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Soaps Interview

Emmett Scanlan (Brendan Brady, 'Hollyoaks')

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Brendan Brady, played by Emmett Scanlan

© Channel 4

Hollyoaks villain Brendan Brady returns to his trouble-making ways in next week's episodes as he launches a cunning scheme to destroy Ste Hay's new relationship with Noah Baxter. Brendan puts his plan into action by joining the spa in a bid to seduce the personal trainer, who tries to put him through his paces with boxing and fitness sessions. However, it's not long before Noah starts to feel an attraction to Brendan and it seems that the bad boy has his latest target exactly where he wants him… Emmett Scanlan, who plays the village sociopath, recently chatted to Digital Spy about the latest plot twist and Brendan's future.

First of all, congratulations on your British Soap Award wins! What's your reaction to winning the prizes for 'Best Newcomer' and 'Villain Of The Year'?
"To win both a public and industry category going shoulder to shoulder with great shows and great actors who are equally deserving of the awards is slightly embarrassing, but utterly flattering. I owe a lot to Kieron and Bronagh, with whom the vast majority of my work has been with. You're only as good as the team around you and these guys make me look like I know what I'm doing. Our viewing figures are dwarfed in comparison to the big boys, so to get the nod for 'Villain Of The Year' is David and Goliath stuff. To the panel, I salute you. Getting the nod from these veterans of the industry is like getting approval from your parents, which growing up for me was few and far between - I was a nightmare... To Britain, I thank you for welcoming me into your home with open arms - duly noted, never forgotten."

We'll soon see Brendan joining the spa and spending time with Noah. What's going through his mind?
"Brendan's a very territorial animal - he doesn't like anybody else coming in on his turf. So Noah's come into Stephen's life, but in Brendan's eyes, Stephen belongs to him. The fact that Stephen would spend time with another guy and be happier isn't something that Brendan is going to accept lightly. He's a king manipulator, he likes to toy with people and so he decides to take on Noah in his own turf by joining the spa. Once he's done that, Brendan starts trying to seduce him. Brendan is trying to reclaim the prize. It doesn't matter who you are or where you are, Brendan can get you no matter what - I think that's the point that he wants to prove as a completely irrational human being!"

3088: Noah and Brendan
What was it like to film the Brendan and Noah scenes?
"It was so much fun to shoot. I've seen some of it in the edit - it gets really dark and there's some great scenes. With the boxing scenes, it almost has a Rocky and Footloose feel to it. God knows why Footloose comes into my head, but it just does - it's got that comical, camp value to it as well. It's also a seductive few episodes as Brendan is playing the game, and it's fascinating to see someone like Noah - who despises the ground that Brendan walks on - slowly but surely realising that he has feelings for him, no matter how strange they are. I think that's because of Brendan's confidence and arrogance of knowing that he's in control, as that can be quite an attractive quality in some ways. Brendan is trying to turn Noah to the dark side."

Is this all a plot to win Ste back?
"I'm not sure whether Brendan is planning to win Stephen back so they can have a normal relationship, so to speak, as I don't think there's anything normal about Brendan - it's not the way he rolls. But he sees Stephen as a person that he cares for, a person that he's killed for - and in doing so, he's shown his love for him in that way, however different or perverse his love may be. What turns Brendan on most of all is power and manipulation, so if he can't have Stephen, he's going to make sure that nobody else can have him. Whether he wants to get back with Stephen is another question altogether, but he thinks he owns Stephen and that's quite frightening due to the type of individual that he is."

There's often some debate about whether Ste and Brendan's story is a domestic violence storyline or whether it's now become a love storyline. What are your thoughts?
"It's an incredibly complex relationship and it can't be pigeon-holed. When you try to classify something as a love story or a domestic violence case, you're putting it into your own personal perceptions of how society should be and what reality is. The real reality is that there is such thing as a love story where people hit each other, so it's both those worlds combined. People can try to rationalise things that aren't politically correct, because it doesn't fit with their way of thinking, but Brendan is what he is. Look at Hannibal Lecter - people always try to psychoanalyse him to see why he kills people and what triggers it, when the fact is that he kills people because he likes to do it! People can't accept that, but the most frightening thing to accept is that it is what it is. Is it a love story? Is it a domestic violence story? It's both, in my opinion."

2942: Brendan and Ste
The domestic violence aspect of the storyline disappeared for a while but has been revisited recently. Are you glad about that?
"I think it's really important. I think sometimes in soap you can hit into a storyline but not give it time to breathe and germinate. It has a gestation period and you need to allow that to grow over the coming months. It's so easy to just forget about things and throw them under the carpet. So I think it's really important that Brendan once again lashed out, because this is who he is. At the end of the day, Brendan is a dangerously caged animal who's fighting with his demons. When he learns to dance with those demons, that's when he becomes a person to be reckoned with. I don't think we should forget who Brendan is and what he's capable of."

Mixed in with that, we do sometimes see a lighter side to Brendan…
"Yeah, Brendan's a contradiction in terms because he's also a loyal father and a loving brother. He loves Cheryl and he also loves Stephen, but in a strange way. Brendan has those human, quirky qualities that sometimes make him funny and that people can relate to, but then he'll do something left of field and people will ask, 'Why do I like this guy? What just happened?' Actually, it's more that people think, 'He does this kind of thing, and yet I still like him'. It gets people thinking about their feelings about a character as complex as Brendan, and then when you get people questioning themselves, that's when you get into dangerous, unchartered and uncomfortable territory, but it's something that hard-hitting TV needs to explore more often."

Brendan has built up such a big fanbase. Has the reaction differed from what you expected when you took on the role?
"When I went in for the audition, I realised that Brendan was a messed-up, mashed-up character and to play someone like that takes me completely out of my comfort zone. That's what turns me on as an actor and makes me hungry every time I step on set. I had no idea that it was going to take the path that it has - to be honest, I never even gave it a second thought as the viewer reaction is out of my control. I just try to go in, play the truth of the scene and push it a little bit further each time. The fact that people have related to the performance is a fantastic feeling for any actor. The people on Digital Spy have been ridiculously kind to me in ways that I don't deserve. I remember the first time I was told that there were always people talking on there about Brendan Brady and Stephen Hay's relationship, and that's fascinating for me. I hope I'm giving them what they want, because I'm sure as hell enjoying it!"

> Read more Hollyoaks chat from Emmett Scanlan in Soap Scoop Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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