On Saturday, November 6 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT, Hallmark Channel premieres “Next Stop, Christmas,” starring soap alums Lyndsy Fonseca (ex-Colleen Carlton, “The Young and the Restless”) and Erika Slezak (ex-Viki Buchanan, “One Life to Live”), among others. The movie also marks the Hallmark Channel debut of “Days of our Lives” and “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” star Chandler Massey (Will Horton) who found the project fulfilling two of his favorite things: Christmas and the film “Back to the Future.”
In a new interview with Soap Opera Network, Massey tells us what it was like working alongside Fonseca, Slezak, and “Back to the Future” icons Lea Thompson and Christopher Lloyd. He also recaps his Halloween costume choices, his love for breakfast cereal, and how his “Beyond Salem” experience signaled a fun return to the soap world for the actor.
In “Next Stop, Christmas,” Fonseca plays Angie, a successful New York surgeon who finds herself wondering what her life would be like if she had married her former boyfriend, Tyler (Eric Freeman, “Katy Keene”), who is now a successful sportscaster. She takes a train home after work one night but instead of arriving at her apartment in Yonkers, she somehow finds herself transported to her hometown in Connecticut 10 years in the past. At first, she’s naturally disoriented by unexpected time travel but slowly acclimates. With the advice of the train’s enigmatic conductor (Lloyd), Angie does her best to navigate her visit to Christmas past, which is where we pick up with Massey and his “Next Stop” journey.
When we last spoke with the actor in early September, he was promoting “Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem” a five-episode spinoff series for the Peacock streaming service based on characters from “Days of our Lives” where the three-time Daytime Emmy Award winner portrayed fan favorite Will Horton from 2010-2013, and again from 2017-2020. He last appeared on the mothership series for two episodes earlier this year.
In “Next Stop, Christmas,” Massey plays Ben Lee, a longtime friend of Angie’s who she reconnects with when she travels on a magical Christmas train back to 2011 when things started going off the rails in her life. “She gets another chance to relive that Christmas and reconnect with her family and others,” Massey says of his character, who is part of the others group. “He was Angie’s best friend growing up and they kind of grew apart but now that she’s traveled back in time they get a chance to reconnect,” he shares.
Working with Fonseca was a great experience for Massey who says of his co-star, “It’s always so much fun when you get to be in scenes with someone who’s really, really talented, right? They kind of make you better and make you feel you’ve got to be on your game, and she definitely did that. She’s also so really sweet, a genuine person.”
As for working with Slezak, Thompson, and Lloyd, Massey revealed how it was initially scary thinking about working with the trio but it turned out to be better than he could have imagined. “It was scary because they are three legends, but are also three amazing people. I think it adds so much to the movie that they are in it and they bring their gravitas [with] all these combined years of experience acting. It was just so cool.”
For Massey, the “Back to the Future” connection for “Next Stop, Christmas” stood out the most, particularly in relation to his father’s love for the film series. “My dad was freaking out because ‘Back to the Future’ was his favorite movie growing up and he was beside himself, in a good way, that I was going to be in a movie with Lea and Christopher,” Massey recalls of his sharing the news with his dad.
Speaking of the film, it and Christmas just so happen to be the two favorite things the younger Massey enjoys most, but did you know that one of his other favorite things is breakfast cereal? “I’m a cereal connoisseur,” Massey shares. “This is going to be obscure: You take Special K, which by itself is pretty bland, and then you add this cereal that’s in a small little box called Cracklin’ Oat Bran, which by itself is too sweet and too dense. So, you combine them and you get two parts Special K, one part Cracklin’ Oat Bran, two percent milk — don’t do whole milk, and don’t do skim milk — and it will be the best bowl of cereal you’ve ever had.”
With his love of cereal, would that kind of make him a dry food chef of sorts? Is that even a thing? “When it comes to cereal, I do consider myself [a chef],” Massey says. With a laugh he notes, “It’s amazing. It’s the ‘Next Stop, Christmas’ of cereal combinations just to relate it back to the movie.”
Circling back to when he got the call about the movie, Massey recalls himself thinking, saying, “‘What?’ [laughs] I didn’t really believe it because it just came out of nowhere. It fell from the sky… a gift from the universe. It was just kind of a shock, and then it sunk in like, ‘Holy crap! This is going to be a lot of fun.’”
Although there were only three “Back to the Future” films, one might say that “Next Stop, Christmas” could turn into its own lucrative series. “I keep saying they need to turn this into a franchise,” Massey says of his outlook on the movie’s concept. He even hinted at some of the next titles, including, “Next Stop, Halloween,” “Next Stop, Easter,” “Next Stop, Veterans Day.”
As for why viewers should tune in, Massey says jokingly, “They should tune in because if they don’t, I will be harassing them for the rest of their lives. So, if they want to avoid that they need to watch.” On a serious note, he says, “I think they should just expect a really good genuine, delightful, magical story and they get to see other soap alums and legends. I think ultimately it’s going to be a really good movie and that should be reason enough, I hope.” He adds, “I think it’s going to get everybody in the holiday spirit, feeling good. I know I had warm, fuzzy feelings every day leaving the set so I hope that carries over when people are watching it.”
Interestingly, Massey is joining the Hallmark family for the first time with “Next Stop, Christmas.” The roster of the channel’s stars already encompasses several “Days of our Lives” fan favorites, including Jen Lilley (ex-Theresa Donovan), Casey Deidrick (ex-Chad DiMera), and TV mom Alison Sweeney (Sami Brady), whose Christmas movie “Open by Christmas” premieres Friday, November 12 on Hallmark Channel.
Seeing as Salem is literally raising the dead lately thanks to the return of MarDevil (Deidre Hall, playing a possessed Marlena Evans), fans are wondering what Will would be doing if he were in town now seeing as things started going off the rails once his brother, Johnny DiMera (Carson Boatman), decided to turn Will’s script into a movie. “What he’d be doing is he’d be walking around with a jug full of holy water just splashing it on everyone,” jokes Massey of his “DAYS” character. “Especially on his grandmother, Marlena, trying to get the devil out of her.”
While “Next Stop, Christmas” doesn’t have nearly as many supernatural elements in it as the daytime serial, it does have a different tone than your typical Hallmark Channel movie. “It definitely is different. I think it still has all the things that people love about Hallmark movies but it does have that sci-fi element,” teases Massey. “When I found out I was going to be working on this I went and found as many Hallmark movies as I could to watch just to see, ‘Alright, what’s the vibe? What’s the tone? What makes a Hallmark movie?’ and this one I think kind of defies that formula in the best way while also keeping the heart that Hallmark movies are known for.”
As a side note, Massey jokingly notes, “The alien battle scene is definitely different for Hallmark when the aliens come down and we have to cut them off and it turns into a post-apocalyptic kind of thing.” No, that does not happen in “Next Stop, Christmas” but wouldn’t that be cool?
While it was a great experience working with some great actors, unfortunately, Massey didn’t get to share scenes with Christopher Lloyd himself, which was a good thing for Massey in terms of not flubbing any of his lines. “Unfortunately, but also thankfully, if I had direct scenes with Christopher Lloyd inevitably [I would have] flubbed but I didn’t,” Massey states. “I got to meet him and we were on set the same days but my character [is not in scenes with him].
Being that the movie takes place 10 years in the past, Massey did have to take on a slightly different look when you look at him at a younger age versus him at an older age. “They filled out my beard a little bit which was nice but the bad part about it was I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh. This looks great! This is what would happen if I could actually grow a real beard.’ So, it sort of made me sad when I had to go back to the normal look,” Massey recalls of his hair and makeup experience during filming.
Speaking of the beard, if you’re wondering why the traditionally cleanshaven Massey changed his look for his new projects you can blame quarantine for that. “It was a quarantine thing and I just sort of kept it going, and I realized it’s pretty convenient not to have to shave every single day,” the actor says of his new look which took a life of its own when he donned drag attire in “Beyond Salem.” He does admit, however, he expected to shave it off before filming the spinoff.
“The plan was to shave and our [co-]executive producer, Albert [Alarr], was like, ‘No, keep it! I love it.’ He actually thought it was… the way it happened it was very unexpected,” Massey says, referring to Will, his husband Sonny (Zach Tinker) and their friend Chad (Billy Flynn) suddenly taking part in a drag competition on the series. “It made sense,” Massey points out. “When would Will have just brought a razor or something?” Massey questions. “I think it didn’t really make sense to the story for him to [have shaved]. Although, yeah, it probably would have matched the outfit a little bit better if I had a clean face [jokes].”
Will might have beaten Chad if he had it’s pointed out before Massey says with a laugh, “I didn’t want to upstage Chad. The story had it where he had to be the belle of the ball.”
As for when he learned he’d be wearing a dress, makeup, and women’s shoes, Massey explains, “I was just thinking, ‘Well that’s about to get checked off the list of things I’ve never done.’ It ended up being a lot of fun and we had some real-life queens brought into the show, and we got to talk with them and learn a little bit more about the community and it was fascinating.”
As one of only a few characters to appear in all five episodes of “Beyond Salem” it’s not surprising fans would love to see more, which Massey wonders if the three would make good candidates for another spinoff being that he felt the characters meshed well together and the benefitted from a great storyline. “I thought it was well written and exciting,” he says, adding, “I was glad that they let us do it.”
Although Peacock does not release streaming figures as per its policy, in line with other service providers, Massey notes, “I have heard that everyone was pleased with how it’s been received thus far.”
Check out a sneak peek of “Next Stop, Christmas” below.
“Next Stop, Christmas” airs Saturday, November 6 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel with re-airings scheduled for Sunday, November 7 at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT, Thursday, November 10 at 8:00 pm. ET/PT and Monday, November 22 at 2:00 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.