The following article was written by Scott Huver for People Magazine. To view the original article, click here.

Over her near five-decade tenure, Hall’s character Dr. Marlena Evans has fallen out of a window, survived a plane crash, two demonic possessions and more.

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As Deidre Hall nears nearly 50 years of playing Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives, the daytime legend still has a short list of things she’d still like to play.

Hall’s character has endured through outrageous circumstances as falling out of a window, hysterical amnesia, kidnapping, being targeted by serial killers, being replaced by an unhinged lookalike, surviving a plane crash and not one but two demonic possessions. And now, Hall knows what she’d like Marlena to face next.

“Marlena has never had a serious illness – I mean, unless you’re counting possession,” Hall tells PEOPLE exclusively, with a chuckle.

Hall says she’s eager to get a storyline that would see her psychiatrist character contend with a life-threatening malady with some genuine dramatic stakes, something that might resonate deeply fans of the show.

She also has a real-world skill that she’s like Marlena to share: “I know sign language,” she reveals. “If we ever have a moment or if she has a deaf client or we need an interpretation, that might be kind of fun. That doesn’t happen every time in the daytime.”

Hall admits she has another personal passion that doesn’t translate so simply to her role, but one she still indulges in behind the scenes on the daytime drama.

“I’m a frustrated hairdresser at heart, so you can find me in the makeup room helping [her DOOL co-star] Eric Martsolf blow out his hair or trim those sides,” she reveals. “I can’t stop myself. You can’t stop what’s inside.”

Now in her 48th year of playing the beloved heroine, following her debut on the already long-running soap opera on June 21, 1976 (with a few intermittent breaks along the way), Hall says she still reveals in the opportunity to step into Marlena’s shoes to embark on new storylines, no matter how over-the-top they may be.

“It’s the play time,” Hall says. “I get to sit in the make-up chair and catch up with Deidre — oddly, that is my makeup girl’s name — and what’s happening with her son at school, and then getting the hair chair and see what Armando has done with some shows he’s been to.”

“It’s catching up with the people that I love so much and getting to spend every day with them because nobody does this in a vacuum,” she continues. “We’re all in a product of our hair and our makeup and our director and our scriptwriter and our editor and our lighting people. Oh my gosh — Christmas cards for every one of those lighting people who can make or break, even in a moment!”

Todd Williamson/NBCUniversal via Getty Deidre Hall

The veteran star also appreciates her mentoring role in “teaching each other and having young people that we have to sort of pull through the process,” she explains. “We have a lot of young people that join the show that are not experienced or haven’t had a whole lot of training, and everybody carries everybody on Days of Our Lives. It’s a lovely collaboration.”

Surprisingly, a career as an actress wasn’t initially on Hall’s wish list as a young woman; she admits that it just came her way.

“I didn’t start there,” she explains. “In college I was studying psychology, ironically, and I had to make a living, and so I had done some modeling when I was in Florida, so called an agent and I said, ‘Can I get some modeling jobs? I’ve got to make some money here.’”

After the agent agreed, Hall says, “She called one day and said, ‘Well, why don’t you try some commercials?’ I said, ‘Whatever – make some money. That’s what I’m in for.’ I did some commercials and that went well, and she said, ‘Why don’t you try acting?’ I said, ‘Oh, that’s for professionals. No, no, no – that’s not me.’”

Hall quickly began to score some auditions but was relegated largely to background roles in scenes with then-big-name stars due to her inexperience.

“I said to myself, ‘You know what? This is fun for you, but if you want to do it, you can’t spoil it for other people.’ So I put myself in acting class, and I did that for 12 years, and even had the incredible joy of being in Stella Adler’s master class,” she recalls. “And if you think there’s anything on stage that can scare you, try getting up on stage in front of Stella Adler.”

Jake Giles Netter/Max

But “hours and hours” of lessons sharpening her scene work finally helped her land the spot, and the fabled acting teacher’s class equipped her with all the skills to embark on a more serious-minded journey.

Now boasting an extensive filmography that expands well beyond DOOL – including classic TV shows like The Streets of San Francisco, S.W.A.T., Columbo and Murder, She Wrote, a leading role on the 70s Saturday morning superhero series Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, her own primetime series Our House, dozens of TV movies and even a guest spot this week as a version of herself on the award-winning comedy series Hacks – Hall is thrilled to still be a steadily working actor in an ever-unpredictable business.

“I’m so fond of saying that actors are so crazy that when I swiped my key card, I’m always a little relieved that the gate opens over at NBC,” she says. “So being invited back is always a great compliment and a bit of a relief, because it’s such a joy to do what we do… I think 2% of the Screen Actors Guild makes a living being on camera. So to have that be a part of my every day and every week for years and years and years is just such a joy and such a pleasure, and I’m beyond grateful for it.”