When Matt Di Angelo discovered that his EastEnders character Dean Wicks was to rape the hugely popular Linda Carter, he prepared himself for the worst. A torrent of abuse both on Twitter and in public is only to be expected when you’re Walford current vile villain…
What kind of reaction did you get about the rape storyline?
“I was surprised to get such positive comments. And believe me, people think they can tell you anything when you are an actor. I would never go up to an electrician and say, ‘You want to be using a 30 amp there mate, you’re not doing it right’ yet people think they can come up and critique my career. It can be a bit random, but it is nice to be appreciated.”
Now that the dust has settled, Dean seems to be relaxing back to life on the Square. How are you enjoying the lighter storylines?
“Dean really needs normality in his life. There is a genuine connection there with Roxy and he is kind of taking Ronnie’s interference with a pinch of salt. He knows she is a bit strange, so he tries to keep her at arm’s length.
“It’s great for me as things have calmed down a bit. I have even managed to book myself a holiday for a few weeks’ time. I enjoy working alongside Rita Simons who plays Roxy. We’ve got a lot in common and she is a good laugh. I have had a lot of fun here since I came back.”
Did you expect to have so much fun?
“I said I would come back for a year, but I wasn’t sure how I would feel after 12 minutes let alone 12 months. I didn’t know if I was going to hate it. Or perhaps I wouldn’t be able to handle the pace. I have spent the last six years doing some nice dramas where we had plenty of time to do the work.
“It turns out that I have had a really good time. It has been nice to have steady work from a financial point of view because it is tough when you are out there and not working. The experience has been so good, I decided to extend my contract for another 12 months.”
How do you find managing the demanding life of Eastenders?
“You do 13-14 hour days, but then you have to go home and learn your lines. You then realise that you’d better get to bed as you are back in five hours’ time. But I knew that was part of the job and you just have to suck it up.
“It does take over your life and you are constantly tired, but that is what you are being paid to do. The one thing I do is prepare proper meals at home as I don’t want to be eating rubbish or nothing at all.”
How do you unwind after a busy day?
“I go home, have a cheeky gin and tonic and put on Don’t Tell The Bride or Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. Any really awful trashy TV where there is a special layer of hell! It’s trashy TV that makes me feel great.”
Do you think Dean will get away with his crime?
“I think that will happen,. I think it is perfectly believable that he got off because there was no evidence, but when you watch a soap, you do want to see the villain lose.
“Although, when Dean stands at the bar in the Queen Vic, he could very well be standing next to two murderers, people who are having affairs, others who are burying bodies… There are murderers walking around the Square, but for some reason, it seems worse to have a rapist on the loose.
“It is weird how our brains become numb to certain things. I can watch Arnold Schwarzenneger shoot 20 people in a film and not bat an eyelid, but if I see a dog get run over on TV, I will be in bits. I will start crying. I think what makes Dean’s rape so shocking is that it was unexpected. People forget that in the same episode, Shirley was walking around with a handgun and ended up putting a couple of caps into Phil Mitchell.
“Put it this way, Dean is now the baddie of the show, so whatever happens from now on, it isn’t going to be good.”
What does the future have in store for you?
“I don’t know. I am enjoying it here at the moment, but there are also other things that I want to do. I am young and there are other roles and shows I would like to do.
“I also get a bit lazy working in soap as you are doing it so quickly, you don’t have the chance to put as much into your performance as you would say, in the theatre.
“I am not sure what is ahead for me, I am just cracking on, keeping my head down and enjoying the fact that we are doing some good work here.”