Daytime Emmy winner Chandler Massey is returning to NBC’s Days of our Lives as Will Horton. News of the popular actor’s return was reported exclusively by EW. Massey reported to work last month and will first air in September.
“I am so excited to be bringing Will back to Salem,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. “I can’t wait for the fans to see what we have planned. You won’t want to miss it!”
The fan favorite commented on his return on Instagram with a caption reading “I’m back.”
Chandler Massey joined the cast of Days of our Lives at the end of 2009, replacing Dylan Patton as part of the show’s decision to take the character in a new direction. We soon learned that new direction was a coming out storyline that drew critical acclaim and would ultimately earn the star three Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Younger Actor, and numerous GLAAD awards for the series. The pairing of Will and Sonny (played by Freddie Smith) drew praise and the adoration of fans around the world as the ship known as “WilSon” was forged.
In 2013, speculation about a pending exit began soon after he won his second of three Daytime Emmys. During his post-victory speech in the press room, Massey said “You know, it’s been such a pleasure and privilege working on DAYS. It’s changed my life for the better. I came out to Los Angeles and enrolled at UCLA, and I think after this is up, I want to go back to school. I want to graduate. I want to have a degree, and then maybe see…I just want to keep moving forward.”
When his exit was announced, it was expected the young star would wrap his run-in December 2013. However, controversy ensued when he abruptly announced his departure four months earlier than anticipated. Conflicting press statements stirred controversy over his early exit, angering fans in the process. Though Massey announced he asked to be let go early, it turns out he was called into a meeting by producer Greg Meng and told the scenes he filmed on August 23, 2013 would be his last, as the series had hired a new actor to fill his role.
A few days after the incident, Chandler Massey spoke with TV Guide and said he was glad for the early exit. “I appreciate the producers for letting me out of my deal early because I can now pursue other opportunities I couldn’t under contract. And, really, I want what’s best for the show and the character. I’m honored to have played Will’s coming-out story, and really proud of the Will and Sonny romance. It’s important that they pass the torch to another actor and continue the story.”
After the two-week production hiatus in the summer of 2013, Days of our Lives recast the role of Will with Guy Wilson, who made his first appearance at the beginning of 2014. Wilson’s Will took part in the much-hyped wedding between Will and Sonny (Freddie Smith), though the whole thing felt hollow with a new actor in the part and no flashbacks to mine. Wilson struggled in the role and was ultimately fired in 2015. The character was brutally murdered in the “Plan to Save Days, 2015 Edition’s” Necktie Killer storyline ahead of the series’ 50th anniversary celebration.
Star Alison Sweeney (Sami), who plays Will’s mother, was critical of the decision to kill off the character, telling Soap Opera Digest at the time, “I felt betrayed and hurt that they were doing it. I had a crazy reaction that I didn’t want to do it and I didn’t want to go be a part of it because I was upset. And then I feel like I went through the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then coming to terms with it. I had to deal with it. Personally, I think it’s a big mistake. I am sorry they did it but, of course, I had to go there and mourn. I haven’t seen every scene that Will has done that put them in this situation, but I think there are other ways they could have handled it. It breaks my heart that there is no Will anymore. There have been a lot of storylines that I haven’t agreed with, but I always understood the motive behind them and the value of getting the audience riled up. I’m a company girl and I’ve always been supportive of that. But this particular story point is something that I just don’t agree with and didn’t from the moment they told me. And I don’t understand why they did it.”
Massey and Sweeney’s storyline is being kept under wraps, but you can be sure it’ll be worth the wait. Episodes from new head writer Ron Carlivati and creatives consultants Sheri Anderson & Ryan Quan begin airing late-summer.
How do you feel about Chandler Massey’s return to Days of our Lives? What’s your speculation on how they’ll address Will’s resurrection?