Two-time Emmy winner Chandler Massey filmed his final scenes as Days of Our Lives' gay heartthrob Will Horton on Friday, Aug. 23 — only he didn't know they were his last until he was summoned at the end of his work day to the office of Greg Meng, the soap's co-executive producer. During this meeting, Meng informed Massey, who had been planning to depart the NBC soap when his contract expired in December, that he would have to leave immediately because a replacement had already been hired. Massey exited the studio sans fanfare — no farewell party, no goodbyes, no nothing — and sources close to the young actor say he was devastated and in tears. His last episode will air on or around Dec. 31. Days has yet to announce the name of Massey's replacement, who won't begin work until after the soap returns from a two-week production hiatus in September.
Word about Massey's abrupt dismissal quickly reached controversial actor Charlie Sheen — the two share a friendship and a publicist, Jeff Ballard — and it caused Sheen to go on a Twitter rampage where he stated, in part, "hey 'Days of our Lives' producers — now your show REALLY sux!! You fired Chandler Massey?? NOW his career begins! He's a winner. Period the end. His TWO EMMYS speak to that loud and clear." (That's just the stuff we can repeat!)
Regarding Sheen's outburst, Ballard says, "Charlie was just defending a friend. He got a little carried away, but it was out of his concern and admiration for Chandler." (Sheen's Tweet has since been deleted). Meanwhile, Days has issued a statement calling Massey's exit "a mutual decision," which isn't exactly true. Yes, Massey did publicly announce his plans to quit Days in the press room at the Daytime Emmys last June, on the night of his second consecutive win. But my spies tell me the Days chiefs were blindsided by his news and that they decided to blindside him back with an early exit. Was Massey fired like Sheen claims? Technically, yes, since he will not be paid for the final 13 weeks of his contract.
In Days' defense, Massey's character — who will eventually enter into a romantic triangle — is just too crucial. If a suitable replacement has been found, why not make the switch sooner rather than later and let the fans begin their period of adjustment? And why waste money on a holding deal with the new guy? Should Massey have shared his plans with his bosses before he revealed them to the media? Absolutely. Should Days have shown Massey the door in a more tactful, kindly manner? Oh, hell, to the yes. But, hey, this is show business.
TV Guide Magazine spoke with Massey, who has had a few days to deal with the news and is clearly taking the high road. "I'm actually glad things went down the way they did," Massey tells us. "I appreciate the producers for letting me out of my deal early because I can now pursue other opportunities I couldn't under contract. And, really, I want what's best for the show and the character. I'm honored to have played Will's coming-out story, and really proud of the Will and Sonny romance. It's important that they pass the torch to another actor and continue the story."
What will he miss most? "The money!" cracks Massey, who adds that he's totally okay with not getting a goodbye party — or even a few farewell hugs. "Even if I'd left the way I thought I would, a party was never on the table. I don't like that sort of thing. I never want any fuss. But I'm going to miss everyone like crazy. I had so many incredible mentors at the show and made so many great friends."
Massey is open to more acting roles — chances he'll pop up on Sheen's Anger Management are somewhere between excellent and spectacular — but he's determined to get back to his courses at UCLA, which were put on hold when he won the Days gig in 2009. His plans include becoming fluent in Mandarin Chinese. "Back in eighth grade, I'd seen nothing but small-town Georgia when I left the U.S. for the first time and went to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China," he says. "I've been fascinated with that culture ever since and, with the way the global economy is going, it's a really important language to learn. And who knows? Maybe they'll put me in the movies over there. I can be like the token white guy. All I have to do is learn kung fu!"
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