December 02, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

It still surprises Charles Shaughnessy when people say they enjoy his work as dashing Shane Donovan on Days of Our Lives. It should. He hasn’t been on in nearly three years. ”Scary, isn’t it?” says the actor, who now plays Maxwell Sheffield on the CBS prime-time hit The Nanny. The London-born Shaughnessy, 38, had a successful eight-year run on Days, but admits that fear of failure almost kept him there. ”The decision to leave was hard,”he explains. ”It took me two years.” He also found it tough to give up a job he enjoyed so much. ”Days was hysterical fun. I often laughed so hard I cried. The Nanny is much harder work. We don’t clown around as much. I also think, with the serious things we played (on Days), we were laughing as a release.”

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