|Chandler Massey as Will Horton|
|Days of our Lives|
|Portrayed by|| Shawn and Taylor Carpenter (1995–2002)|
Darian Weiss (2002–03)
Christopher Gerse (2003–08)
Dylan Patton (2009–10)
Chandler Massey (2010–14, 2017–present)
Guy Wilson (2014–15)
|Current status||Present; Contract (departing)|
|Duration||1995–2015, 2017 –present|
|First appearance||November 16, 1995|
|Created by||James E. Reilly|
|Introduced by|| Ken Corday and Tom Langan (1995)|
Ken Corday and Gary Tomlin (2009)
|Fullname||William Robert Horton|
|Alias(es)|| EJ DiMera|
William Robert Reed
William Reed Roberts
|Namesake(s)|| Billie Reed|
William Bill Horton II
|Born||November 16, 1992 (Originally November 16,1995)|
|Died||October 9th, 2015 (Resurrected in November of 2017)|
|Cause of death||Strangulation (By Ben Weston/The "Necktie Killer;" Resurrected)|
Political campaign staffer
|Residence|| Salem, Illinois|
Memphis, Tennessee (former)
Los Angeles, California (former)
William "Will" Robert Horton (formerly Roberts, originally Reed) is a fictional character from the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, portrayed by Chandler Massey. Will is the son of Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) and Lucas Horton (Bryan Dattilo). The character first appeared on November 16, 1995. In the storyline, Sami gives birth to Lucas' baby but pretends that Austin Reed (Austin Peck) is the father so that he will marry her. The ruse is ultimately revealed, and Will subsequently endures a "turbulent upbringing" due to his mother's complicated love life and endless machinations.
The character was a recurring child role until recast as a teen with Dylan Patton in 2009, and as a young adult with Chandler Massey in 2010. After a 2011 announcement that Will would be involved in a gay storyline, the character kisses another man in 2012. Massey said that he hoped his storyline would challenge people's views on homosexuality and promote tolerance. Will later becomes romantically involved with Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), with the pair becoming the show's first same-sex super-couple (commonly referred to by the portmanteau "WilSon").
Luke Kerr of Zap2it called Will one of the show's most important characters. Various LGBT news sources have criticized the slow pace of Will's coming out story line, while others noted that Days of Our Lives was one of the last shows to portray gay characters. Patton and Massey both received Daytime Emmy Award nominations for their portrayal of Will. In 2012, Massey won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series, never before won for a gay character. In 2013 and 2014, Massey won his second and third Daytime Emmys in the same category.
The character of Will was killed off (with murder) on October 9, 2015, a month before the show's 50th Anniversary, by new Head writers Dena Higley and Josh Griffith. This generated "major" fan backlash, and criticism in the soap press, as well as accusations that Days of Our Lives was pandering to anti-gay sentiment in their audience base.
On September 15, 2017, Chandler Massey returned as Will Horton.
The role of Will Horton was originally played by child actors Shawn and Taylor Carpenter from 1995 until 2002. Darian Weiss played the character until 2003, until Christopher Gerse was cast in the role. Gerse told Janet Di Lauro of Soap Opera Digest that he had previously auditioned for Will, and then another part, but had not landed either role. When he was finally cast, Gerse said, "I was so happy to get on DAYS ... I've always wanted to have a recurring part on a TV show." Gerse left the series in 2007 and made a brief return in 2008. In 2009, the character was reintroduced as a rebellious teen with actor Dylan Patton. Soap Opera Digest reported in late 2009 that Patton had finished filming, and that the role had been recast to facilitate a new story line. 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 in 2013, Massey revealed that after his current contract expired, he would vacate the role to return to college. Executive Producer Ken Corday said, "I wish he would stay. I keep telling him to change his mind, don't go away ... The door will always be open here to Chandler. We are not going to recast Will, but I wish him well". Massey expressed that he would support a recast, saying "If they decide to bring someone else to play Will, I won't be upset and bitter. I want what is best for WilSon!" 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. His co-star Freddie Smith revealed that the switch between Massey and Wilson would 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. Coinciding with the exit of Alison Sweeney from the series, Wilson took a brief hiatus on October 30, 2014 as Will accompanies Sami out of town. He appeared on December 1, 2014, and then returned full-time on December 11, 2014. In September 2015, it was announced that Wilson was let go from the show and that the role would not be recast. Wilson's last appearance was on October 13, 2015.
Characterization and family
The character is originally named William Reed, after his uncle Austin Reed (Austin Peck). His mother Sami Brady (Alison Sweeney) has lied about his paternity, attempting to pass him off as Austin's son. It is eventually revealed that Austin's half-brother Lucas Horton (Bryan Dattilo) is Will's biological father. Sami and Lucas have an on and off relationship over the years, which has a negative effect on Will. His "turbulent upbringing" makes him "moody and suspicious" and he holds hope that he could have a family just "like other kids". Will has matured upon returning from time away in Switzerland in 2009.
In 2011, Austin (Patrick Muldoon) was reintroduced into the series. Chandler Massey (playing Will) said that the two characters share a bond; Will sees Austin as a "father figure" and Austin often feels paternal.
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 series was 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 story line to help other people to accept themselves for who they are. Amelia Proud from Daily Mail reported that the story-line'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 is born on November 16, 1995 (later retconned to 1992) to Sami and Austin via Caesarean section. It is later revealed that Sami forged hospital records to conceal the fact that Lucas is Will's biological father. Over the following years, Will is centric to a custody battle between his parents. In addition, he is caught up in the bitter feud between Sami and Lucas' mother Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow). A young Will later rebels against his parents, whom he hopes will get back together permanently, but Sami usually manages to somehow sour their repeated reunions. Lucas marries Sami's half-sister Carrie Brady, and Sami gets engaged to Austin. Will is happy that his parents are in happy their new relationships, but when Sami and Austin separate again, 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 leave town. Will is pleased to have his parents together once more, and Lucas and Sami become engaged. They marry despite Kate's attempts to stop them. Stefano DiMera (Joseph Mascolo) tells Sami that she has to divorce Lucas and marry Stefano's son EJ DiMera (James Scott) to end the longstanding Brady-DiMera feud. Sami agrees, but Will cannot cope with his parents' latest split and lashes out at Sami. Will is sent to stay with Austin in Switzerland in order to protect him from the DiMeras. He returns, still angry with Sami, and clashes with her and Lucas. Will is caught underage drinking, and they send him back to Switzerland.
Dylan Patton (pictured) played Will on his 2009 return from Switzerland. Will (now Dylan Patton) returns to Salem to live with Sami in February 2009, meeting and eventually dating Mia McCormick (Taylor Spreitler). The new relationship is complicated by Mia's past with Chad DiMera (Casey Deidrick), with whom she secretly had a daughter who was then illegally adopted by Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker). After a baby switch, and the child's death, the secret is revealed, and Will ends things with Mia rather than remaining in a triangle with Chad.
In 2010, Will (now Chandler Massey) hates EJ DiMera, and encourages Sami to date the respectable Rafe Hernandez (Galen Gering) instead, even moving in with Kate and Stefano to avoid EJ. Will begins dating Gabi Hernandez (Camila Banus) and befriends Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith), who Will is surprised to learn is gay. Will avoids getting intimate with Gabi, and she eventually ends the relationship. Angry after catching Sami cheating on Rafe with EJ, Will goes to a party with Sonny, gets drunk and kisses a man named Neil (Jesse Kristofferson). Will talks about the kiss with his grandmother Marlena Evans (Deidre Hall), who promises her support and tells him that she always knew he might be gay. Will confides in Sonny that he is not ready to come out as gay, and has a one-night stand with Gabi that results in a pregnancy. As Will enters into a relationship with Sonny, Gabi pretends that the baby has been fathered by her new boyfriend Nick Fallon (Blake Berris). Will and Sonny split when the paternity of Gabi's baby is revealed, but soon reunite. Not wanting Will involved in the coming baby's life because he is gay, Nick discovers that Will had shot EJ years before, and blackmails Will to sign away his parental rights. After Will is later shot while trying to save Nick's life, Nick relents; though Nick and Gabi are married, Will is named as baby Arianna's father on her birth certificate.Will and Sonny marry in 2014. Will is negotiating a joint custody agreement with Gabi and Nick in May 2014 when Nick is shot and killed. Thinking that Sonny did it, Will confesses to protect him. On June 2, 2014, Gabi admits to killing Nick, who she felt was a threat to her and Arianna. Gabi accepts a plea deal and goes to prison, leaving Arianna in the care of Will and Sonny. In October 2014, Will leaves Salem temporarily with Sami, who is mourning EJ's death, but returns in December 2014. Will's absence and Sonny's financial troubles with his new club have strained their relationship, and Will plunges himself into his new career as a journalist. He begins interviewing injured star baseball player Paul Narita (Christopher Sean), whom Will soon realizes is gay but closeted. Meanwhile, Paul reconnects with Sonny, the love of his life whom he let slip away to pursue his career. Sonny's heart had been broken, but he assures Paul that he is now happily married.
Not knowing their mutual connection to Sonny, Will and Paul fall into bed together in January 2015, and Will is immediately remorseful. Sonny finds out about Will and Paul, but is stabbed in the park before he can confront them. Sonny's memory is impaired while he recovers, but when he remembers what Will did, Sonny rejects Will and leaves Salem to convalesce. When he returns, they struggle to mend their relationship, but Will's indiscretion is made public and the Kiriakis family turn against Will. Desperate to repair his marriage and terrified of losing Sonny to Paul, Will does all he can to get Paul to leave town. Will discovers that Paul's mother, Tori Narita (Hira Ambrosino), is keeping a secret from Paul, and threatens to tell Paul if Tori does not convince him to depart for good. Sonny is furious when he finds out about Will's machinations, and leaves town again, ostensibly to take care of Kiriakis family business.
Giving Sonny time to think, Will is confident that they will be reunited. Ben Weston (Robert Scott Wilson) asks Will to be his best man in his upcoming wedding to Will's cousin, Abigail Deveraux (Kate Mansi). While waiting for Ben at his apartment, Will leaves Sonny a hopeful voice message, admitting his fault in their breakup, and expressing his love. Will discovers a red necktie in Ben's trash can, and is aware of the serial killer currently at large in town who has murdered two women by strangling them with such a necktie, which is left with the body. Ben arrives just as Will realizes that he must be the Necktie Killer. Will tries to leave, but Ben manages to knock him out.
On October 9, 2015, Ben strangles Will to death with the tie Sonny is ecstatic to get Will's message, and intends to return immediately to put things back together. He is devastated to hear of Will's death, and returns to Salem to bury his husband rather than reconcile with him. Meanwhile, Ben has made sure Chad DiMera is the prime suspect in the murders, but Ben becomes increasingly violent and unhinged as his relationship with Abigail self-destructs. Ben is arrested and publicly revealed as the Necktie Killer after nearly murdering Chad and Abigail.
On September 15, at St. Luke's, Will returned as a ghost to help his father who began drinking again. He tries to help him stop and remind him that still has so much to live for before he offers him a hug and telling him "I love you", before disappearing. On September 22, Sonny had a dream of Will where he proclaimed his love to him, and Will asked Sonny why he was marrying Paul if he still loved him.
Will visited Lucas again when Lucas was at his grave, vowing not to let anyone dig him up. Will warned his father that he would end up in a grave. Lucas momentarily believed Will wasn't truly alive before Will gently reminded him that he was an apparition of Lucas' drunken mind. Will dumped the alcohol on the ground, and that made Lucas believe Will was alive. When Kate arrived at Will's grave, Lucas insisted Will was really there, but Kate and he wasn't. Lucas asked Kate who dumped out the alcohol, but when Ben looked at the bottle, it was still filled with alcohol.
It is soon revealed that Will did not die when he was strangled. When Will had entered Ben's apartment, he was being followed by Susan Banks (Eileen Davidson), who was planning to abduct Will in an act of revenge against Sami, whom she blamed for her son EJ's death. When Ben slipped out after strangling Will, Susan and her associate Dr Wilhelm Rolf (who had revived Sami's step-dad John back when he was thought to be dead) secretly entered, and Dr Rolf found Will to be unconscious but breathing. He then injected Will with something that would make him appear to be dead. After Lucas and Sami had viewed Will in the morgue, Dr Rolf (William Utay) revived Will. It turns out that Will's family unwittingly buried an empty coffin at his funeral, and Will, who had lost all his memories, was taken by Susan, who took care of him, but made him believe that he was her son EJ.
In the fall of 2017, Sonny and Paul are to marry, and Ben escapes from Bayview Sanatarium, and crashes their double wedding with Chad and Abigail to announce that Will is alive. This is met with a high degree of skepticism, but Sonny, who thinks Will died thinking Sonny didn't love him, really wants to know the truth, and says he can't marry Paul until he knows. Sami returns to Salem to find out the truth. When investigation reveals that the claim that Will is alive originates from Dr Rolf, this ignites hope that it is true. The investigation leads to an address in Memphis, where they find Susan. Will is working at a local bar, and Lucas is the first to see him, but he is inebriated, and thinks he is hallucinating and does not realize he has really seen Will. Paul then sees Will, but is afraid to tell people in case he loses Sonny. Eventually he confesses to Sonny, and Sonny and Sami find Will, and discover that he does not recognize them, and does not believe that they are his real family. But John persuades Susan's partner Roger (John Enos), whom Will trusts, to admit to Will what Susan has done. And Will, with some encouragement from Marlena, decides to return to Salem, to find out who he really is.
Even meeting his daughter does not trigger Will's memory. Sami, learning that re-living a traumatic event can trigger memory, has Will assaulted and strangled again by Ben. Absolutely terrified, Will rejects his mom, and remembering; but then the intervention of Will's Uncle Eric helps bring about a rapprochement with Sami. Sonny realizes he wants to be with Will, and dumps Paul. Sonny endeavors to rebuild a relationship with Will, but Will does not remember their love. Instead, Will crushes on Paul. Will also likes Paul because he does not feel pressured to be the old Will with him, whereas he feels Sonny wants him to be someone he does not remember being. Thinking he may never remember, Will decides to divorce Sonny, believing it best for both of them. Will and Paul become friends, and when Paul suspects John of poisoning Will's Uncle Steve, they investigate together. Their adventure brings them close, and Paul develops feelings for Will. They start dating, and become a couple. Paul encourages Will to apply to be a journalist with the Salem Spectator, and Will gets the job. His first assignment is to investigate the drug that was used to revive him. Will discovers accounts of Dr. Rolf's resurrection experiments, and finds that Rolf was working on a formula to counter the amnesia side-effect. With Paul's help, Will gets the chemical synthesized, and Marlena injects it into Will at the hospital. Initially there is no effect, but later a brief memory of Will's early experience with Sonny flashes into his head. Will wants to take another dose, but the hospital board forbids it; so Will steals the remaining chemical. Worried for him, Paul is upset when he finds out Will intends to inject himself with more, but seeing Will's determination, he injects Will himself. Will gets a few more isolated snippets of memories, and then in August 2018, at the wedding of his grandma Marlena and John Black, he suddenly recalls Marlena marrying him and Sonny. Overwhelmed, he slips away from the wedding. Sonny runs into him, and Will experiences a cascade of memories of their wedding and their love together. Sonny encourages Will, and in an avalanche of recall, Will remembers his family, his love for them, and his entire life. Will remembers everything – and he and Sonny embrace and kiss.
Maladies and Injuries
- Shot during a struggle with Jensen. [May 2013]
- Disoriented after being thrown against a fridge by Ben Weston, then got strangled by him. [Oct 12, 2015]