Will has undergone a transformation in recent months, becoming more confident since enrolling in Hollyoaks Community College, meeting new friends and joining the rugby team.
Atherton, reflecting on the change, told Digital Spy: "I really enjoyed playing the old Will, when he was more insular. It was really fun to come in, put the glasses on and get stuck behind a book, especially because it's so different from me in real life.
"But what we've tried to do with Will is show that when people go to university and settle in with a group of friends, they do relax and come out of their shell. He feels more comfortable in his own skin now, and I think that's what they've tried to show over the last six months."
Viewers see Will take centre stage on the soap next week as he organises an Enchanted Forest-themed music festival to help raise money for his homeless family. The storyline leads up to singer-songwriter Maverick Sabre's guest appearance on the Channel 4 show.
> Read our full interview with 'Hollyoaks' star James Atherton
> 'Hollyoaks': Behind the scenes at the Savage Party
Atherton added: "I think we'll maybe see a bit more of the old Will coming back after the music festival. He realises that maybe the festival was more of a Dodger thing to do, when perhaps he can find other ways of making money.
"I think we'll see him using his brain a bit more, rather than this rugby brawn that has started coming out recently."
Atherton joined the cast of Hollyoaks in March 2011.
> Read more 'Hollyoaks' spoilers and news
Photo gallery - behind the scenes at the Enchanted Forest party: