|Guy Wilson 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)
Guy Wilson (2014–15)
|Current status||Former; Regular|
|First appearance||November 16, 1995|
|Last appearance||October 13, 2015|
|Cause/reason||Murdered By The Necktie Killer|
|Created by||James E. Reilly|
|Introduced by|| Ken Corday and Tom Langan (1995)|
Ken Corday and Gary Tomlin (2009)
|Fullname||William Robert Horton|
Political campaign staffer
|Chandler Massey As Will Horton|
William "Will" Robert Horton (formerly Roberts, originally Reed) is a fictional character from the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives, most recently portrayed by Guy Wilson. 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 supercouple (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 storyline, 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 Headwriters 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 were pandering to anti-gay sentiment in their audience base.
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 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 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 costar 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.
Luke Kerr of Zap2it opined that Will is an important role within the series.
Awards and nominationsEdit
Darian Weiss, Christopher Gerse, and Dylan Patton, were all nominated for Young Artist Awards for their portrayal of Will. Gerse was nominated twice - in 2004 and 2005. In 2010, Patton received a nomination for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series, and the next year (2011), Chandler Massey was nominated. Massey went on to win the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series—never before won for a gay character —three years in a row, in 2012, 2013, and 2014.
Days of Our Lives won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daily Drama in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, in recognition of the characters and stories of Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis and related characters.
Characterization and familyEdit
The character is originally named William Reed, after his aunt Billie Reed (Lisa Rinna). His mother Sami (Alison Sweeney) has lied about his paternity, attempting to pass him off as Austin's (Austin Peck) son. It is eventually revealed that Austin's brother Lucas (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 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".
Coming out storyEdit
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 it's 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."
Former Days writer Kola Boof, tweeted "I think the killing of Will Horton is one of the biggest dumbest mistakes in Days history. On many levels." Soap Opera Digest condemned the killing, saying it was "sick and violent", and "it got people talking all right, but not in a good way," and whilst realizing that the show needed to boost ratings, "killing off a legacy character like Will was not at all the way to do it." They said that "Will holds a special place in the hearts of Days viewers", because they watched him "grow up on-screen after his birth in 1995", and that "his sensitive coming out tale in 2012" added to his "cherished status". TV Guide Magazine's Michael Logan tweeted "Killing Will is a dumb-ass move. He's not just a legacy character & LGBT icon, this crazy hot mess was storytelling gold. Insane." Logan expanded in his end-of-year review, saying it was "dead wrong" and "idiotic" and "the murder of Days of Our Lives’ landmark gay character Will Horton via brutal strangulation meant the loss of an insanely fascinating fire-starter who had kept the show spinning for years," adding that "many are calling the move homophobic."
Michael Fairman labelled the killing as "The Worst Decision" in soaps in 2015, saying "to kill the legacy character of Will Horton by having him brutally murdered [...] sent a message to the LGBT community, and the viewers, that caused a major negative backlash." Fairman gave the runner-up for "Worst Decision 2015" to Days not having Will's husband upfront at his funeral, "Will’s husband Sonny was relegated to the second row [....] Not cool!" Tony S. of soapcentral.com said that the family photograph of Will, Sonny and Arianna blowing off Will's grave "came across as a promise from someone in charge to homophobic fans [...] as, 'Congrats, you won't have to worry about their kind anymore.'"
James Lott Jr of AfterBuzz TV said Will's murder was a "jump the shark moment", and "I just couldn't believe it!" He said Will was "a character that has been on since pre-birth", and is "related to almost everyone on the show", and "tied to so many people", and "I mean this is really ridiculous to me: to kill Will Horton!" Lott described his experience watching it happen and thinking "you're ruining the show right now - this is the biggest mistake you could have made," and "I was watching it, as the life was coming out of him, the life was coming out of me at the same time, as a long-time viewer." Lott's Afterbuzz TV colleague Tony Moore called Will's death "gruesome" and "hard to watch", and bemoaned that "the whole gay storyline is just going to be done away with." He criticized the writing, in that Will didn't run, cry for help, or fight back. Tony S did too, writing "Will was just as fit as any other Salem heartthrob, but was so discombobulated by a toss to the fridge that he couldn't fight back. Alllll riiiggghhhttt", and "he had a child and husband to live for – to fight for – yet the writers seemed like he couldn't die fast enough." Several commentators criticized the lack of repercussions in the story. Laurisa, a columnist at soapcentral.com, wrote that "the people of Salem were no more invested in solving this crime than they were before Will's death." Michael Logan wrote "Will’s death was pretty much forgotten by the people of Salem within days, even by his own mother," and Soap Opera Digest said "the end game" was "nil", and "people were giddily partying to honor Salem's birthday party mere weeks after his graphic murder!"
Mark J Freeman of Afterbuzz TV talked in strongly critical terms about pandering to viewers who dislike seeing gay characters on TV : "instead of just saying 'a majority of middle america doesn't like the gay storyline: let's kill them' [...] how about being the change?", And "if someone doesn't like Adrienne - are you just going to kill Adrienne? I mean where is the cut off to what you are going to listen to? Where are you going to start standing up [...] and being the voice of change?" Freeman framed it in an historical context, saying, "there are things in American history, that a majority of people [...] thought was right, and it didn't make it right, [...] and it doesn't mean that change should not have happened."
Fans expressed outrage via social media and article comment threads and letters to Soap Opera Digest. Fans claimed that homosexual people and marriage and parenthood were being demeaned by : Days not having Will's in-laws (and best friend Tad "T" Stevens) at Will's funeral, and having Will's husband Sonny put in the second row; by Days having Sonny abandoning his husband's bereft two-year old daughter (whom Sonny had raised with Will) immediately after Will was murdered; and by Days having Will's cousin Abigail, and his friend Chad, repeatedly refer to Will as one of "those people" who had been murdered. On October 9, fan "Mistress Euclid" tweeted Days of Our Lives, saying "Will Horton was a beacon in the face of bullying and persecution. Today, you expect LGBTQ youth to watch his life strangled away". Soap Opera Digest printed a letter from "Melinda in Philadelphia" saying : "In my 30-plus years as a Days viewer, I have never been more disgusted by a storyline [...] As the mother of a young son who was struggling with his sexuality, we were able to watch Will come out, fall in love, and get married [...] Now I regret ever encouraging him to watch."
A fan tweeted thanks to Alison Sweeney (who plays Will's mother, Sami Brady) for sharing her reaction to the killing of Will. Sweeney told Soap Opera Digest: "I was angry. I felt betrayed and hurt", and "this particular story point is something that I just don't agree with and I didn't from the moment they told me. And I don't understand why they did it." Sweeney said: "it breaks my heart that there is no Will anymore."
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 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, 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.