he next British Soap Awards will be a family affair for you, won’t they? You join EastEnders as recovering alcoholic Jake Stone, your wife is Corrie star Kym Lomas, alias Michelle Connor, and sister Charley Webb is Emmerdale’s Debbie Dingle…
“We’ll be throwing tomatoes at each other if one of us wins! Of course we are really supportive of each other. I texted Charley yesterday to tell her how amazing in she was in Emmerdale.”
You previously starred in Brookside, Coronation Street and most famously, Hollyoaks, where you played bad boy Warren Fox from 2006 until 2011…
“It’s bizarre. I have done the rounds really, but even though I have worked pretty much solid in the last 12 years and done a lot of soap, I was actually terrified when I walked into the studios at Elstree where EastEnders is filmed. The first people I saw were Patsy Palmer and Jessie Wallace and I was like ‘Oh my God!'”
Can you reveal a bit about your character Jake Stone?
“Jake is a recovering alcoholic, a bit of a womaniser who has a dark past. He is a little bit mad and has a lot of demons. He tries to help Lauren out and be a friend to her. That is what recovering alcoholics do, they support one another – I have done a lot of research into alcoholism because I want to do the story justice.”
How does he react to Lauren?
“Jake has not got an ulterior motive when it comes to Lauren. He is trying to cheer her up, make her laugh and wind her up a little bit. Lauren clocks that Jake is wearing a wedding ring, but I think she is the one who thinks something might happen between them, not him.”
You moved to LA in 2012 in a bid to clinch a Hollywood role. How did that go?
“I was meeting some massive people. Casting directors from shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, I would get down to the last two and then they would give it to a name. It was frustrating. I came back and this came up. Jake is such an appealing character to play and EastEnders is a show which I think suits my style of acting. I did a lot of research and went in and nailed the audition. Of course, another huge plus is the fact that I get to be in the same country as my wife and kids and that’s important.”
Was it hard for Kym to juggle work at Coronation Street and looking after your daughter Polly, two, while you were away in LA?
“She is my rock. Without her I would not have been able to go to America. I fully respect what she did and what she had to sacrifice for me to be able to do that and I am forever grateful. She said to me ‘Listen, I had a dream when I was a kid, I wanted to be a pop star and I achieved that. If you’ve got a dream, you have to go for it.’ It was wonderful that she was fully behind me and it is something I will probably go back and do one day.
“It also helps that with her and my sister, we all know that soap is hard. You are working 12 hours a day for six days a week sometimes, then going home and having to learn 10 scenes for the next day. I know it’s not going out and digging roads, but it is emotionally draining and it is good to be married to somebody who understands that.”
You’re looking a lot slimmer these days. Has there been a big change?
“At Hollyoaks, you are working 12 hours a day and there is no gym there. You don’t realise it, but you are eating on the move. I got up to 15 stone and thought ‘I need to do something now’. I started boxing. While I was in America, I was going to the Wild Card gym, which is owned by a famous trainer called Freddie Roach and since I’ve been back, I’ve been training with a friend. They’ve got a gym at Elstree, so I am coming in early to train.”