DAYS Chandler Massey Interview: Will Becomes A Dad, His Daytime Emmy Nomination & What’s Next for WilSon?
This past week on Days of our Lives, Will Horton’s story continued to provide the drama and the emotional heart of the NBC series, as Will (Chandler Massey) and Sonny (Freddie Smith) saved Gabi (Camila Banus) and Nick (Blake Berris) from Jensen (Derek Magyar)! In the process, Will is shot! Nick’s past is revealed, Gabi gives birth to her and Will’s child with an assist from Sonny, and oh my! The stage is set for more drama in episodes coming right after the Memorial Day weekend!
And while there were plenty of occurrences in Salem and Smith Island last week, off-screen Chandler Massey recently landed another Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Younger Lead Actor category for this year’s 40th annual Daytime Emmy Awards to be handed out on Sunday Night, June 16th, and broadcast live on HLN. Will Chandler make it two in a row with another one of his astounding performances?
On-Air On-Soaps caught up with Chandler to get a preview of: what is to come this week and in the future for Will and Sonny, what he thought of the just aired exciting episodes, and what he thinks it will be like for Will to be a young father! Plus, Chandler shares his thoughts on working with Blake Berris as his on-screen adversary, and we talk … Daytime Emmy time!
Last week, DAYS was on fire! What did you think about the big fight scene between Will and Jensen (Derek Magyar) that saved the day for Nick?
CHANDLER: We filmed the scenes in episodes that aired last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, all in one day. We were out there from ten in the morning till six at night, doing these scenes with really no break. So, we blocked the fight, we choreographed it, and we rehearsed it over and over again. And then the time came for the take, and it was my job to throw the first punch. And of course, my adrenaline was pumping so much that I hit him. I hit Derek right in the face! Not hard, but I hit him! And then the fight got so real for me. I went, “Oh no! He is going to kick my ass now!” I obviously apologized to Derek profusely after it, and he was O.K. But it was crazy, and really fun to do. 99% of the time in soaps, you sit down, or are standing and having a conversation with somebody, and maybe at one point you walk around in a scene. So this was great to be able to do.
Soaps are not action adventure in nature!
CHANDLER: The story in soaps is told in dialog, so this was so cool, because you can tell story another way. I did not have a single line in that whole episode! So … I loved it! (Laughs)
So when you saw the scripts that detailed Will is shot, Gabi gives birth, and all the suspense around it, what did you think?
CHANDLER: I had to laugh, because the circumstances had to be the craziest thing. Like Sonny delivers the baby in some warehouse somewhere? Of course! And a few other things I had a laugh at, like no cell service on the island! But on the whole, I was very excited. I knew it was going to be a big moment, and therefore people would tune-in and see something different. I always appreciate something different.
Do you think now that Will saved Nick, there will be a definitive turn in the contentious relationship between the two of them?
CHANDLER: It does in a way, or at least there is an understanding of Nick’s life from Will’s perspective. Still I think without getting into too many details, just because you know the rationale for why somebody is doing something, even if it’s a terrible thing that happened to this person that made them this way, such as to Nick, he has got to take some responsibility for his own actions. Just because of what he went through does not mean he can do whatever he wants to people.
What you are saying is very true in life! So many people are abused sexually or emotionally, and just because of that it does not, or should not, give the license to hurt others who had nothing to do with the situation, or who then become innocent victims.
CHANDLER: It’s terrible what happened to Nick. That is something no one would wish on anybody, but in Will’s mind it does not give him a free pass. I can say, Will does feel sorry for him, absolutely. Will can understand the reason Nick starting developing the positions that he had when it came to homophobia.
What did you think about the scenes after Will is shot, where basically you are laying there in the hospital set and all the cast is acting around you? (Laughs)
CHANDLER: It was great! I got to skip dry blocking, and come in the morning and lie in bed and go to sleep! (Laughs) It was a nice break. I was so exhausted from the previous day’s work that it was just nice to lay there and be unconscious for a while. I truly think it was some of my best work! (Laughs)
What did you think of your on-screen mom, Alison Sweeney’s (Sami) performance at Will’s bedside?
CHANDLER: Alison was fantastic in those scenes, of course as usual, and everybody involved in the story did a great job.
Next week, Will sees his baby girl for the first time! How was that to play?
CHANDLER: Yes!They are two twin girls and their names are Sydney and Harper in real life. I was very nervous at what to expect. I had never really held an infant before. These girls are so beautiful and cute! I got chills in the scene!
So meeting his baby daughter for the first time is going to be big moment for Will and the fans who love him?
CHANDLER: I hope the fans will love the scenes. It does kind of change everything. I have even kind of approached playing Will differently because he is a dad now. He is now not his first priority, anymore. His daughter is, and will always be. It filters everything that happens to him, and allows him to react differently than he would have before.
Now that the child is born, and due to the circumstances surrounding her birth, do you think everyone will work together now to raise the baby … Will and Sonny… Gabi and Will?
CHANDLER: That would be nice, but this is Days of our Lives and people in Salem rarely just work together. When Will’s child is brought to him, not only does Will have a life changing moment, something changes in Nick, too. He sees a visceral bond between a father and his child, and kind of brings to light for him what he was doing. There is a sense of community and harmony, at least for a little awhile. And let’s not forget, Will saved Nick’s ass, so he better be grateful. (Laughs)
Are Sonny and Will finally heading for a period of some happiness?
CHANDLER: Yes, they are. I have to give credit to the writers on this. They really did an amazing job. Will and Sonny are such a united front, and they love each other so much. The writers did a good job of showing that through their behavior and actions. You can tell how much they love each other, and that they are in this together.
We had talked quite a while ago that at one point DAYS and NBC had put the brakes on developing the love story between Will and Sonny. Finally everything moved forward. Do you feel now, after all this time and all the stops and starts, that yours and Freddie’s on-screen relationship is working better now?
CHANDLER: It really does work better now. I feel like it’s great, just how Sonny and Will had to learn. They started from being this awkward couple learning to love each other. Freddie and I have kind of grown along the same vein, and are becoming more and more comfortable with each other. I think our scenes only get better each time.
What are your hopes for Will in the future? What would you like to have the opportunity to play?
CHANDLER: I would like, and this might seem boring on a soap where all these crazy things keep happening, but I would like Will to fumble his way through and learn to be a dad. And if that is all he has got going on his plate, then trust me, that should be enough. That is what I would like to do … have scenes with my on-screen daughter!
Blake Berris’ portrayal of Nick Fallon has been outstanding! You and I have often talked about what a terrific job he has done with the part. What is it like for you when you’re are working and performing in scenes with him? Also, there was that issue of Blake getting pushback for playing a homophobe against Will!
CHANDLER: Sometimes Blake and I laugh about that. But you can tell when you are in a scene with him, he has this great combination. He does his homework. Blake will go read these scripts and he will make super interesting choices, but when he is on set and you are doing a scene with him, he has got that as his base, but he is so present and spontaneous that you know that he is listening to you. You can see it in his eyes that he is actually invested in what is going on. He has got a hell of a presence in a scene. I think he has taken material in general and made Nick the most interesting character on the show. I think Blake is the greatest gift to the younger generation of actors on DAYS that we have had in a long time.
Do you, at your young age, now feel like an “old pro” at DAYS? Is it hard to make your performances fresh with the material given to you, every single episode that you are in?
CHANDLER: An old something! (Laughs) But that is actually a good question, because you do have to find a lot of the times a way to keep things fresh. I will have déjà vu and I don’t know if that is in my head, or I am actually saying the things that I am saying for the first time. In a new episode every day, you cannot always come up with something completely original. I approach every scene as if it was the only scene I was going to do on Days of our Lives. I come in and do the best that I can in that scene, and then do it in every other scene. I think the best way to keep things interesting is to be open to the spontaneous action from your scene partner. Little accidents, that happen that were not even scripted, become the greatest gifts you can get.
Do you feel like the daytime soap opera “poster boy” for the LGBT community? When you first came on the show, and through the coming out story, you were everywhere in print and online interviews, and features.
CHANDLER: I don’t know I consider myself the “poster boy”. I think when the story first started to come out and I was doing a bunch of press, maybe I felt that way, and then Freddie was also brought on. I think we are kind of like equals with it. I do obviously support the cause, and help outside of the set in anyway that I can.
This year, you are once again nominated in the Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series category for the 40th annual Daytime Emmys. Deidre Hall (Marlena) was once again in your Emmy scenes. Was Deidre being in them an important part of picking the episode, in any way?
CHANDLER: Truthfully, I ask my mom what her favorite scenes are, and then she tells me. Last Emmys she said, “Pick this”, and it worked! The most important thing I consider when choosing a scene for Emmy contention is the other person in the scene. Deidre challenged me in those scenes, and really brought me up and elevated my performance to her level. That is one of the reasons, I love working with her. I went with a scene with her last year, where I tell Marlena I walked in on Sami having sex with EJ (James Scott) and cheating on Rafe (Galen Gering).
In case anyone is still wondering, what episode did you submit, and why did you choose it?
CHANDLER: I submitted the episode from February 2012 where Will has his first kiss with a guy, and his name was Neil (Jesse Kristofferson). Will gets caught, and he is embarrassed and he runs to Marlena to talk to her about it and he ends up asking her if she thinks he might be gay? The reason I chose the episode was I felt like it painted a complete picture of what Will is going through, and as I said, mom picked it and she liked it.
Now looking back, do you think Will’s coming out story was truly the tip of the iceberg for the character?
CHANDLER: I don’t know if I would say his coming out was the tip of the iceberg, but I do like that it opened doors for storylines that would have never opened up if Will hadn’t came out. I am really enjoying what is going on now. I feel the best material and scenes are ahead for the viewers. We shoot three to four months ahead. It kind of paved the way for me, for what it is all truly about … Will growing up and becoming a man. If Will had never gone thought that process, I don’t think he would be ready to kind of deal with what is going on and what we are filming, which is him preparing himself to be a father and fatherhood. Will has definitely benefitted from the experiences he had and the trouble that he had coming out, and it helped him grow up. Hopefully, he will be a little bit wiser! (Laughs)
What did you think about being nominated against your co-star and on-screen love interest, Freddie Smith, in the same category for this year’s Daytime Emmy?
CHANDLER: I think it’s great, and I am happy for Freddie. He deserved a nomination, absolutely.
Did you judge this year on a Daytime Emmy blue-ribbon panel? If so, what category, and what did you think of the caliber of work you saw?
CHANDLER: I judged the ‘Supporting Actor’ category, and I was very impressed! Now, I might be a little bias because I am on DAYS, but Jim Reynolds’ (Abe) reel was so heartbreaking, oh my gosh! So I was very surprised he did not get in. But basically, every one in the category put up astounding work and performances. It could have gone any way, and I was definitely not bored watching the reels for one second. It was a great experience.
I know you don’t tweet much on your Twitter account, but your fans must have been happy upon hearing the news of your Daytime Emmy nomination this year.
CHANDLER: I don’t tweet a lot, but I do read what I can what fans are tweeting to me. Everyone seems to be really happy that DAYS did so well. We also got acting nominations for Peggy McKay (Caroline) and Arianne Zuker (Nicole)! We also got 17 nominations in total, and a Best Show nomination, which is awesome!
So you have already won one Daytime Emmy, you may very well add a second one to your trophy case this year. Has winning an Emmy in anyway changed anything? Made a difference for you?
CHANDLER: It is an honor to be recognized by your peers, in that way. So that is great. I think the main difference is; once I received the first Emmy I knew that every scene I did from there on in my mind had to be Emmy caliber, because now I basically set a standard for myself. So it has made me work harder.
In closing, what can you preview that is coming up for fans of Will’s story and journey?
CHANDLER: I would say the best stuff is going to air from July through August. I am thoroughly enjoying myself in these scenes. I can tell you that Gabi, Sonny and Will, almost find themselves in a very comical situation where they all have to work together to achieve what they want. It makes for some really great, interesting, and funny scenes too, which I love, and in scarce supply on Days of our Lives and for Will’s life, seriously. (Laughs)
So DAYS fans, what do you think about Will becoming a dad? Are you looking forward to seeing Will meet his baby girl? What did you think of this past week’s episode involving, Gabi, Nick, Sonny and Will? Are you rooting for Chandler to win another Daytime Emmy in a few weeks for his performance? Let us know your thoughts!