You know Chandler Massey as Will Horton on Days of Our Lives, where he's almost become an icon for portraying the first significant LGBT character on the long-running soap.
As every young man does, Chandler is branching out beyond the role that made him so beloved.
Tonight on Hallmark Channel, he stars with Lyndsy Fonseca in Next Stop, Christmas, a time-traveling adventure featuring Leah Thompson and Christopher Lloyd.
So I'm going to start with a couple of Days of Our Lives questions because it's a good way for our readers to connect with you and to want to tune in to the movie, and we have a huge cadre of Days fans who read. And, of course, they all loved Will.
Oh, wow. Well, all of them?
Well, you were always a topic of discussion, so I'm going to say, yeah. I'm going to say, yeah. So how has your career been affected by playing Days' first significant gay character?
Oh, well, it sort of made my career, you know? It's been, by far, my biggest and most long-running role. I think it's pretty safe to say I would not be where I am today without that.
And many fans in the LGBT community look up to you. How do you maintain that relationship with your fans?
I appreciate the question and the faith in me. I think one, the main thing is trying to do justice to the character and storyline, and two, is make myself as available as possible to the people who watch the show, the fans, for feedback and to connect with the community and just voice my support through my performance.
That makes sense. And as a straight man, you're also playing straight roles. So how have your fans traveled on that journey with you? Like outside of Days?
I think they've traveled just fine. They traveled first class with me. Honestly, I have not done anything yet where the people that I've met through Days and have watched Days haven't been there every step of the way to show me love and support. And that's more than I could have ever expected or asked for.
That proves that you've got something special that they've connected to, not just your character. It's pretty cool.
Well, thanks for saying that. I hope that's true.
I think it is. So tell me about Next Stop, Christmas. Who are you playing, and where does he fit into the story?
Well, I play Ben Lee. Next Stop, Christmas is about a woman named Angie, played by the amazing Lyndsy Fonseca, who gets on a magical time-traveling Christmas train and goes back to Christmas, past, a Christmas back in 2011, where everything started going wrong for her and her family. And she gets another chance to go back and make things right.
My character, like I said, Ben Lee is one of her best friends growing up, a small-town guy, and I think there was something there between them. Nothing came from it, but he gets a chance to reconnect with her when she's back in the future.
So what's it like playing in two timelines? Is it fun, or was he not part of the future timeline?
No, it's great. Yeah. I got to be in a little bit in both timelines. It meant I got beard augmentation for the older Ben. Well, I still have yet to be able to grow a full non-patchy beard, so I needed a little help from the makeup department in that arena, which made me look like a real man instead of a man child. So it was a lot of fun.
That's funny. And of course, this is Leah Thompson and Christopher Lloyd. So there had to be references to Back to the Future. What was the feeling on set with all of you together and doing a time travel movie, of all things?
It was freaking awesome. My dad's favorite movie is Back to the Future. So when he heard that, like Christopher Lloyd and Leah Thompson were in the movie, he was more excited than when he heard I was going to be in the movie. I can't blame him. And it was just so cool. It was surreal.
I mean, they're legends. So to be able to work on the same project with them was a dream come true. Could we expect any Easter eggs or anything fun like that for Back to the Future? Yes, I think you can. I don't want to spoil anything, but the fun of the Easter eggs is finding them.
Yep. Good. And then people can be on the lookout.
Yes, they can.
And so, this is your first taste of the Hallmark world. It's a pretty good group to be associated with on your first movie, right?
Yeah. Great group, actually. Yeah, the first time in the Hallmark world, and I got to say, I loved it. It's so different. On the soap, there's so much drama and suffering, and absurdity.
And you sort of go home, and you're just stressed. You're emotionally just drained and exhausted. But I left each day of Next Stop, Christmas kind of feeling warm and fuzzy inside. So it was nice. It was nice.
So did you go home and make Christmas cookies and things?
Well, I was staying in a hotel. I didn't have a kitchen. I couldn't make anything, but if I did have one, I, for sure, would've made some holiday things, treats. I was definitely humming and singing some classic Christmas songs and carols that whole period.
Do you sing in the movie by any chance? Do you go caroling or anything like that?
No, I don't. No.
What? How can that not have caroling?
I mean, they have singing, but the character Ben's not included. He's the quiet type.
So do you think you'll be back and work with Hallmark again?
Yeah. If they'll have me, 1000%. Yeah. It was an amazing, amazing experience.
And what was your favorite thing about working on this movie?
Hmm, that's a good question. Probably just the energy that everyone had, from the cast and the crew, just really infectious. And it was just so much fun. It's hard to narrow down one. I mean, Dustin, who directed it, really was so phenomenal and let us play with each scene.
Having more than one take was a nice change of pace. So I get to be able to try different ways. But it had to have been that just energy. Everyone was excited, and it made me excited.
And since this is a Christmas film, what's your favorite holiday movie? Do you have something you like to watch every year?
Yes. Favorite holiday movie. It's got to be Elf.
Perfect. That's a good one. What's your favorite scene from Elf?
Well, there's so many, but the shower scene, where they're just [laughs].
That one always cracks me up.
They sound so good. It's actually a really decent rendition. She's an amazing singer.
Oh, yeah. Zooey Deschanel. She's great. And then so that was great because they're actually enjoying the song, and then she realized that there shouldn't be another voice joining her.
And what are you most looking forward to this Christmas season?
Just being with my family. I live in Atlanta now, so I get to spend the whole Christmas holiday with them rather than just a couple days, a day or two.
That's very nice. And finally, how would you describe Next Stop, Christmas in three words?
Fun, magical, and scandalous. [laughs] No. Okay, no, scratch that. Not that, but fun, natural, and heartwarming.
Don't forget to tune into Next Stop, Christmas tonight at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.