother of standup star Deborah Vance’s manager Jimmy LuSaque, the daytime legend showed up in the flesh on the holiday-themed seventh episode “The Deborah Vance Christmas Spectacular,” in a rare role outside of her nearly five-decade-long stint as Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives.

“It was fun — I loved it!” Hall tells PEOPLE exclusively of the opportunity to play a warm, flirty version of herself on the award-winning series.

It was also a role she never saw coming — and learned she had the mother of the series’ co-creator to thank for it.

“It was a surprise,” she admits. “Paul Downs, who is a showrunner [and also plays her on-screen son Jimmy], watched the show as a kid because his mother was a big fan of Days and Marlena. He said, ‘I got put down in front of the TV every day at noon.' So he became a good fan, and when his mother learned that she was going to be a character on the show, she said, ‘Well, wait — let's have Deidre Hall play me!’ So it was her idea, I'm told, and I owe her a bouquet of flowers for that.”

<p>Jake Giles Netter/Max</p> Deidre Hall on 'Hacks'

Jake Giles Netter/Max

Deidre Hall on 'Hacks'

Related: Why Deidre Hall Nearly Refused to Play Marlena on 'Days of Our Lives'

Before the offer came, Hall, 76, had not yet checked out Hacks — but quickly gave herself a crash course in the previous seasons.

“I knew of it,” she says. “I had not seen it, and a close pal of mine is a close friend of Jean Smart's, and when I told her I was doing it, she said, ‘Oh my gosh — well, then, let's start watching episodes.’ So we sat down a couple of days in a row binging, and I thought, ‘Oh, these people are having entirely too much fun!’"

First, Hall had the opportunity to do a read-through with her scene-mates over Zoom, where she got “a sense of timing and rhythm and how they were seeing things, so it was an enormous help.”

But the real fun came when she was on set with a key costar: film and TV icon Christopher Lloyd, playing a descendant of the scandalous silent film star Fatty Arbuckle who Jimmy brings to Christmas dinner as part of a scheme to advance his client Deborah’s career. Hall and Lloyd concocted a playful, potentially romantic spark between their characters that wasn’t originally on the page.

“I was obviously awed by Christopher Lloyd, as everyone is, and he was just as fun and kind and generous as a person could be, and we found some little things in our story to sort of heighten our relationship, and that was fun,” Hall says. “It wasn't meant to be a romantic introduction: [Jimmy] just brings a friend home and I thought, ‘Well, what do I do with that?’ This is a woman lives in her kitchen and who is widowed and there's an interesting man in her kitchen, and so we played that note."

"We played an 'Oh, nice to meet you' kind of a moment,” she adds, dropping her voice into a flirty, intrigued tone.

“I just felt very safe, very embraced,” the soap legend says of the experience. “It produces an amazing creative environment because once everybody says, ‘You're great, we love you. Try anything.’ Then you try anything. And it's how we found this sort of little flirtatious moment... it was just a dreamy time."

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In fact, her only minor disappointment was not having the chance to work directly with Smart, 72, herself, which she still hopes for “desperately."

"I've been a fan of Jean's forever, love her on this show,” says Hall. “One of her oldest friends is one of my best friends, and so my friend Katherine wrote a book and there was sort of a book reading done that Jean hosted, so I got to spend some time with her there. She's an enormous talent. I mean, I just adore her. I'd love to work with her.”

For Hall, who’s spent the lion’s share of her time on television playing Marlena within the parameters of daytime dramas’ breakneck shooting speed and economic efficiencies, she let herself soak up the perks and relaxed pace of a lavishly budgeted major hit series.

<p>Jake Giles Netter/Max  </p> Jean Smart on 'Hacks'

Jake Giles Netter/Max

Jean Smart on 'Hacks'

“It was a bit of a flashback for me,” she admits. “I had done scripted television, nighttime television, many, many, many, many, many, many years ago, and I remember there's a lot of sitting around, there are reverse shots, there are close-ups, there intercuts, there's inserts — I mean, there's a whole thing that they have to do in a scene that Days of Our Lives does on the fly.”

“I said at one point ‘My motorhome was the size of my house,’” she chuckles. “They catered an extraordinary lunch that was two full tents of grilled steaks, and then another tent of a salad, desserts, all kinds of [dishes] — it was amazing ... As I said to Paul, ‘We would've had this whole show shot before we booked for lunch.’”

Related: 'Days of Our Lives'' Deidre Hall Uses Holy Water While Filming Scenes Where Character Is Possessed

Hall admits she’s hoping that her spin on “Deidre Hall” becomes part of Hacks’ expansive ensemble of recurring characters, and has found herself musing about tackling other non-Days of Our Lives roles.

“I would certainly do it again if a comedy arose, because I love comedy," she says.

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The season 3 finale of Hacks premieres May 30 on Max. Days of Our Lives is currently in its 59th season and streaming exclusively on Peacock.

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