The ''Days of Our Lives'' vet talks to EW about her guest appearance on 'Law & Order: SVU' and her life as one half of the Patch and Kayla supercouple

By Abby West
September 23, 2008 at 04:00 AM EDT
Will Hart

If you’re watching the season premiere of Law & Order: SVU tonight (Sept. 23) and you think you see Days of Our Lives‘ Dr. Kayla Brady Johnson in a lab coat, you’ll be partially right. Mary Beth Evans will share the prime-time screen with Ice-T and Christopher Meloni (Luke Perry plays a guy who might be abusing his foster child), and Soap Watch caught up with the fan favorite last month when she was in New York to tape the episode.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did this guest appearance on SVU come about?
MARY BETH EVANS: At the Daytime Emmys, I sat next to Bruce Evans [head of NBC daytime] and we became fast friends. I even sent his mother one of my apple pies. He said he wanted to make [Days of Our Lives] less of an island and get people from our show onto other NBC shows. He called me up later and said I’d get to be the test case.

And you even get to keep playing a doctor of some sort.
Yeah. I was a nurse when I left Days in 1990, and when I came back, I said she should be a doctor. I realize now that they should have made me a manicurist or something because it would have been so much easier. The lingo can kill you.

But when it comes to those Patch and Kayla fans, you can do no wrong, can you?
It’s really cool that there are these fan groups that follow Patch and Kayla. And they get together and meet up all over the country. There are people who say they watched it with their grandmothers and can still talk to them about that, if nothing else. It’s an ongoing story. That’s a really great about this job.

Is it hard to try to stay on the canvas?
It’s always out of our control. It’s like the Teacups at Disney land: You’re in the front, you’re on the side. I can buckle down and do this because I know it’s not going to last.

You’ve got the apple pie biz going strong, but it seems like, after your family, your heart belongs to acting.
If I can do it forever, I’ll do it forever. If I can be the ”Where’s the beef?” grandma in commercials, I’ll do it. I love it. It’s fun. I don’t do it to be famous or to be anything more than a working bee. It’s just what I like to do, and I’ve been so lucky that I’ve been able to do it in some form for 20-whatever years. My whole life is so happy and fulfilled that this [work]] is just icing on the cake.