Interview: Soap Stars Chandler Massey and Zach Tinker Preview ‘A Very Salem Christmas’

A VERY SALEM CHRISTMAS (DAYS OF OUR LIVES) -- "TBD" Episode TBD -- Pictured: (l-r) -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Ahead of the release of their new Christmas movie Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas, TV Source sat down to chat with Salem’s very own Zach Tinker and Chandler Massey on Zoom about reprising their roles for the standalone spin off movie and pick get their exciting takes. Serving as the narrators of the movie, Massey and Tinker didn’t hold back their excitement to be back on set and dished about their experience and bringing this soon to be holiday classic to life.

Kicking it off Massey, voiced his elation about the opportunity to do not one but two Christmas movies back-to-back. With the first being a Hallmark film, Next Stop Christmas and A Very Salem Christmas, jokingly we asked how it felt to be on the way to being the possible king of Christmas this year. With a chuckle, Massey dove right in. “I don’t know if two Christmas movies makes me king, but it’s great to be on the way. It was really cool to get to do two back-to-back. Gets you into the Christmas spirit.” And when asked if he was ever starstruck or if he sought out acting advice on set, having worked with the likes of legendary soap icon Erika Slezak, Leah Thompson, and Chris Floyd, on Next Stop Christmas, Massey was very candid. “I didn’t really ask any questions. I tried to not bother them. I tried to stay in my professional lane. They were really cool people—legendary actors.” He was able to also confirm that Next Stop Christmas was filmed in Connecticut.

Jumping over to put Zach in the hot seat, after welcoming him back to Salem, we made sure to acknowledge his flawless entry into the role of Sonny Kiriakis. The reception for his portrayal on Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem months earlier garnered a certain amount of excitement to see him once again resume the role in a Very Salem Christmas. When asked about his reaction to the high praise, Zach was more than humble and appreciative of all the love he’s received from fans and cast mates alike. “It feels great. As an actor my confidence is very low and sometimes, I need the praise to feel good about myself as an actor. After Beyond Salem and seeing the response, it felt very good to come back. I’m really glad everyone dug what I did.” Taking more about his understanding the character, he revealed his process. “I didn’t watch Freddy [Smith’s] portrayal, I didn’t want to duplicate anything. As much as what I portray him as, I think I’ve homed in on who he is more. He feels things very intensely, he’s very emotional—sometimes too emotional, and he’s a very empathetic character.”

We did ask if there was anything he’d like to tease about the film and Tinker compared himself and Massey to characters from The Muppets, stating that they were the central characters in the film that set the pace throughout the movie. “It was nice to narrate. It was an interesting reimagine film of Salem, and it was cool to be the one cannon aspect of the film.” Of course, we talked about the colorful commentary when twists were revealed, and the playful banter Will and Sonny shared as more details unfolded. Excitedly, Tinker lit up. “Oh, you guys got to see it? I didn’t know how much I could spoil, but it was fun.”

In a joint question, we inquired about how they felt upon realizing the actual roles their characters would play in the film. Without hesitation, Massey spilled. “Sounds about right. I think it was really clever that they let Will and Sonny kinda craft this story and play around in an alternate universe.”

Tinker agreed, stating that he also enjoyed that aspect before revealing that what he thinks viewers should be most excited about the fact that steaming opens more possibilities. “With streaming you can be steamier and toe the line more. You don’t have to stick to the goody two shoes line on daytime. Anyone who watched Beyond Salem and loved it, I feel will love the Christmas film. It’s very tongue-in-cheek, it doesn’t take itself too seriously.” We added that it was fun and campy, to which Tinker agreed. We also noted that there was a subtle hint of a possible return to Salem for Will and Sonny. Shrugging and doing a few playful hand gestures, Tinker grinned and neither confirmed or denied. “My lips are sealed, but I’m feeling optimistic.” We mused that the next question was if he was open to coming to Salem, and he jumped right in, “yeah, I’m definitely open. That’s a good way to put it.”

Going back to Massey, his career was discussed, from his awards to being on the show for years alongside some of daytimes’ most dynamic talents. When presented with the question of if he feels pressure at this stage to always be on point, Massey was very honest. “I’m very comfortable with sucking from time to time,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve done over 1,200 episodes of Days and they all can’t be A-game. Sometimes you have no choice but to accept that you’re phoning it in.”

The same question was presented to Tinker who had his own unique response. “I’m very hard on myself. Chandler has a healthier relationship with acting than I do, and if I have a bad day on set that’s all I’m thinking about. It’s hard for me to let it go, but I think that will change with age and maturity. Chandler has been doing this a lot longer than I have and I think as I get older and do more projects it will be easier to let it go. For now, when I mess up it haunts me,” admitting that he considers himself somewhat a perfectionist.

As the conversation shifted back to more playful banter, the guys were asked if they got to keep the wigs worn during their hilarious drag show scenes. Tinker wasted no time providing his answer. “No. Unfortunately not. They would be getting a lot of use; I would be wearing them around the house. I think they’re expensive, so they kept them.”

While Massey laughed in response to Tinker’s excitement over the wigs, he shared the storylines he felt defined his character. “I don’t pitch any stories or anything, but the story of Will coming out and falling in love with Sonny was like the golden age for my character.” Raising his eyebrows, Tinker feigned outrage, to which Massey amended. “And of course, Zach arriving could send us into a platinum age.”

Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas — Pictured: Zach Tinker as Sonny Kiriakis — (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/Peacock)

Describing the fear, he held initially upon joining Days, Massey shared that that the end of the week was usually the worst time for him. “I dreaded Fridays. Galen Gering told me that if you’re getting fired, you get fired on a Friday. I really didn’t think I was long for this show, so every Friday I would get nervous. The show has come such a long way and it is so cool to be a part of.”

Tinker gave his own insight into the significance of stepping into a role that means so much to fans and the series, as well as the importance of the LGBTQ+ representation. “I had no idea how much Sonny meant to the viewers. When I was on The Young and the Restless, I got to see the representation [from their LGBT characters] and I saw how much it mattered to the community, and to come here and play the role it feels good to provide that. It’s really important to do it justice and do it well for those people who just need someone to identify with on their screen.”

Wrapping up, we had to mention the hilarious drag show scenes, as they are some of the most memorable parts of the spin offs. We wanted to know what headspace both Tinker and Massey had to get into to make those particular character come alive. Massey’s character is a bit more reserved whereas Tinker’s is more out there but not a very graceful drag queen and Tinker couldn’t help but to agree that he wasn’t the most poised person in heels. “I’d like to say that it’s because I’m such a good actor, but I think it’s because I’m not the most graceful. We just rolled with that aspect.”

Massey, who had been waiting in the wings with his response dove right in, “That’s a good question and as far as getting into the headspace it’s kinda like the clothes make the man. The process of putting everything on and then looking in the mirror it’s like, oh, I feel it now. It’s almost an automatic response.”

With our final question we asked if we could pitch the film to the audience as to why they should tune in. Tinker took the lead, providing his answer first. “You will get to see your favorite characters in a whole new set of circumstances that are unfamiliar to the show and that’s entertaining on its on. And aside from that it’s just a sweet Christmas movie—if you like Christmas movies you would enjoy this. And who the hell doesn’t like Christmas movies?”

Thanking the guys profusely for sitting down with us we shared a few more laughs as our time together came to an end. “We really enjoyed this,” Massey concluded. And much like their onscreen characters appear to be in this installment, Tinker was in agreement.

Ryan White-Nobles
Ryan White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TV Source Magazine. He's began covering entertainment and soap operas in 2005. In 2009 he co-launched Soap Opera Source, and led the TV Source rebrand in 2012. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.

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