The actor’s character has had to deal with the aftermath of the death of his son
Coronation Street actor Richard Hawley has said he was initially “frightened” when he first learned he would be involved in the soap’s male suicide storyline.
Richard’s character, Johnny Connor, has recently had to cope with the death of his son, Aidan Connor (Shayne Ward), who took his own life in part of the programme’s drive to raise awareness of mental health issues and male suicide.
In recent episodes, Johnny has been involved in an emotional custody battle with Eva Price (Catherine Tyldesley) over her baby daughter with Aidan.
Of first seeing the storyline, Richard told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Honestly, at first I think I was quite frightened.
“I was very pleased because it’s something that’s close to my heart – to get the opportunity to do something that has a campaigning element on Coronation Street, it is a wonderful opportunity and part of its history, really.
“But my first response is ‘I don’t think I can do that’ – almost always I go into a place of fear.
“The intention of this story is to make a difference in the real world, to sort of jump through the TV screens from our fiction, and for people to recognise it is something that’s actually going on.”
He added: “So we knew we had to create moments that had that kind of power, which was just a little bit beyond the fiction that we normally watch, and somehow could punch out and affect people and make a real change, or initiate a real change.”
The actor, who has appeared in Coronation Street since 2015, also said it has been an “intense period” of working on the soap.
“In many ways I try to keep my life as stable and as normal as possible,” he said.
“I come to work – I actually live in Brighton, a long way away – but I’m up here all week, and I’ve been up here for months, I haven’t been home for months,” he added, referring to working in Manchester.