Interview

ICYMI: Chandler Massey Interview

Chandler

Credit: NBC

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Why DAYS’s Chandler Massey (Will) is living his best life

“It’s been just as, if not more enjoyable than the first time,” declares Chandler Massey of his second time around in Salem. The actor, who returned to the show as Will in 2017 after a three-year break, appreciates that his alter ego has done some growing up since he first joined the show nine years ago. “It’s interesting to play because Will is a man now rather than Will as a youth. The first time I was around, Ali [Sweeney, ex-Sami] and Bryan [R. Dattilo, Lucas] were on the show then and it was nice to have the parental relationship, but now Will’s sort of a little bit more on his own. And he is a parent now. It’s a new dynamic and it’s fun to explore.”

His most recent tale — where Will was dying of a brain tumor — gave the actor pause. “Let’s just say I was very happy that he made a miraculous recovery,” Massey chuckles. “There was a moment there I was like, ‘Ah!’ You never know. I actually really enjoyed that story because it’s something I hadn’t played before and something that was sort of a struggle because I have been fortunate in my life to not really have any significant health or medical scares. I couldn’t pull from personal experiences; I had to do some imaginative work and substitution, and try and stay true to that feeling.”

Massey appreciates the way Head Writer Ron Carlivati has kept the Sonny/Will romance going. “They’re each other’s soul mates. Sonny is Will’s strongest pillar of support,” he notes. “I’m really pleased with what Ron’s done. I’m grateful for him writing the proposal and them getting married again. I think it’s very fitting and very cute.” The actor wouldn’t mind having a little honeymoon period for them, either. “It would be nice for Will and Sonny to have some uninterrupted happy time. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen because that’s just not how Salem works. But just some time to take a breath from all the obstacles they overcame together and to really be present with each other, at least for a day or so!”

Off camera, Massey has sought out his own happy times. “This year I’ve been really trying to get out and have some new experiences,” he explains. “I went to Japan recently. Over this next break, I’m going to Iceland with my brother, Christian. We are going to rent a camper van and just drive it around Iceland for a week plus. I’m really excited for that bonding trip and what’s going to be beautiful scenery. I’m starting to take on very active hobbies, whether it’s rock climbing or basketball. I like sports and I like competitive activities in which I can beat someone else.”

Those aren’t the only changes Massey has made in the past year. In late May, the actor shared a very personal post on Instagram, chronicling his recent weight-loss journey. In it, he revealed he had lost 30 pounds, and opened up about his emotional relationship with food. “I’d come close to posting something like that for maybe over a month prior,” he begins. “I just didn’t know if it would be inappropriate, or if it would just be something that anyone would give a crap about, to be honest. It’s a journey that I started and stopped a bunch of times.”

It was his 2017 return that got the wheels in motion. “When I got back on DAYS, everyone is so freaking fit around here, and I personally wanted to get back in shape,” he says. “When Christopher Sean [ex-Paul] left [in 2018], I felt like he was the ‘hot’ one, and Freddie [Smith, Sonny] and I were the guys with good personalities. I felt like I sort of had a responsibility to pick up the mantle. Soaps are about powerful storytelling and family values, but it’s also undeniably an aspect that soaps feature romance and sensuality. I just wanted fans of Will and Sonny, especially gay fans of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, to be able to have in Will and Sonny what they have and what every other relationship on DAYS has. ”

Finding the right program — and sticking with it — was a challenge in and of itself, Massey reports. “I was looking for quick fixes for a long time,” he recalls. “I think I have a personality that tends to be attracted to extremes. I would try various methods of losing weight really quickly, just really restricted diets or crazy exercise regimens, and none of them were sustainable. I would break from that, and I’d go to Ralphs [supermarket] and I would go nuts. One of the things I would do is buy a family-size box of Famous Amos and then put in like a gallon of milk and eat that like cereal. It’s actually sort of better than eating Cookie Crisp, ’cause you’re eating real cookies. It’s just quite indulgent, but also very unhealthy. I think the process was learning to find something that was sustainable for me, something that wasn’t a quick fix. Just making small improvements.”

And also identifying why he was turning to food for comfort. “I feel like if I got too high or too low, those would be trigger states that would lead me to, ‘I’m gonna go out and celebrate and eat 10,000 calories!’ Or if I was feeling depressed, I would use something sweet as sort of a Band-Aid to make me forget about it and make me feel good for a moment, only to leave me feeling worse afterward,” he relays. “I had not fixed the problem. It was a learning process to be conscious and acknowledge the emotional states and address the root cause of them, rather than just patch them up with food. And then find physical activities that I actually enjoy doing. There’s a gym near my house called Spry Society, where I met an incredible group of people that encouraged me and were pillars of support. So it was that combination of finding exercise that I truly enjoyed and felt good about doing before and after, and then also finding a more sustainable way to eat while still maintaining some sort of calorie deficit.”

Massey says when he felt the time was right, he put a great deal of thought into what to put on social media, and wasn’t sure how his post would be received. “I figured that if I was going to make some sort of before and after post, or some sort of fitness/diet post, I had to be as honest about the process as possible; otherwise, it would just be a thirst trap, basically,” he says. “The stuff that didn’t really paint me in the best light would probably be useful information that other people could relate to, so that’s I guess why I was forthcoming.” The reaction he got from fans was overwhelmingly positive. “I was kind of shocked,” he allows. “I think by far that was the highest engagement of any post I’ve ever had. I’ve read through all of the comments and a lot of them are people saying they relate or are words of encouragement. I guess I was a little blown away by the response. I absolutely was not expecting that to that degree.”

His castmates were equally supportive. “They were all really nice. I even got a compliment from Paul [Telfer, Xander], who is, like, the Scottish Tarzan. It really meant a lot coming from him because he’s as in shape as you could possibly get. It made me feel grateful and proud.”

And when Massey sees shirtless scenes in the script, “I’m excited about it,” he enthuses. “I think it’s an opportunity to show the work that I’ve done. But yet two years ago, I would’ve dreaded it. I would’ve been like, ‘Oh, my God, could I get a tank top or something? An undershirt?’ But it’s a good feeling to know that I can do whatever they ask of me. And on a soap, what they ask sometimes includes showing some skin. It’s a good feeling to not have to be nervous about that.”

With his diet and exercise plan in place, and a desire to try new things, “I think I’m in an especially good place,” Massey reflects. “I feel like I have a great work/life balance. I finally finished school, so I can check that off the list. I think I’m at a place where I have the maturity to start exploring the world around me. I still feel challenged by the work and feel that it is fulfilling work, and it still is every day.”

 

JUST THE FACTS 

Birthday: September 10

Hails From: Atlanta, GA

Where There’s A Will: Massey first played Will from 2010-14, then returned in 2017.

Trophy Case: Massey has been nominated for a Daytime Emmy five times and has won three.

Watch It: “I am watching BARRY on HBO. I just finished the second season. It is just hilarious and so well-written and directed.”

At The Movies: “I actually saw [Pokemon] Detective Pikachu in theaters and I really enjoyed it. I dragged my roommate Scott to go see it with me.”

To A Degree: To finish college, Massey took two courses. “I had an aliens, psychics and ghosts class, which satisfied my Writing II requirement. I also had a money and banking class, which was very dry. It was a nice combination of math and facts.”

Thirtysomething: “I want to go to 30 different cities before I’m 30 [in 2020]. I’m on pace for that, which is great. I’ve still got a couple more cities to explore. I also want to do some sort of grad school in the future.”

Snack Time: “I really like pickles. Pickles are very low-calorie and I’ll just munch on some dill pickles.”

Follow Me: On Instagram, he’s therealcmassey; on Twitter,
@ChandlerMassey.

 

Big In Japan

Massey recently traveled solo to Asia. “Japan was one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” he raves. “I planned the whole trip around food. I love Japanese food. I had a list of restaurants I wanted to eat at, different dishes I wanted to try, and then I tried to soak in some culture and history in between meals. The food there was just so incredible. My favorite part was going to the fish market early in the morning in Tokyo. They bring the fish in for the day, and different representatives of different seafood restaurants will go in and you can watch them go through the fish and pick out the ones that they think are the best quality. It’s like an art form how they’re able to identify which fish would give the most delicious and freshest meat, and it was really very interesting to me. And then right next to the fish market you could go and have some of the freshest seafood or sushi you could possibly get.”

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