It’s been a whirlwind year for Days of Our Lives star Chandler Massey, which last month culminated in his winning the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Will Horton. The reclusive, handsome young star captivated the critics, fans and LGBT community with his honest and raw performances as Will struggled to admit to himself—and others—that he was gay.
At 21 years old, with a bright future ahead as the current “poster guy” for playing gay on daytime TV, Frontiers wanted to learn about Massey’s life off-screen. But first, we relived Emmy night—and got a preview of Will’s upcoming romance with Sonny (Freddie Smith) on Days!
As it turns out, even though Chandler was the odds-on favorite in his category, he didn’t think so. He related his Emmy day jitters or lack of them. “I woke up that morning and I decided I was not going to win. I was not nervous,” Chandler revealed. “But then when they started announcing my category, my heart started pounding. I thought, ‘What the heck?’ I didn’t think I had a chance till 15 seconds before they called my name. And I did not even hear them call it. My dad had to push me up out of my chair to the stage!”
A very shocked Chandler made a quick speech, though reflecting back, he admits there was more he wanted to say. “I didn’t prepare an acceptance speech, because I did not want to jinx it. I missed thanking my grandparents. I could have articulated more that I wanted to thank the people who watch and support the story. Accolades are great, but the real award is hearing people say that they related to it, or it moved them. I wish I would have thanked the viewers for that. Who knows? Maybe one day I will get another chance!” Chandler later admitted he had a bed mate post-Emmy—the gold statuette! “Yes, it’s true—I slept with her.” [Laughs]
But while Chandler praises the Days creative team for the coming out story, he does admit that he has begun to realize his own contributions to making Will’s story jump off the page and connect with the audience. “When it really hit me was at the Outfest Days event,” he admitted. “They played 30 minutes of clips spanning months of Will’s journey. When I saw the story all together, that is when I felt really proud of the work I did. It feels good to see your work pay off and make somewhat of a difference.”
Now that Will has come out, the next step is to find romance, of course! After testing the waters, Chandler indicates that this summer and into the fall, fans can expect Will and Sonny to become much closer. “It looks that way. I think it’s going to be something that hopefully the viewers have wanted to see. If I could give them that, that would be great. I am outspoken about how much I like the platonic friendship of Will and Sonny because I thought it was fresh. Regardless of how I feel about that, I am still going to play that to the best of my ability.”
The other onscreen duo that has been tantalizing viewers is the twisted relationship between the dashing EJ (James Scott) and Will, where many have joked it’s more like … master/slave! Chandler reveals it may not be continuing. “All good things have to come to an end. I can’t help but hold back a smile, and sometimes I don’t when I work with James. I think it’s hands-down my favorite relationship that Will has. When James is in a scene, his focus is on you. That is how people are in real life; they want to get something from you. How many people aren’t afraid to do whatever it takes to do what they want? That is what makes EJ so attractive to Will. I also like Will edgier, too. It is more fun to play.”
So what does Chandler like to do outside of being Salem’s Will? We got the lowdown, from when he first wakes up to start his day until he climbs into bed at night. “I make breakfast. Usually it’s one of two things: I’ll put some bread in the toaster and put almond butter on it and then some bananas, or I’ll make a smoothie with some vegan protein powder and some frozen berries—or just munch on some Kale. Part of it has to do with the lifestyle out here, but really it started with my mom, because she’s a triathlete and health-conscious. So she planted that seed. I like to eat healthy.
“Next, I like to go hiking. I like to drive out to the Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu. There is a Backbone Trail there. When I hike, it’s going to be a seven-mile one. It’s good to quiet your mind. For my other workout, I like to do CrossFit. The best place for this is FitWorks. CrossFit is constant high-intensity functional movement. It’s anything from running to chin-ups, push-ups, squats, Olympic lifting and Kettlebell stuff. Every WOD [Workout of the Day] they prescribe is either a bunch of movements where you have to finish them as fast as you can, or you have 20 minutes to do as many reps as you can. It’s in a class-style environment and it’s great. You are doing it with people who are fit and competitive. It’s like having your own personal trainer who really knows their stuff at a tenth of the price of having one.
“After CrossFit, I chill out a bit at home, work on my lines or do school work for a class that day. I’m taking classes at UCLA. My major is Mandarin Chinese. It’s always been a language I’m interested in! I think it’s going to be very useful in the future and a good backup plan for me. If I can’t make it in Hollywood, I guess I would move to China and hopefully be in the Mandarin films where I’m the token white guy! After studying, I’ll go play Ultimate Frisbee down by a park. It’s my favorite sport—it’s like soccer with a Frisbee. It’s seven-on-seven, and you pass the Frisbee. It gets intense. You’re sprinting and playing offense and defense, and possession changes quickly. I used to be on the UCLA team, but once I got Days I had to choose one! [Laughs] Often we play until it gets too dark outside.
“When I get home I will play some video games. Right now, I like Sky Rim. I like those epic adventure role-playing fantasy games where you can put in 200 hours and not be finished with it. You can create your own character. I spend hours tweaking his cheekbones and making sure everything looks just right to me. As a kid, I used to sit there for hours playing, but now I have other things to do. [Laughs] I then like to try to get seven to nine hours of sleep. Any less than that, I won’t be charming.” [Laughs]
In the these-are-a-few-of-my-favorite-things department, Chandler has a few choice hotspots. “I love Disneyland. I just bought an annual pass to that place. It’s the happiest place on Earth. I don’t love to go for the rides, but I love to be on Main Street!” And for that shopping getaway, Chandler says it’s Whole Foods, “or as I call it, whole paycheck! I shop on the outside of all the aisles, because you just go around and you hit the dairy and the produce, and then you miss all the cookies and the packaged stuff.”
For a bit of play action, Chandler is quite the tennis buff. “I love tennis. There are not a lot of people out here that I know that play, but the Van Patten family does. I play on their court when I can. All of the Van Pattens are great at it, and the apartment building I live in Dick Van Patten owns.” And there is a classical side to Chandler too. “There are three pianos in the back of the prop warehouse at NBC. If I do have time to rehearse with the actors I have scenes with, that comes first, but if not, I love to go play classical piano.” So with his many talents, it would seem Chandler strives for excellence. “I am a perfectionist,” he admits. “It drives you to be the best you can be in every area.”
As for his friendships, Chandler says he has built a trust with his good friend and publicist Jeff Ballard, who also started the career of a young Zac Efron. Chandler states why the relationship clicks.“Because what I say goes! [Laughs] I think it’s because we started off as friends. We can joke with each other. There is a level of honesty there that works good in business and my personal life. So it’s cool. I am lucky that I met Jeff. He has done a lot of stuff for me and I think he is the catalyst and the hitch to my wagon.”
As far as Chandler’s romantic life, it’s very different than that of Will Horton’s. He confesses what the perfect girl for him would need to possess. “She would be interested in sports or be athletic. The biggest turn-on to me is if she’s intelligent, and if I could really talk to her about topics deeper than the superficial. I don’t want her to be too attractive. I would rather have her be more on the homely side. I admit I would be a very jealous boyfriend. So if she was super hot, I would always be insecure, but if she wasn’t, I wouldn’t have to worry about it. One time I asked this girl out on a date, and we went to Hugo’s, which is one of my favorite places in L.A. It was there I found out she was a porn star. It was actually a nice date, but probably more than I could handle!"
Though that didn’t quite work out perfectly, Chandler is adamant he isn’t going to find the love of his life out clubbing either. “I will go out with friends every now and then. If I do go out and wake up the next day hung over, I will go, ‘Why did I do that? There is a sense of when I am in public that I am an employee of NBC and Days, so I need to conduct myself in a manner as to not embarrass them. But also, no one is going to meet a good girl and have a nice conversation with her in a club. You can’t see what she looks like and you can’t hear anything. That is this whole generation now, they are detached. I kind of think I don’t belong.”
And while this hottie is into girls, he’s approached by gay men, but not for what you may think. “I seem to be slow on picking up on cues like that,” Chandler related in regards to guys giving him the once-over. “But, I’ve had a lot more conversations with gay men about their experiences, and it’s been fascinating. They describe in great detail their coming out journey, and it’s a conversation starter. You know, I never really consider myself as sexy. I think growing up I was nerdy. I was spectacled in middle and high school. I think now I’m more of a geek. I would say I am an old soul, a man of few words.” [Laughs]
Since Chandler plays to perfection dramatic intensity and emotions on daytime, many would be surprised to find out this guy is actually quite funny. “I think people are surprised that I have a sense of humor, especially when I try to interject a bit of humor into my character at Days and get shot down. [Laughs] I do like to find the humor in every situation. I think it’s a good way to get through life, and to deal with difficult situations and stress. If you can laugh at yourself, that is a good thing.”
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