Taking over a popular role as a recast on a soap opera has never been easy. Fans get attached to the person they see in their living rooms every day. The task is a little easier to take when the actor is someone who gives his all to the role. "Days of our Lives" had to find the right person to play Will Horton when Emmy-winner Chandler Massey left the role late last year. Enter Guy Wilson, who is making the pivotal role of Will his own.
Daytime TV Examiner caught up with the busy actor to get his thoughts on being a recast, on Will and Sonny, and how Will feels about his mother these days.
Check out the interview below:
Phyllis: Welcome to “Days of our Lives.” I know you had a while to settle in but you're still new to fans. How does it feel for you to be playing such a legacy character?
Guy Wilson: Its certainly... On the one hand, it's exciting to be a part of something that is so big. I feel a great sense of responsibility o maintain the legacy as you put it and that's really what Will is because he's part of the legacy that is the Horton Family. So for me, I certainly want to put my spin on things. But at the same time I feel like there's responsibility to honor the heritage that comes with role.
Phyllis: I know that when you play any soap opera character there has to a challenge to creating a sense of self. How do you go about trying to make Will your own but staying true to the character's history?
Guy Wilson: That's an excellent question. I would say I tried making it my own but not doing too much. In other words. not trying to act that or create things about Will. I'd rather let me just sort of shine through. Does that make sense? It's currently on my own sort of that way. I don't have to think about it in that sense, It is natural and the way that he's living. The only other way where I try to have some conscious note to the changes is in the way he physically moves. When I watched one or two of the episodes that my predecessor did, he would have Will move with the shoulders. So for me, I try to have Will lead with his chest out as opposed to leading with the shoulders out. You know - little body and posture tricks as a way to sort of make it just naturally me and then the rest just kind of followed.
Phyllis: I never thought about the physicality of this. Its pretty interesting.
Guy Wilson: Yeah and there's a lot of close ups so you don't really have to do much. You just have to have the thought and then it was just kind of naturally comes through on the face and through the eyes and then it's there. If it's too much, then it doesn't seem real.
Phyllis: I know that you had to recreate instant chemistry with Freddie (Smith) playing Sonny, with Alison (Sweeney) playing Sami and with Deidre (Hall) playing Marlena. I love Will and Marlena's relationship. Can you talk a little bit about that relationship and about working with Deidre?
Guy Wilson: Yeah absolutely. You know, so much of who Will is on the show... some of the storylines were revolved out of his relationship with Marlena. When he was dealing with coming out, she was there with him every step of the way. She's a huge part of who he is. So when I first came on the show, Deidre Hall immediately was there for me, for us to get caught up to speed on exactly how those two characters have affected one another. Deidre being the amazing and phenomenal actress that she is, it was like Disneyland from day one doing scenes with her. She's so open and easy to communicate with when it came to understanding the history of a relationship. I know all I had to do was act with her and its already made sense. She helped make it make sense.
Phyllis: Sonny and Will are super couple in the sense that they've been through so many challenges to begin with and the fans still want them together. What is ahead for you two that you can share?
Guy Wilson: I would say their dynamic. I can talk about their dynamic. Will and Sonny have an ability to communicate on a level that is pretty impressive given how relationships fair in daytime drama. There's almost sort of an intuitive nature about them approaching it, In that sense for an actor, its exciting to get to work with another actor and breathe life into two characters that are so ready. To be vulnerable with one another, in my experience...in my opinion that's a rarity in daytime drama. That's a dynamic that's going to continue to evolve through thick and thin going forward, the strong sense of nonverbal intimacy between Sonny and Will.
Phyllis: How is Will feeling about his relationship with his mother right now?
Guy Wilson: (Laughs) I feel like as Will gets older, his love for his mother grows . But with it comes a greater understanding that she's always been a bit unstable and kind of always will be a bit unstable. (Laughs) There seems to be this kind of growing sense of acceptance of “that is just how she is.” I think that's very poignant because in life, in all relationships in life you simply can't control someone. You can't change someone, you know. The best thing you can do for someone is to just accept them. I feel like Will is at a point where he is maturing and just kind of says that his mother is who she is. Sami is going to be Sami. Its much easier to have those close moments when you accept what is.
Phyllis: “Days of our Lives” has a long history of representing communities and representing characters well. Your character is openly gay. How do you feel about being a representative, I don't even know if that's the right word actually, for the Gay and Lesbian community.
Guy Wilson: Sure or an ambassador.... To me it's such an honor. The LGBT movement is something that is very important to me outside of entertainment. So now to step into a role that so vastly affects so many people and sets such an important precedent in television and in daytime drama. its an honor. It's a blessing, its a responsibility. It really makes the work that much more sacred for me to know that people aren't just watching what people are also learning and that's a privilege as an entertainer.
Phyllis: I feel like that with the characters, you don't think of them a gay couple, they are just a couple. Are there any challenges you face as a soap opera actor? The workload? The schedule? Having to memorize?
Guy Wilson: For me, and I can only speak to my personal experience, the biggest challenge is not exhaustion per se. Certainly you get tired, but keeping things fresh and spontaneous. For me, sometimes when you're tired you just do what you know works . You get to a point where its like okay. Its not bad acting but its also not as dynamic or challenging as it could be. It makes me force myself to push my mind to a different place or to try spontaneous things instead of just coasting. For me that's when I'm most aware.
Phyllis: Did you always want to be an actor? How did you first know that you wanted to be an actor?
Guy Wilson: That's a great question. I fell in love with it at a pretty at a very young age, when I was 9 years old and started doing community theater. I loved it. As far as wanting to make a profession out of it, I was about 13 or 14. Really, when I first saw Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark, ” when I saw Harrison Ford, I knew I wanted to be in movies.
Phyllis: I want to say Thank You so much for taking the time to talk to me.
Guy Wilson: It was my pleasure. Thank You.
Catch Guy Wilson as Will Horton on “Days of our Lives,” airing weekdays on NBC.
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