When Bryan Dattilo returned to NBC's Days of Our Lives in early 2012 after a two-year hiatus, his character of Lucas Horton had a lot to adjust to including the fact that his son, Will, is gay.
'I was a little worried about how they were going to handle Lucas's reaction,' the actor admits to Gay Star News. 'I didn't want it to be typical dad denying, not understanding.'
But Lucas, who had been wondering about his son after seeing him in a friendly clinch with his openly gay friend Sonny, did not judge and let Will (played by Emmy nominee Chandler Massey) know that he was there for him no matter what.
'The fact that they wrote him so loving and so supportive is such a relief to me because that's just how it would be in real life if my son ever came to me and said this is the way he felt,' Dattilo says. 'Some of the things that are said on screen about it is honestly how I feel so as an actor it's very easy to make it genuine and make it believable.'
'It's really cool to be a part of [the storyline] and being the one who's so understanding as opposed to Will's mother who walked out of the room and left me to handle it,' he adds. 'I think that Lucas only sees his son. He doesn't see someone who is telling him about his sexuality. Lucas is more concerned about how other people are going to treat him and what he might have to go through. It puts Lucas in a very protective situation with him.'
Datillo, who first joined the soap in 1993, and relative newcomer Massey quickly developed a strong chemistry in their father-son scenes despite the fact that they had only worked together briefly a few years ago before Datillo was written off the show for awhile.
'It's been amazing,' he says of Massey's acclaimed portrayal of Will. 'He's always prepared, he's always good, he's always ready for something spontaneous to happen. When I found I was coming back, I started watching the show again and I would see him just blowing up scene after scene and I was like, 'When I go back, I better have my teeth sharp for this kid. This kid's ready to act!'
'When I first got there, we started running lines in my dressing room and I just felt like we had this understanding with each other. He's a really good listener and I try and listen when I act so I think that we interact with each other really well.'
Will's coming out has taken a temporary backseat to a more pressing matter in recent days: he's been arrested for murder! Will is among the many Salem residents whose fingerprints were found on the gun that killed resident villain Stefano DiMera. On the episode that aired Monday (11 June), Will's fingers tested positive for gunshot residue and he was placed under arrest by his own grandfather, the town's top lawman.
It is a soap opera, after all.
But Will's involvement in the murder plot should not be taken as a sign that the young man is being written off the show because of any kind of cold feet about the gay storyline. (Two years ago, ABC's now-canceled One Life to Live wrote off its three main gay characters without explanation).
Of Days tackling a gay storyline, Dattilo says: 'There's no show that is better equipped to tackle the topic. Days has always prided itself on its family relationship driven storylines and this is just modern family stuff now. It's long overdue for it to be accepted as a family issue, not just two people having this thing and being secretive.'
(Below is video of Lucas and Will having a father-son talk about Will being gay)