‘Days of our Lives’ New Will Horton Speaks: First Interview With Guy Wilson (Exclusive)

'Days of our Lives' New Will Horton Speaks: First Interview With Guy Wilson (Exclusive)

Photo © Howard Wise/jpistudios.com

Guy Wilson talks about the WilSon relationship, fan expectations and stepping into Emmy winner Chandler Massey's shoes

The town of Salem will gain another resident Wednesday, when Guy Wilson steps into the pivotal role of openly gay Will Horton on NBC's “Days of our Lives,” following the departure of Chandler Massey last year.

In his first interview since taking over the role, Wilson — whose credits include “Breaking Bad,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Bones” — talks to TheWrap about filling Massey's shoes, fan expectations, and maintaining the chemistry between Horton and his love interest, Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith).

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TheWrap: What are some of the ways you've prepared to inhabit a role that's previously been played by another actor?

Guy Wilson: Deidre Hall, who plays Marlena, Will's grandmother, has just been a wonderful wealth of information. Before all of our scenes together, we sat down about an hour beforehand and just talked. She said, “Look, this is what Chandler and I have developed. These are some of our inside jokes that our characters share, these are some of our little tics that we have.” It's these little things she explained that really bring relationships — any relationship — to life on screen, so being able to learn about those things, those types of things that Chandler shared with the other characters, has really helped to make me feel like this transition has been as smooth and as fun as possible. Because I think it's the relationships, especially on a show like “Days,” that really bring home the realness of it. And that's really what fans connect with — the realness of the relationships.

Soap fans are notoriously loyal. Are you worried at all that fans of Chandler's portrayal of Will might be reluctant to accept another actor in the role?

I'm not worried about it, more just because I feel like I understand. It can be frustrating when you're a fan of an actor or the character and it changes, because, going back to the concept of relationships, people connect with these characters. I certainly don't take it personally, and if anything, it furthers my admiration for soap fans that they do develop such a connection to an actor or a character. I suppose the attitude that I try to maintain for myself is just to show up and do my job to the best of my ability, and to hold true to the character and the relationship between Will and Sonny. And just have faith that if my acting comes from a true place that, in time, fans — either sooner or later, new or old — will find resonance  with the earnestness that I'm trying to bring to this. I don't expect everyone to like me, and I don't think that it's realistic [to expect that]. And again, this show is very important to people, and I think that's selfish to expect everyone to embrace you right away. All I can do is the best that I can do.

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The recasting happened pretty quickly. Did that present a challenge in preparing for the role?

It did … it's interesting. It wasn't as though the information or the resources weren't there to try to drop into this role as quickly as possible, it was more just doing everything much faster than would normally be the case. But I think if you ask any actor who's spent a lot of time auditioning, you develop a certain muscle just going out on three or four different auditions for three or four different projects a week or more for different genres. You just learn to exercise that muscle of recognizing, ‘OK … this is the essence of his character, and I need to understand the crux of this story that I'm coming into if I'm going to do this audition well.’ So when this opportunity arose as quickly as it did, I knew that I had it in me to do well at the audition. Fortunately I did well enough. And then showing up to set, it was the same sort of thing — just trusting that I had enough experience just auditioning for tons of different things that I was able to drop in early enough that I was able to hold my own. Now that I've been on the show coming up on three months, I feel like I have had the chance to drop in to the level of which one would normally like to prepare. So it certainly happened quickly, but again, because everyone on the show was so gracious and welcoming and supportive, it's made it much easier than I had initially worried about.

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Is there anyone who you would say has been particularly supportive and welcoming?

Oh, well certainly Freddie [Smith, who plays Will's boyfriend Sonny]. Now, that said, everyone has been [welcoming], but Freddie has gone above and beyond what he can do to help me feel welcome and help me to become naturally a part of this relationship. I have so much admiration for Freddie as a person and an actor, and his commitment to the relationship between Will and Sonny. I think he and I both feel that it's a very important storyline and a very important relationship. The fact that we share that passion to tell that story truthfully made it pretty easy to for us to connect early on. If you're a part of a romantic storyline and you and the other actor don't connect, that makes it really difficult. You really have to work extra hard for those feelings to translate on screen. And fortunately, there is no effort for Freddie and I. It was really easy from Day 1 to connect and sort of nurture this new dimension to the relationship between Will and Freddie. I have so much admiration for him, for his integrity. And beyond Freddie, it's hard not to mention everybody. Deidre Hall, certainly, who in my mind is just the queen of the show. I am in such awe and admiration of her and her body of work. She's very supportive and present for me, which has been an honor. And Alison Sweeney, who plays Will's mother, is one of my favorite actors to work with as well.

Also read: ‘Days of Our Lives’ Casting Director Fran Bascom Dead

Chandler is a two-time Emmy winner for his portrayal of Will Horton. Was it intimidating to inherit the role from someone who had been so lauded for it?

You know, I wouldn't say I was intimidated, but knowing that Chandler won those two Emmys, it shows that he created something very special. So more than a sense of intimidation, I feel a great sense of responsibility to carry that role forward. And I really feel that I have what it takes to do that, provided I work as hard as I can. So there was never a sense of anxiety or intimidation, and I certainly don't feel a need to measure up  in terms of accolades or awards — certainly, those are always very exciting, but to me what matters most is just portraying the truthfulness behind the story of Will and Sonny. So knowing that Chandler did such an amazing job, and because he did such an amazing job, the groundwork is there. I just have to keep going in the direction that Chandler put it in. So if anything, he's made my job easier, because he has established such an amazing character.

Any plotlines you'd like to spoil for us?

No. Of course I want to, but I certainly have come to learn the rules, so I'm not allowed to.

  • Nate

    Great interview, I look forward to Guy and what he will bring to Will and WilSon. He seems like a very smart guy.

  • Lauren

    “I certainly have come to learn the rules’ too little too late Guy you made your mistakes early on so bad luck your time is coming

    • Rick Kitchen

      What are you talking about?

      • Jesse Thunder

        She is just a crazy.

        • Rick Kitchen

          why did 8 people thumbs up her comment? And what does her comment even mean?

    • Jesse Thunder

      Wow, stop being an idiot.

      • Mattypitch

        Not an idiot..just don't understand what she meant!

  • Tricia

    They look like they don't even want to be there wonder if there is any chemistry at all judging from the imagery

    • SallyZ

      Oh for god's sake, get OVER IT!!! Chandler is gone…of his OWN free will…and Guy has been hired to do an ACTING job. Give the poor bastard a chance before you shit all over him!!!

      • Joy

        i agree with you sally let the guy act first and see where he takes it glad they are conitnue on with the wilson story

        • Mattypitch

          He has acted and when he needed to step up …he can't.

      • Guest

        For gods sake let other have thei own opinion or feelings! Your version of what happened is different oh well. STOP BEING BULLIES!

        • Reality

          You need to look up the definition of “bully” immediately.

  • Janice

    Do they kill him off? Should be interesting

    • Jesse Thunder

      No. Should do full nudity sex scenes.

      • Rick Kitchen

        On daytime television? That isn't going to happen.

        • Jesse Thunder

          Needs to be on Max or Netflix.

          • Rick Kitchen

            you're an idiot.

    • Rick Kitchen

      no

  • lilyslast

    Loved Chandler Massey as Will Horton its strange to see someone else been his character with a soft spoken voice!

  • Mattypitch

    Tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but he basically same stiff and uncomfortable and not anywhere close to Chandler's acting chops. As I recall when Chandler took over the role of Will who had previously been played by a young guy that again didn't seem to be seasoned in his craft., From the beginning Chandler embrace the role and immediately brought the role of Will Horton to a level not seen by previous actors playing Will! I Really don't want to diss this guy but there has to be someone better suited. For this role. Just my opinion!

    • Barb

      I agree! I think they should have just written Will off the show when they had him to go that Writer's Conference in California. Chandler made Will *his* own and IMHO, no one can fill his shows. Just my opinion!

    • circ64

      Matty, are we watching the same actor? the same show? Don't get me wrong. I adored Chandler, and his initial coming out story, he did an awesome job. But when it came time to pair Chandler up with Freddie, (i will choose your words, it just seemed that Chandler was stiff and uncomfortable in that role. Guy in my opinion has done a fabulous job in JUST the few days he has been on. Did u just watch him that one day, or have u seen his other few appearances? Check out there first bedroom scenes and then tell me that you dont see any chemistry. Check out their pics on Tumblr, and tell me you don't see any chemistry.

      • Mattypitch

        Circ84…….yes watching same show. I certainly am voicing only my opinion. I have to disagree with your critique of Chandler and Freddie's chemistry. Yes, I have watched each show with Guy, hoping he will show me that I am wrong…but unfortunately, he is not adjusting and his performance is less exciting than watching a wet noodle stick on wall and corrode.
        The lack of chemistry between Will and Sonny is painful to watch. I am sure he is great guy and know it is difficult to step in and replace a well loved actor of Chandler acting skills..but it was more than that….Chandler always felt comfortable in his role. Maybe the writers are taking a new tact…but the proposal scene was painful to watch. Just prior to that, the scene at the club with Lucas, Ally and Raph was again hard to watch. His interaction with Ally which was always so great in Will's obvious love and comfort with her and the other 2 fell woefully short. It reminded me of being in high school and actually feeling bad for the person giving a poor performance…when you are embarrassed for him/her!
        Chandler was a handsome, athletic dude…..guy is not! I wish they had casted based on an actor that was skilled and resembled Chandler in his build…you know cast an actor who happens to be gay instead of casting an actor so far different than Chandler. Again just my opinion…but read that Freddie has said that if this new Will doesn't work out that he is leaving DOOL! I would love to see the actors who auditioned for the role…and their tape with Freddie, cause there certainly had to be someone who was better in all aspects Will!

      • Mattypitch

        Meant have watched each show. Not heling is the very slow pace this week and way to many flashbacks! The story lines of all the characters this week feels like DOOL a few years back!!!! Just my opinion…..and certainly grateful for your reply in such an even keel manner! :-)

      • sarah

        I agree with you. You have to give this new actor a chance the same way you gave Chandler a chance when he first portrayed Will. The fact Deirdre Hall is impressed with him should tell you something. If you can't trust her then who can you trust? She has been in the business for over 30 years and she definitely knows talent when she see its. Any actor that takes over for a popular actor and character is going to have some rough times. That is just the way acting is.

  • gina

    This new actor is absolutlely horribe as the new will. he is not attractive first of all but besides that he is so soft spoken. I was not crazy about chandler massey bjt this wilson guy is worse! I think they should just get rid of the whole sonny will storyline it is soo boring! by they way ais soony gay in real life as must be hard to play a gay role without actually being gay. please take out the storyline3 of will and sonny ezpecially since chandler left it just take3s up precious air time. would rather see storyline of jen and daniel and jennifer son and theresa and also nicole and eric and even a bit of rafe and jordan. also take off hope and ciara. ciara is an annoying brat and hope has no storyline without bo.

    • Mattypitch

      No…don't get rid of characters…just get a better actor. My sister is gay and these stories throughout TV shows has helped the sea change in people accepting that gay, straight…no big deal…and leading to more and more legal marriages…giving my sis back the right to marry whomever she wants…..bravo for these stories and the plethora of well known people coming out to America!
      It's a good thing…just need to actually pick an actor who is more Chandler like in skills and looks!

  • June Leathers

    I just love Guy Wilson. I was surprised that Days didn't announce on air that Will is now being played by Guy Wilson. He reminds me of a young Kevin Bacon. I'm looking forward to seeing how he fills Chandler's shoes. His first day was great.

    • Mattypitch

      A young Kevin Bacon…hmmmm…I actually thought Kevin Baker was a great, charismatic actor. Sorry but much more than six degrees of Kevin Bacon! :-)

    • Amanda

      It IS strange they didn't announce it. They used to always do a ticker on the bottom screen stating the new actors name etc

  • TaraMae

    I'm not happy about this and I hate when the soaps change up characters especially my favorites :(:(

    • Rick Kitchen

      Chandler wanted to leave, they had to find a replacement.

      • Mattypitch

        Yep…but one that at least had Chandler's depth, skills and body type….

        • Rick Kitchen

          He's been on three times. Give him a chance.

          • Mattypitch

            Fair enough Rick….I will give him a couple more weeks! And ai will be open minded!

  • Shelly Christopher Seymour

    Don't like the new Will! :(

  • Rhhodapp

    DO NOT LIKE this new guy

  • tanja

    The new will is terrible he just isnt the right fit he doest have the chemistry and hesato stiff and hes just not the right character to play will and its not just because im used to the old will its because he just isnt rhe right actor to play will

  • jack

    They couldn't write will off. It would follow the shows new gay agenda. The gay agenda has no place on days.

    • Reality

      Gay ppl watch the show, they're a huge part of the fan base. But tell us, what exactly IS the “agenda”? Mind control? Hair Care? Fashion Influence? Tolerance & Acceptance??

  • circ64

    All you people on here saying that there is no chemistry between Guy and Freddie, just cannot get past the fact that you will not accept anyone else in the role but Chandler. But what i do have a problem with his, how can u say that he is a terrible actor after just a few times on the air. I think Guy is doing a marvelous job. And if you say u cant see the chemistry, well that's your problem. Have any you even bothered watching their scenes in bed the last couple of days? They are soooo sweet and hot at the same time, and that proposal. WOW. Look I adored Chander, but he decided himself, not ANYONE else that he wanted to leave. And I dont think its fair to Guy to write him off just after a few times on the show. Its not fair to the storyline. If you are truly WILSON fans you should not care what actors play the roles, we should be supporting the story. and the actors playing the roles should come second.

    • longtimedaysfan

      Instead of focusing on Sonny and Will, what about the fact that the old Will actually acted like a father and the new one took forever to even touch the baby. There was great chemistry with Will and his daughter. It's like he isn't even interested in her. I wish Chandler well. I hope his part in the upcoming movie with Alicia Silverstone works out for him. But remember, that is if you have been watching for any length of time, other people have come on the show and not worked out. I just fast forward past them. I may have finally reached the end when Ally leaves.

  • merle

    This has to be very rough for an actor to do. The first time it took me off gard. But by the next episode. It worked for me. I think Guy is doing a great job feeling big shoes. This is how a star is born. Lol, merle

  • Tornado

    In my opinion, dool let chandler go because he made the mistake of a young actor, he won 2 Emmys, announce he was leaving which to dool meant he wanted more money…now he's gone :( which was THEIR mistake. But it does look like freddie feels he can take the lead now that chandler is gone. Guy Wilson is definitely not chandler nor do I want him to be. Very hard to watch sonny, not freddie, with someone that looks way too young, disturbing. He does not look comfortable with guy and looks like he's faking it. Those that have said “were you watching the bedroom scenes?” Yeah I was….were you? Chemistry grabs you right away. When I first saw will and sonny, I came across them by accident but I was hooked the 1st time saw them together. Freddie and guy have absolutely no chemistry.

  • Louleo

    I love the new Will! He is relaxed and fits in well, he is my favorite so far!!

  • bobochild

    I have been watching this show since I was 6 years old! 49 years I have seen actors come and go and even recycled into another character. It's always hard to see someone new play an established character and only time will tell if the new Will stays or goes. Same thing happened when Wayne Northrop left and Drake Hogesten took over the role. Then the writers changed Drake from Roman to John Black and then they brought in Josh Taylor to play Roman. At first I did not like Josh in the role and part of that was because he was on the show before as Chris Kositcheck and it was just strange seeing him as another character, but when they started pairing him with Kate it was easier to see him develop the character. It all comes down to watch or don't watch, or fast forward through the parts you don't like (for me that is Jennifer and Daniel)

  • Cheryl Ring

    My opinion is that the new actor who portrays Will is a good actor and what I am having a problem with is the fact than he has a completely different look that Chandler. The new Will is “smaller” on screen and does not look right next to Sonny. Chandler looked “bigger” on screen and complimented Sonny well. So maybe it's not the actor and his acting skills that everyone is remarking about causing negative reviews BUT the fact that Sonny doesn't look the same with this new Will. He looks nothing like Chandler and has a smaller build that makes it hard to keep the character of Will consistent with the cast change. If the writers want to be consistent with the character of Will they would cast someone closer to Chandler's body build.

  • joni morlin

    I would want Chandler Massey back to play will Horton he is more confidence and chemistry with sonny by him they all ready love each other and they all so make gay sex on this show it is very happy for them to play this role with their marriage to gather as a couple parents with their baby arianna they all ready know that they want to look for rD in the near future

  • Tornado

    I agree with Joni and Cheryl. Even if itn't chandler, then someone who looks older and looks right next to sonny. i so enjoyed watching two young men become men and become comfortable being a gay couple. Things just don't seem as natural as they once were. It's creepy watching sonny with such a younger looking will.

  • bjax

    I am willing to give Guy a chance. The first episode I had trouble, but each time he is on, it gets easier.

  • TamTam

    I don't like the new Will I've tried but there's something about him….get someone one else or write Will off show…I can't stand to watch him.

  • joni morlin

    I think that Chandler Massey is really guy Wilson just wait and see when is eye color change to blue a d his eyes are wide and just might see Chandler Massey in the body of guy Wilson and they will see his arms are huge muscles when he puts his arms around d sonny