Watch: Gay Couple Returns to Soap Spinoff... And Take a Steamy Shower

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Monday September 20, 2021

Recently the daytime soap "Days of Our Lives" tried something a little bit different: A spin-off, but a very limited one lasting just one week. "Beyond Salem" aired the week of September 6 - 10 on Peacock, where its five-episodes can be streamed.

The concept brings back many cast members from "Days of Our Lives" history, and puts them in a mystery that takes them far from the small-town Illinois locale where the daily soap takes place. The stand-alone scenario begins in 1991 in a European museum where a jewel-ladened peacock — called the Alamanian Peacock — is stolen from a museum by a mysterious woman. Cut to the present, where the peacock has been recovered, but not the stones. Some former members of the "Days of Our Lives" cast are involved in recovering them, including original cast members Lisa Rinna and Deidre Hall.

Also returning is multi-Emmy award winning actor Chandler Massey, who is the first actor ever to win a daytime Emmy for playing a gay character, Will Horton. On "Days of Our Lives," he had a relationship with Sonny Kiriakis, played by Freddie Smith; but in 2020, the characters left the soap.

But fans of the characters can catch up with them on "Beyond Salem," where they are brought back, now married, and involved in solving the mystery surrounding the Alamanian Peacock. One big difference, though: Smith's character is now being played by Zack Tinker, who is no stranger to soaps, having appeared on "The Young and Restless," for which he received an  Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Younger Actor.

The gist of their narrative, according to Decider, reads as follows: "Sonny suspects that Will, a newspaper reporter who keeps staying at the office late to report on a story he can't tell Sonny anything about, is cheating on him. Chad tries to assure him that Will isn't, and he retells the story of how his obsession with his wife cheating has nearly ruined his marriage. But they decide to trail Will anyway, and they find a surprise waiting for them at a local resort."

Is that surprise Leo Stark, played by Greg Rikaart, who puts himself right in the middle of Sonny and Will's marriage? A trending shower scene from the show has him pushing his way between Sonny and Will after they had reconciled. Perhaps this narrative will develop if "Beyond Salem" has another life.

EDGE's Steve Duffy spoke with Massey and Tinker about being part of "Beyond Salem."

EDGE: What, if anything, can you tell us about "Beyond Salem," and the role your characters play in the plot?

Chandler Massey: I can't tell you much, unfortunately.

Zach Tinker: Well, in the last episode everyone dies. [He laughs]

Chandler Massey: The general synopsis is there is a priceless statute called the Alamanian Peacock that is encrusted with multiple gems of significant value and they go missing. And, yes, Will and Sonny are part of the task force that's trying to it track down.

EDGE: Chandler, what advice do you have for Zachary, who is new to Salem?

Chandler Massey: I would say never stand in my light. I actually made that mistake once in the early days on the show. I'm not going to say with who, but they were not pleased that I blocked their light. I don't know if he needs advice. [He] came on set and just freaking killed it.

EDGE: Zachary, how does it feel to step into an already-established character like Sonny?

Zach Tinker: Luckily, I had experience with that from my time on the "Young & the Restless" when I portrayed Fenmore Baldwin. Half the battle's kind of done for you, because you got hired because you resemble the previous actor; now you just have to put the work in. I will say "Days of Our Lives" Wiki was my best friend in the beginning. In the end, I just hope to do justice for Freddie Smith and the fans.

Chandler Massey: He made Sonny his own! I feel like there's a lot of pressure when you take over a role and try to make it the same, but I feel like that's a losing gambit. Honestly, at the end of the day you've got to bring your own unique talent and style, and Zachary definitely did.

EDGE: How did you guys create the chemistry that is needed so you look like you have been together forever?

Zach Tinker: It was super easy, like weirdly easy. When we were filming, we were right in the middle of the NBA draft. So, one minute we would be talking about who got traded to the Hornets, and then we'd be making out in the shower — and when they yell cut, then we'd go back to discussing the draft. It was a very easy and smooth chemistry, and it was really easy to work with Chandler.

Chandler Massey: Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of times it takes a while to build it, but it is nice when you just have it right off the bat. I think we got lucky, and it just worked effortlessly.

EDGE: How has Will and Sonny changed since the last time we've seen them?

Chandler Massey: They haven't really. They are still the same Will and Sonny. They're living in Phoenix now and settling into married life. They nice thing is, since moving from Salem they don't have to wear so many layers. I don't want to spoil too much, but I think the fans will be happy.

EDGE: Were there any challenges filming a soap opera storyline in five days? Typically, a storyline can play out forever.

Chandler Massey: The writers really did an awesome job. They produced some good writing and good storytelling. They made it really easy for us. At least our stuff, like the dialogue was super natural and easy, and the storyline was fun.

Zach Tinker: They did a great job of moving everything along at a faster pace. The result is must-see TV! You can't skip it, or you're gonna miss a lot.

EDGE: Are you hoping that "Beyond Salem" will turn into something more than a limited series?

Chandler Massey: I hope they turn it into a theatrical production. Take us all on the road like live theatre. [He laughs]

Zach Tinker: That would be great if they did. If we get to do the things that we got to do in this limited series in something more long-term, that would be awesome. We got to do some really fun and wacky stuff. It was just such a blast to film, and I think it will be a blast to watch, too.

"Beyond Salem" is available for streaming on Peacock