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
Chandler Massey as Will Horton
Dylan Patton as Will Horton
William Robert "Will" 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, Massey won a second Emmy award 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, which leads to a pregnancy, with Gabi. He begins a relationship with Sonny, but it all ends when the truth about Gabi's baby father is revealed. They get back together, but Will still faces an obstacle. Nick blackmails him into giving up his daughter's rights, basically since he was gay. Will and Sonny save Nick and Gabi after they are kidnapped by Jensen. Gabi gives birth to their daughter, with Sonny's help, while Will tries to help Nick. He gets shot after getting into a fight with Jensen. Hope intervenes, shoots Jensen, and makes sure they get off the Island. Will survives and meets his daughter for the first time. Nick lets Will put his name on Arianna's birth certificate, in order to make things right.
Will is surprised when Sonny reveals that he placed a deposit on the apartment across from them, and that Gabi and Arianna could move in. Gabi agrees, but thanks Kate for the offer to stay with her.
Will and the gang try to adjust to the new living arrangements, but Will starts to question if this is what Sonny really wants.
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 award at the 2011 ceremony. Massey was pre-nominated in the same category at the 2012 Daytime Emmy Awards and he went on to win the award. Massey would again be nominated in the same category at the 2013 Daytime Emmy Awards and he went on to win the award.
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."
- Will's full name, William Robert Horton, and age, 20, is listed on Arianna's birth certificate. June 5, 2013. 0:06 minutes in.
- "Will Horton (Chandler Massey)". Sony Pictures Entertainment. (Sony). Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- "Media: Will & Sonny: Days of Our Lives' new supercouple!". E Wall Streeter (American Media, Inc.). March 17, 2013. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
- "The Daytime TV Power Couple That May (or May Not) Surprise You". July 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
- Di Lauro, Janet. "Profile of Will Horton". About.com. (The New York Times Company). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Di Lauro, Janet (2003). "Nice to Meet You: Christopher Gerse (Will, Days)". Soap Opera Digest. (Source Interlink). Archived from the original on February 18, 2010. Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- "Days: Patton Out, Massey In". Soapnet. (Disney-ABC Television Group). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Jacobs, Damon L. (August 30, 2011). "We Love Soaps TV 3.08 On The Set Of Days With Chandler Massey". Welovesoaps.net. (We Love Soaps LLC). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- "DAYS Casts Star's Brother". Soap Opera Digest. American Media, Inc. February 8, 2013. Retrieved February 8, 2013.
- Branco, Nelson (June 5, 2013). This Just In. "2 DAYS STARS LEAVING!". Soap Opera Uncensored (72): 8.
- Kroll, Dan J (June 18, 2013). "Massey repeats, as Alderson wins first Emmy in first nomination". Soap Central. Soapcentral.com. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
- Rudolph, Christopher (June 18, 2013). "Chandler Massey, 'Days Of Our Lives' Star, Wins Second Emmy For Gay Teen Portrayal". The Huffington Post. AOL. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
- Fairman, Michael (July 2, 2013). "The Ken Corday Interview – Days of our Lives". On-Air On-Soaps. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- Fairman, Michael (July 26, 2013). "DAYS Chandler Massey: "If they decide to bring someone else to play Will, I won’t be upset and bitter. I want what is best for WilSon!". On-Air On-Soaps. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- SOD (August 23, 2013). "Exclusive! Chandler Massey Off DAYS - Effective Immediately!". Soap Opera Digest. Soapoperadigest.com. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
- SOD (September 12, 2013). "DAYS's Jen Lilley Reveals New Will". Soap Opera Digest. Soapoperadigest.com. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
- Cliffford, Kimbra (November 14, 2013). "‘DAYS’’ Freddie Smith Speaks Out About the Chandler Massey/Guy Wilson Recast". Soap Opera Digest. Retrieved November 15, 2013.
- Clifford, Kambra (December 20, 2013). "From Massey to Wilson: Actor Switch Dates Revealed for ‘DAYS’ Will Horton". Soap Opera Network. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- Di Lauro, Janet (August 15, 2011). "Will out as Sonny's Love Interest on Days of Our Lives?". About.com. (The New York Times Company). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Rice, Lynette (October 31, 2011). "'Days of Our Lives': Another Salem character comes out of the closet - Exclusive". Entertainment Weekly. (Time Inc.). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Proud, Amelia (February 24, 2012). "Days of Our Lives makes US daytime soap opera history by featuring gay kiss". Daily Mail. (Associated Newspapers). Retrieved March 8, 2012.
- Hernandez, Greg (December 7, 2011). "Actor relishes gay role on US soap opera". Gay Star News. (Gay Star News Ltd). Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Tereszcuk, Alexis (February 23, 2012). "Actor opens up about Days of our Lives gay kiss". RadarOnline.com. (American Media). Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- Logan, Michael (February 24, 2012). "Days of Our Lives Scoop: Lucas Beds Sami! Bryan Dattilo Dishes His Return to Salem". TV Guide. (TV Guide Network). Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- New Years Eve 2013 is mentioned on December 27/30, 2013. Will kept on mentioning his surprise birthday party through mid-late December 2013.
- Garrett, Tommy (May 16, 2010). "Daytime Emmy Nominations Announced". Canyon News. (Glen Kelly). Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- "38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards Nominations Announced". About.com. (The New York Times Company). May 13, 2010. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Bowe, Jillian (March 2, 2012). "BREAKING NEWS: 2012 Daytime Emmy Pre-Noms Announced!". Zap2it. (Tribune Media Services). Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- "‘General Hospital’ scores 5 Daytime Emmys, including best drama; ‘Today,’ ‘Jeopardy!’ also win". Associated Press. June 23, 2012. Retrieved June 24, 2012.
- Townsend, Megan (June 17, 2013). "DAYTIME ENTERTAINMENT EMMY AWARDS: CHANDLER MASSEY AND 'DAYS OF OUR LIVES' WIN BIG". glaad.org. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- DiLauro, Janet (June 17, 2013). "Days of Our Lives Wins 2013 Daytime Emmy Awards". About.com/ Days of our Lives Fans. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
- Kerr, Luke (December 7, 2009). "Days' Dylan Patton out, Chandler Massey in as Will Horton". Zap2it. (Tribune Media Services). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Nelson, Rick; Peck, Claude (March 3, 2012). "Withering Glance: TV tackles Broadway musical in 'Smash'". Star Tribune. (The Star Tribune Company). Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Langford, Anthony D. (September 1, 2011). "Langford On Soaps: Blame It On Irene!". AfterElton.com. (Logo). Retrieved March 31, 2012.
- Langford, Anthony D. (February 15, 2012). "Langford on Soaps: Will Finally Says He's Gay on "Days Of Our Lives"". AfterElton.com. (Logo). Retrieved March 4, 2012.
- Parvis, Pascal (February 24, 2012). "A first gay kiss on the soap "Days of Our Lives"". Têtu (in French). (MPPC). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Hilton, Perez (February 24, 2012). "Days Of Our Lives Airs Their First Gay Kiss!!!". Perezhilton.com. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- "'Days Of Our Lives' Gay Kiss: Will And Neil's Steamy Smooch Makes Daytime Soap History". The Huffington Post. (AOL). February 24, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- Bibel, Sara (February 23, 2012). "Deep Soap: ‘Days of Our Lives’ Has First Gay Kiss". Xfinity. (Comcast). Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- Ohnona, Joachim (February 24, 2012). "'Days of Our Lives': First gay kiss after 46 years of broadcasting!". Pure People (in French). (Disney Co). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Avery, Dan (February 24, 2012). "Days of our Lives has first gay kiss—Finally!". Queerty. (Five3Five Media). Retrieved March 5, 2012.
- Rice, Lynette (February 22, 2012). "'Days of our Lives': Time for first gay kiss! -- PHOTO". Entertainment Weekly. (Time Inc.). Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- D. Langford, Anthony (March 14, 2012). "Langford on Soaps: Is "General Hospital" Getting A Gay?". AfterElton.com. (Logo). Retrieved March 14, 2012.
- Lewis, Errol (November 16, 2012). "According to TV Guide Magazine ‘GH’ is ‘Hot Again,’ While ‘DAYS’ Has ‘Hotter Nights’". soapoperanetwork.com. Retrieved June 3, 2013.
- TVSource, Team (January 28, 2013). "Best of 2012: Soap Opera Edition". tvsourcemagazine.com. Retrieved June 3, 2013.