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Deidre Hall has been through a lot as Dr. Marlena Evans – there was forced electroshock treatment, rape and even a demonic possession. After 35 years in the iconic Days of Our Lives role, the actress is surprised by no plot line. So it’s all the more shocking that Hall almost didn’t take the part.

The former beauty pageant contestant told PEOPLE she was so intimidated by her competition for Marlena that she bowed out.

In an interview for People’s Days of Our Lives Collector’s Edition, Hall said she auditioned with several “spectacularly famous women,” and assuming they’d already turned it down, “I thought something must be wrong with the part.”

It wasn’t until the show, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, reached out again that her agent persuaded her to say yes.

The actress easily picked highlights from her career on the long-running series, including playing a one-off character named Hattie Adams (with a shocking resemblance to Marlena), who chewed and spit gum at her costars – a rare chance for Hall to get a little crazy on screen.

“I love being raucous and rude,” she tells PEOPLE.

As for that aforementioned experiment in paranormal activity, Hall said she initially feared a possession storyline would be “schlocky” but was pleased with how the arc came together.

And it wasn’t only the ratings that spiked: “It was absolutely thrilling,” Hall said of getting to levitate during the stretch. “I can’t tell you how we did it because I was contracted not to, but I really did lift off the bed.”

Another career peak? Working with her real-life twin sister Andrea after producers asked Hall if she had any acting ambitions in her bucket list. Bringing on Andrea led to endless possibilities, including one switcheroo when it seemed like Marlena had been killed – only it was revealed that the good doctor’s evil twin sister was the real victim of the Salem Strangler, causing DOOL fans to breathe a sigh of relief.

Short as it was, says Hall: “Working with my sister was extraordinary.”