By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com February 13 2014 7:30 AM ET
Passion, romance, and drama, seasoned with a dash of danger, are the key ingredients of any successful soap opera. For nearly 50 years Days of Our Lives has been serving that beloved recipe with a signature spicy twist. Shortly after making its debut in 1965, the series gained a reputation and loyal fan base for daring to tackle topics other soap operas avoided, such as interracial relationships and artificial insemination. It’s a tradition that continues today with one of the show’s current storylines featuring the same-sex romance between Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis, and on Friday, the show’s gay power couple will sail the series into uncharted territory once again with a Valentine’s Day marriage proposal — and the answer fans have been waiting to hear.
Will and Sonny are played by Guy Wilson and Freddie Smith, and the couple’s official engagement is the first of its kind for Days. The next step in the romance of Will and Sonny — affectionately referred to as WilSon by fans — is a development the two actors say they are excited to bring to the small screen. “I’ve been waiting for this since the day I signed on,” says Smith, whose character Sonny immediately became a fan favorite after making his first appearance on the popular soap opera in 2011. “Of course, Will said no when Sonny popped the question last month because it’s a soap and it has to be dramatic. But when I found out they were finally getting engaged, I was thrilled. Will and Sonny have been a power couple for two years now, and in the town of Salem, people don’t usually stay together that long, so they’re doing something right. It’s definitely time.”
Wilson, who stepped into the role of Will Horton in January after actor Chandler Massey departed the series, describes the opportunity to participate in the story at a crucial point in its development as “a dream come true.”
“I truly feel blessed to be able to come onto this show and immediately have the opportunity to take part in something that is so important, not just in the context of the show, but on a wider scale,” he says, “I’m thankful we’re creating something that resonates with people and makes a positive impact.”
While some may overlook the show’s attempt to further LGBT visibility on TV, Smith has seen the difference Will and Sonny’s story has made in the lives of many viewers. “I’ve gotten so many letters over the years from people in their teens to their 60s who were struggling with their sexuality and said seeing gay characters on our show helped them be more comfortable with who they are,” he says. “In fact, one of those letters that touched me the most was from a young man who told me he was able to come out to his grandmother by saying, ‘Grandma, I want you to know that I’m just like Sonny.’ That really tugged at my heart because without this storyline he may have continued to keep his feelings to himself, but he was able to be comfortable enough to be honest instead. That’s why I’m so happy Days is showing this, because it’s part of life and people need to see themselves reflected on TV.”
While both actors say the response to their characters’ inclusion on Days has mostly been positive, they also admit they’ve each had a taste of the homophobic hatred LGBT people experience since stepping into the roles. “No one has approached me on the street or anything, but I’ve gotten hateful antigay messages though social media and it makes me sad,” says Wilson. “Not because someone is being mean to me, but because there are some people out there who still have such vitriol for this kind of story. That’s part of why I try on a daily basis to be an example through my acting that love is love. I’ve been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and when I hear things like that it only makes me appreciate the work that’s being done in the battle for equality that much more.”
“Like Macklemore says, behind the keys of the message board people are doing it,” adds Smith. “But I could never compare what I’ve experienced as a straight actor playing a gay part to what the LGBT community deals with. From the small sliver I’ve seen, my hat goes off to the LGBT community for showing such strength and courage all these years.”
Though Days is not the first soap opera to showcase same-sex romance, the show has broken new ground by depicting intimate moments between Will and Sonny in the same way as their straight counterparts. “It blows my mind that there’s still resistance to seeing gay characters be affectionate with each other on television,” says Smith. “I don’t get it. I’m happy that we’re able to show intimacy. That was one of the things we set out to do when we began this story, to show passion and intimacy and make it as authentic as possible — and I think we are. We’re rolling around in the sheets a lot lately. For me, being able to show the full spectrum of Will and Sonny’s relationship has been so rewarding.”
“Jumping into the story where I did really hit home that we aren’t just playing a couple of gay characters on a TV show, we’re blazing a trail,” Wilson adds. “We’re showcasing positive role models in a happy, healthy relationship.”
With Salem’s same-sex power couple making the ultimate “be mine” declaration on Valentine’s Day, wedding bells may be ringing in the near future for Will and Sonny. But while the two actors wouldn’t reveal any hints about a potential walk down the aisle, they were both in agreement about which character would be the bridezilla in the relationship. “It would definitely be Will,” says Wilson. “He’s very passionate about everything he does. So when it comes to planning a wedding I feel like he’d be a little more likely to make a fuss.”
Nevertheless, Wilson hopes the engagement is only the beginning of big changes for the two characters and says he can imagine the two men becoming even bigger players in the soap opera’s dramatic storyline. “I know this may be just pure fantasy, but I think it would be fun if Will and Sonny really rose to a powerful position in Salem and started taking things over like The Godfather.”
“See, from a wedding to the Mafia,” Smith jokes. “That’s the bridezilla stepping up right there.”
Days of Our Lives airs weekdays on NBC. Watch an exclusive clip from the Valentine's Day episode in the video below.