Paul Telfer Says His Villainous “DOOL” Character, Xander, Is 'Incredibly Cathartic': I'm a 'Goody Two Shoes' (Exclusive)

The 'Days of Our Lives' actor also tells PEOPLE about how his wife of nearly 12 years, Carmen Cusack, has reacted to his 'soap hunk' persona on the show

<p>Todd Williamson/Peacock via Getty</p> Paul Telfer

Todd Williamson/Peacock via Getty

Paul Telfer

While Paul Telfer can't always justify the actions of a villain, he sure does feel good playing one on Days of Our Lives.

The actor, 44, who takes on the role of Alexandros "Xander" Kiriakis in the long-running soap opera, exclusively tells PEOPLE of how "incredibly cathartic" it feels to live out his most diabolical fantasies vicariously through his character, considering how hard he works to be well behaved in his day-to-day.

"Just out of a sense of sheer fun, it is tremendously enjoyable to play a straight-up villain, and especially if you're not particularly villainous in your real life," he explains with a laugh. "I try to be a goody two shoes in my real life. And so it's incredibly cathartic to let rip and be horrible in the safe confines of a fictional story."

Despite starting as a charming but troubled newcomer with a checkered past in 2015, Telfer reflects on how Xander has evolved over a near decade.

<p>Peacock</p> Paul Telfer on 'Days of Our Lives'


Paul Telfer on 'Days of Our Lives'

Related: Days of Our Lives' Paul Telfer Prepped for Playgirl Cover Shoot with Bed Rest and Fried Chicken (Exclusive)

"He was never an anti-hero," he explains. "He was always just a horrible person that was allowed to show a little bit of a vulnerability and a little bit of insecurity that I think made him a slightly more endearing than the typical outright villain. And then over the years, it's almost, instead of turning him into an anti-hero, he became like an anti-villain."

Telfer adds, "Instead of being a dark hero, he was more of a light villain who would attempt to do good things for bad reasons and bad things for good reasons."

The soap star says that Xander's villainous nature is "shifting once again to actually become a true anti-hero," which is something he's "always hoped" the character would land.

"It's one of these things of getting the opportunity to play a character for this amount of time and the constantly shifting canvas that we get to play these characters upon is really satisfying because we all grow and change in real life," he continues, sharing how "fantastic" it's been for the audience to "notice" and "accept" Xander's changes.

Related: 17 Stars Who Were on Days of Our Lives

<p>Sony Pictures Television</p> Paul Telfer on 'Days of Our Lives'

Sony Pictures Television

Paul Telfer on 'Days of Our Lives'

With the opportunity to play Xander came Telfer's soap opera hunk archetype. The actor is one of the many sexy characters who regularly grace fans' screens with shirtless scenes. In fact, for Playgirl's April digital issue, Telfer joined his DOOL costars, Robert Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Bryan Datillo and Christopher Sean in stripping down to their underwear for its cover shoot.

Though many fans swooned over the viral cover, Telfer says that his wife of nearly 12 years, Carmen Cusack, wasn't as impressed.

"She's going to roll her eyes a little bit, because she knows who I really am and how I really behave in my life and what a kind of goofy slob I am," he quips of how Cusack reacted to the spread.

"There's this very fantasy image of the soap hunk and my version of it the show portrays, but she knows the truth. So I think she gets a little bit of a kick out of it," Telfer adds.

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty</p> (L) Paul Telfer and Carmen Cusack

Kevin Mazur/Getty

(L) Paul Telfer and Carmen Cusack

Related: ‘Days of Our Lives’ Stars Strip Down to Their Underwear for Playgirl Cover: See the Cheeky Photos

While "obviously, it's not the worst thing in the world to have a officially hunky husband," the actor says that Cusack doesn't take things too seriously and tends to "roll the eyes" and reminds him to "make sure the check cashes."

Telfer reveals that their relationship has been able to withstand the test of time not only because of their mutual understanding of the entertainment industry and its demands but also because of their commitment to keeping communication open.

According to the soap star, their relationship rules are "nothing particularly original" but the couple strive to "put each other's feelings first," take care of each other's emotions and get ahead of "certain established trigger points."

"I think we've both gotten much better at that as we've grown closer and closer and closer over the years and more and more, not dependent on each other emotionally, but supportive of each other emotionally," he adds.

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Days of our Lives is currently in its 59th season, streaming exclusively on Peacock.

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