When viewers last saw Will Horton, one of several gay characters on the iconic daytime drama "Days of Our Lives", he was brutally murdered, strangled to death by a serial killer. Many were shocked not only by Will's untimely demise, but by the brutality of his death. At the time, Will was portrayed by Guy Wilson, a likable actor who never quite clicked with viewers — this may have contributed to the character's tragic end.
But on Sept. 15, Will rose from the dead, an occurrence not unusual on daytime soaps. Will's return is big news in the soap world — he was a beloved character to the show's millions of viewers. But even bigger news: Will's resurrection also marks the return to "Days of Our Lives" of Chandler Massey, the actor who played Will prior to Guy Wilson. It was Massey who enacted Will's coming-out story, capturing the hearts of many as he did so.
"Ultimately, it was about timing," Massey said via phone about his decision to return to the show. "I got my economics degree at UCLA, and I was never happy with Will dying. Will is a part of me — I was hoping for a chance to come back and finish his story."
When Will is first seen, he's a ghostly figure, a figment in the imagination of Lucas, his alcoholic father. "He's presented as Lucas' ideal of Will," Massey explains, assuring us that Will is indeed alive, and that there will be a plausible explanation regarding his survival.
"When the audience sees the real Will, he's none of the things that Lucas imagined," Massey said. "He has grown up to be very much like his mother Sammy, which is fun to play. Will can be bitchy, like Sammy."
Massey noted that these characteristics are what will make his storylines equally fun for the audience. "Audacity can be very entertaining," he said.
One of the storylines viewers can expect is Will's being reunited with ex-husband Sonny (Freddie Smith), who's now engaged to Paul (Christopher Sean). "Sonny was Will's first love," Massey explains. "Now that Sonny is with Paul, there will be problems."
The actor notes the importance of the show having three contract players playing gay roles.
"It's more representative of the world," he said. "When we have Donald Trump, a champion on exclusionism, in the White House, we need more shows, more books, more music to spread messages of love."
Massey added that he takes his status as a gay icon in stride.
"I really didn't have any idea that was happening," he said. "I was blown away when the character resonated with viewers as he did."
He said that he has high hopes for the show’s continued success. After reaching a recent low point in ratings, viewership is once more moving upward. Massey credits much of this to the writing of Ron Carlivati, a soap veteran known for his strong prose. Carlivati was a recent hire on "Days of Our Lives".
"Ron came in and saved it," said Massey. "Hopefully it will continue. I'm doing the best I can to make the best product and tell the best stories. Everyone on set is working to make the most meaningful characters. I hope that will show up on screen."
"Days of Our Lives" airs weekdays on NBC.