Guy Wilson as Will Horton
|Days of Our Lives character|
|First appearance||November 16, 1995|
|Created by||James E. Reilly|
|Introduced by||Ken Corday
Former Intern at DiMera Enterprises
|Residence||316 Copper Lantern Drive, Apt. 15
Dylan Patton as Will Horton
William "Will" Robert Horton (born Reed; formerly Roberts) is a fictional character from the American NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, played by Guy Wilson. Will debuted on-screen during the episode airing on November 16, 1995. He is the son of Sami Brady and Lucas Horton, but was originally passed off as the child of his uncle Austin Reed. As the character aged on-screen, he endured a "turbulent upbringing" due to his mother's love life. Will has always wanted his parents to be together, so he could be like other children he knew. This resulted in Will becoming "moody and suspicious".
The character has been written out of the series previously, which saw Will move to Switzerland with his uncle Austin. Upon his reintroduction, he was portrayed as being more "mature". When the series recast the role with Massey, this was done to accommodate a new storyline. In early 2011, it was announced that Will would be featured in a gay storyline. These plans were put on hold due to production changes. By October, it was confirmed that Will would come out as gay, receiving support from both NBC and Sony. The character is subsequently featured in the show's first gay kiss; with Neil. Massey said that he hoped his storyline would challenge people's views on homosexuality and promote tolerance. The character is currently involved in the show's first same-sex supercouple (commonly referred to by the portmanteau "WilSon") with Sonny Kiriakis.
For their portrayal of Will, Patton and Massey have both received Daytime Emmy Award nominations. Luke Kerr of Zap2it said that Will is one of the serial's most important characters. Various LGBT news sources have criticized the slow pace of Will's coming out storyline, while others noted that Days of Our Lives was one of the last shows to portray gay characters. In 2012, Massey won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series, the first in history to win while portraying a gay character. In 2013 & 2014, Massey won his second and third Emmy awards for the Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series.
The role of Will Horton was originally played by child actors Shawn and Taylor Carpenter from 1995 until 2002. Darian Weiss took over the role until 2003, when Christopher Gerse took over the role. Gerse told Janet Di Lauro of Soap Opera Digest that he had previously auditioned for the role of Will but was unsuccessful. He then auditioned for another role in the series, which he did not receive. Producers later called Gerse back to carry out a screen test for Will, this time he was hired. At the time the character was a recurring part, which suited Gerse because he had "always wanted" to have one. Gerse left the series in 2007. In 2009, the character was reintroduced with actor Dylan Patton. In late 2009, it was reported via Soap Opera Digest that Patton had finished filming and the role had been recast to facilitate a new storyline. Chandler Massey, a newcomer to daytime television, won the role. Before he took over the role, Massey watched as many episodes of the series as he could find to familiarize himself with Will. In February 2013, Soap Opera Digest confirmed that Massey's younger brother Christian Massey would portray Will in flashbacks.
Following his second Emmy win, Massey revealed that after his current contract expired, he would vacate the role to return to attend college. When Massey leaves the show, his role will not be recast, but the door will be open in case Massey decides to return. Massey expressed that he would support a recast. However, on August 23, 2013, it was reported Massey had left the show effectively immediately, and that the show would go ahead with a recast due to the character's current storyline. On September 12, 2013, it was announced that actor Guy Wilson was cast in the role of Will. Freddie Smith revealed that the switch between Massey and Wilson will happen on-screen as quick as the news of the recast, saying, "If you blink and open your eyes, you’ll be like, ‘Wait, there’s a new Will?!’ [...] It’s literally just ‘BOOM!’” Massey made his final appearance on January 2, 2014 and Wilson made his first appearance on January 8, 2014.
Characterization and family
The character was originally named William Reed, in the series this was homage to his aunt Billie Reed (Lisa Rinna). On the Sony Pictures Entertainment website, a columnist attributes Will's upbringing as being the catalyst for his behaviour in later life. His mother Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) had lied about his paternity, attempting to pass him off Austin Reed's (Austin Peck) child. Austin's brother Lucas Horton (Bryan Dattilo) is revealed to be his biological father. Sami and Lucas have an on and off relationship over the years, which has negative effect on Will. His "turbulent upbringing made him moody and suspicious" and he holds hope that he could have a family just "like other kids". They added that when the character had matured upon returned from time away in Switzerland.
In 2011, Austin (Patrick Muldoon) was reintroduced into the series. Massey said that the two characters share a bond because of their time living together in Switzerland. Will sees Austin as a "father figure" and he often feels paternal, despite his brother Lucas being out as Will's biological father.
It was originally reported that Will would be coupled with Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), who is a gay character. However, Smith later revealed that Sonny could become involved with a new character and not Will. Will later strikes up a friendship with Sonny. Massey told Damon L. Jacobs from We Love Soaps that Will has a close relationship with Sonny. Will looks up to and respects him because he has encountered hate in Salem but remains confident and comfortable with who he is. Massey said that Will cannot help but admire these qualities in Sonny as "they are rare to see". The two character share a "bromance" more than anything else.
In August 2011, Massey told Jacobs that he did not know if the series were going to proceed with a gay storyline for Will. He claimed that he was yet to receive any scripts to suggest that Will would. In November 2011, Lynette Rice of Entertainment Weekly announced that the serial were going ahead with Will's gay storyline. Will's story received approval from NBC and Sony Pictures Entertainment, who air the show. Days of Our Lives Co-Executive Producer Greg Meng told Rice that "we are excited to have the encouragement and support from both NBC and Sony to tell the inspiring story of a young man learning who he is as he defines and creates his relationships with others." Massey said that he was "thrilled" to play Will in an "empowering way that will show his struggle to accept who he is". He wanted the storyline to help other people to accept themselves for who they are. Amelia Proud from Daily Mail reported that the storyline's inclusion was part of the series focus on attracting a younger audience.
Massey was told that Will would become a gay character in February 2011. When Days of Our Lives employed two new producers and a head writer, it cast uncertainty over the storyline. Massey said that while he was not told whether or not they would proceed, he played Will "with his sexuality in mind". When Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus) ends her relationship with Will, he becomes slightly unhinged. Massey told a reporter from Gay Star News that the scenes were fun to film, but a "challenge to do them convincingly". Massey said that Will's struggle with his sexuality that follows would not be romantic. The character had a lot to deal with and throughout his life "he has put his sexuality on the back burner and hasn't really dealt with it." Massey said that the storyline would reach a "big audience" and hoped that it would promote tolerance.
Will shares a kiss with Neil (Jesse Kristofferson), which is witnessed by Sonny. Massey told Robert Waldron of Soap Opera Digest that Will had been keeping his "self-loathing and disgust" over his sexuality to himself, which results in him becoming "tightly wound". Will drinks alcohol to make himself feel "less awkward", in turn this makes him do something he wouldn't when he is of a sober mind. Massey added that being caught by Sonny is "one of those moments when Will wishes he could turn invisible". Dattilo told Michael Logan of TV Guide that his character, Lucas is "in shock when he sees Will flirting with another guy". He said that he was proud of the writing, which he opined "stayed true to Lucas" as he is a "very loving and accepting guy". Lucas is worried about Will, he is worried that he may be persecuted because of his sexuality and fall victim to hate crimes. He added that Lucas would "do anything" to protect Will. Will is left feeling "vulnerable and exposed" when he finds out that Lucas is resuming his relationship with Sami. Will lashes out at Lucas and reveals that he is gay. Dattilo praised Massey's performance in the scenes. The actor had only worked alongside Massey on few occasions before his departure in 2010. He added that it was like meeting a new actor because Massey just "rips up every scene".
Will was born on November 16, 1995, but was changed to January 1992, to Sami and Austin via c-section. It would later be revealed that Sami forged hospital records to conceal the fact that Lucas Roberts is Will's biological father. Over the following years, Will is centric to a custody battle between his parents. In addition he is a source of bad feeling between Sami and his grandmother Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow). Will later becomes rebellious, informally addressing his parents and hurting his cousin Abby. Will has issues with his parents being separated. He catches them together on a number of occasions and thinks they will reconcile. Lucas proposes to Sami, but they later separate when Sami is unfaithful, leaving Will upset. However, they reunite and attempt to marry again until Sami ruins it once more. Lucas marries Will's aunt Carrie, while Sami gets engaged to Austin. Will is happy with the outcome of his parents’ new relationships. Sami ruins her latest relationship, but this time Will cannot cope and runs away to Chicago. Sami fears that he has been kidnapped and goes onto the news to plea for his safe return, which prompts Will to come home.
Lucas moves back in with Will and Sami after Carrie has an affair with Austin and they move away. Will is pleased to have his parents together once more and they become engaged. Kate tries to ruin the wedding again but they marry regardless. However, due to the rift between the Brady and DiMera families, Will's home life is ruined once again. Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) tells Sami that she has to divorce Lucas and marry E.J. to end the feud. Sami agrees, but Will cannot cope with their latest split and lashes out at Sami. Will is sent to stay with Austin in Switzerland in order to protect him from the DiMeras. Upon his return he is still angry with Sami and clashed with her and Lucas. Will's behaviour becomes worse and after he is caught underage drinking, they send him back to Switzerland.
Will decides to return and live with Sami. Will strikes up a friendship with Mia McCormick (Taylor Spreitler) and they grow close, not realizing she has been dishonest about her past. They enter a relationship following the death of his sister, Grace. Will ends their relationship when it becomes apparent that Mia has feelings for her ex-boyfriend Chad DiMera (Casey Deidrick). Mia tells him about her pregnancy and he gets back with her. Mia then separates from him in order to prevent Chad from finding information about the baby Nicole had adopted. Will then discovers that Mia is back with Chad the following day. Then everyone discovers Grace was not Sami's biological daughter, and Sydney was her real daughter after a mix up. Will is willing to date Mia again following the news but he soon changes his mind when he realizes that Mia is playing games with himself and Chad.
Will and Sami have further arguments and he encourages Sami to date Rafe Hernandez (Galen Gering) because he does not like EJ DiMera (James Scott). Will moves in with Kate and Stefano because of EJ, but she later gets him to move back. Will starts a relationship with Gabi. He also becomes friends with Sonny, but is shocked to learn that he is gay. He tells Gabi that he is okay with Sonny's sexuality. Will avoids getting intimate with her while they are together. He then asks her to move in with him and she accepts, but when Will rebuffs her again, Gabi ends their relationship. Will destroys Maggie's kitchen in anger. He later catches Sami having sex with EJ, which causes friction between the pair. Will bonds with his grandmother Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall) and reveals that Sami is being unfaithful to Rafe. After another argument with Sami, Will goes to a party with Sonny and gets drunk. He meets Neil and kisses him, which is witnessed by Sonny. Will tells Sonny that he was just drunk and goes to see Marlena. He tells her about the kiss and she tells him that she will support him and that she always knew. He then tells Sonny that he is not ready to come out as gay. Will clashes with Sami when she seems more interested in herself than his problems. Sami contacts Lucas asking him to return to Salem. Will has a one-night stand with Gabi, which results in a pregnancy. As Will enters into a relationship with Sonny, Gabi begins to pass the baby off as Nick Fallon's. When the paternity of Gabi's baby is revealed, Sonny and Will split. They soon get back together, however Will still faces an obstacle. Nick begins to blackmail him into giving up his daughter's rights, because he is gay. When Will and Sonny save Nick and Gabi after they are kidnapped by Jensen, Gabi goes into labor and gives birth to their daughter, with Sonny's help, while Will tries to help Nick. Will gets shot after getting into a fight with Jensen; he survives the gunshot and meets his daughter for the first time. As a result of Will's kindness, Nick lets Will put his name on Arianna's birth certificate, in order to make things right. Sonny and Will then allow Gabi to move into the apartment across the hall from them, to keep Arianna close between all three of them.
In 2014, Sonny proposes to Will, to which Will declined and decided they should wait until they're both ready. On Valentine's Day, Will proposes again to Sonny. The pair marry later at the Kiriakis mansion in front of their friends and family. On April 17, 2014, Will asked Gabi for a joint-custody agreement for Arianna, Gabi shocked by the suggestion, leaves to get some air and runs into Nick. Gabi tells Nick about Will asking her for a joint-custody agreement and Nick agrees that they should have some type of custody agreement for Arianna. Gabi returns home and tells Will that she agrees with him and that Nick helped her realize that she was making too much out of what Will said, saying that Nick understood why Will asked for a custody agreement after all that Nick put them through. Will says that Nick could put him, Gabi, Sonny, Kate and Sami in prison anytime he wants, Gabi tells Will that that's not what Nick wants, which leaves Will to question what does Nick want. On April 28, 2014, Will comes home to find custody agreement papers on the couch as he reads the agreement he finds out that his visitation rights have been lowered to every other weekend by Gabi's lawyer, Will instantly thinks that Nick is behind this. Gabi reassures Will that she would never keep him out of Arianna's life and that the custody agreement in his hands is not the final custody agreement. On May 9, 2014, Nick was shot once in the back and twice in the chest in the park, Will was in the Horton Town Square talking to Gabi and Sonny along with Sami, EJ, Kate, Lucas, Gabi, Abigail, Ben, Jordan and Rafe when Nick stumbles into the Town Square revealing to everyone that he'd been shot and then he falls into Julie's arms and when asked by Julie who did this to him, he tries to point at someone in the in the crowd. On May 28, 2014, Thinking that Sonny killed Nick, Will went to the Salem Police Station to see Hope to confess to killing Nick Fallon. On June 2, 2014, before signing his confession, Gabi barges in and admits to killing Nick. Gabi explained that she was scared of Nick's influence over her and felt she had to kill him to stop him from being a threat to Arianna. She also admitted to her role in Melanie's kidnapping which is a shock to everyone. (Later, Sonny had to confess to Will that he knew when Chad told him on December 11, 2012 but couldn't tell Will because of a legal agreement which Nick forced Chad to sign stipulating no one would know Gabi was behind it all. Justin drew this agreement and told sonny not to tell anyone not even Will.) Gabi also told Marlena about her, Kate, and Sami throwing Nick in the river. EJ, who served as Gabi's lawyer, thought it would be better for her to have a plea deal than go to trial and have the truth about Melanie's kidnapping come out. Gabi accepted the plea deal and got ten to twenty years in prison. On June 12, 2014, Gabi says her last farewells leaving Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis responsible for Arianna since both are her fathers. Since then both Will and Sonny has missed her dearly.
Patton was nominated in the category of Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series at the 2010 Daytime Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Will. Massey was nominated for the same category at the 2011 ceremony. Massey won the award in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Luke Kerr of Zap2it opined that Will is an important role within the series. Rick Nelson of the Star Tribune said that Will's coming out storyline was addictive viewing. Anthony D. Langford of AfterElton.com said that Will suffered from "the fate of most TV gays" who are "basically nice guys" with an absence of dark characteristics. He added that this stereotype does not "exactly make riveting television". He later bemoaned the slow pace of Will's coming out storyline. He said that it was "hard to believe" that the scenes took one year air following their announcement and that "many wondered if the moment would actually come". Langford quipped that it would probably take another year for his family to find out. Pascal Parvis of Têtu noted that Will and Neil's kiss was "not a little" and said "What could be better" than the serial's first gay kiss lasting two episodes. Online blogger Perez Hilton described the scenes as "incredible" and "absolutely wonderful". He praised the serial and NBC for not "bowing down to bigoted pressure" and showing a "hot steamy make-out" session as opposed to a kiss. A columnist for The Huffington Post said that it was fortunate that the "much-hyped" scene was more than a kiss. Sara Bibel of Xfinity said that Will and Neil got the "full soap treatment" because other soap operas pan the camera away during same-sex kisses. Bibel said that the subject of homosexuality is no longer "taboo or groundbreaking", but said it was a development for a soap that is usually "socially conservative".
Joachim Ohnona from Pure People said that it took the serial more than ten thousand episodes to air their first gay kiss. He added that it was "better late than never" and opined that some would call it a "non-event" for the soap opera. Dan Avery of Queerty said that the serial "made television history yesterday when it became the absolutely last show to show two men kissing". Avery felt it took too long to show the gay kiss and quipped "he’ll get some bed scenes by 2016". Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice branded the storyline as "Project Get-Fans-Talking" and "the latest effort to remain relevant at a time when soaps are desperately losing their luster". Langford later criticized the storyline for not developing fast enough. He said that Will's scenes with Marlena were "nice" because Massey and Hall have "terrific chemistry".
Will Horton's romance with Sonny Kiriakis has been generally well received by critics and the audience. TV Guide said that "while it took 45 years for the show to introduce its first openly gay character (Sonny) and another year and a half to have him find a male partner (Will), the wait was well worth it. This steamy, star-crossed saga has had drama to spare (Paranoia! Blackmail! Impossible parents!), but its real success lies in the fresh, easy charm of these two young men." TV Source Magazine named Will and Sonny Best Couple of 2012 in the Days of Our Lives series, saying "One of the most refreshing things about Will and Sonny’s relationship is its portrayed just as any heterosexual couple would be. Watching them grow from friends to being in love was one of the highlights of the year for DAYS."
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