The last three times Chandler Massey (“Days of Our Lives”) was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for playing Will Horton he won (2012-2014). But that was in the race for Best Younger Actor. The age cutoff for that category is 26, and Massey is now 27, so can he win again on his first nomination for Best Supporting Actor? The winners will be announced on April 29, but they’ve already been decided in the drama acting categories by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. Watch Massey’s submission above.
Will Horton was killed off of “Days” in 2015 when he was strangled to death by a serial killer, but he returned to the series in 2017 when it was revealed that he survived the attack but was left with amnesia. Susan Banks (Eileen Davidson) brainwashed him into thinking he was someone else, but he finally learned the truth, and in his first scene on the reel he is visited by his grandmother Marlena (Deidre Hall), who tries to convince him to return to his home of Salem. She reminds him of another time when he struggled with his identity: when he came out as gay.
In the next scene Will gets choked up — literally. He is being strangled by Ben (Robert Scott Wilson), the same serial killer who had nearly murdered him in the first place. But Ben can’t go through with it and stops. It turns out that Ben was enlisted by Will’s own mother Sami (Alison Sweeney) to strangle him in the hopes that it would trigger his memories to return. Will is horrified by his mother’s actions and vows never to see her again.
Will is still unable to forgive his mother in the next scene, in which he speaks with his aunt Belle (Martha Madison). But Belle reveals to him that he has made mistakes of his own: when he was married to Sonny (Freddie Smith), he cheated with Paul (Christopher Sean). That doesn’t really rise to the level of hiring a serial killer to strangle your son, but it piques Will’s curiosity, leading him to visit Paul to find out more about his past, and even about his sex life. While he was brainwashed he kept his sexuality hidden, so he doesn’t remember any experiences with men. He’s about to leave Paul’s room, but he surprises Paul with a sudden kiss.
Will Massey win Best Supporting Actor with this performance against Wally Kurth (“General Hospital”), Anthony Montgomery (“GH”), Greg Rikaart (“The Young and the Restless”) and Greg Vaughan (“Days”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
The opening scene between Will and Marlena is reminiscent of coming-out scenes that won Massey two of his Emmys in the Younger Actor category, so clearly Deidre Hall brings out the best in Massey.
The scene in which Will screams at his mother for having him violently assaulted may be the most impactful moment for any actor in this category.
Massey’s performance stands out because he doesn’t play his amnesia or brainwashing as if he has been victimized. He is defiant and often indignant when facing people he doesn’t know who insist that his real life is something he doesn’t recognize.
Amnesia also did the trick for Scott Clifton (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), who won Best Actor in 2017 for a similar amnesia-and-brainwashing storyline.
Though Massey’s performance has range, from angry to flirty to anguished, most of the scenes on the reel are subtle and understated apart from the scene of his attempted strangulation. It doesn’t give him the kinds of theatrics and monologues that his competitors get and that voters often prefer.
Clifton won Best Actor last year for scenes in which his memory finally returned. But Will still has amnesia by the end of the reel, so Massey doesn’t get the benefit of a grand emotional catharsis.
“Days” has only ever won this category once before, for Eric Martsolf in 2014. Will the series continue to struggle for recognition for its supporting men?
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