Just when it seemed that Ste (Kieron Richardson) was about to commit to a future in New York with husband Doug Carter, he finally came to terms with what he really wanted and headed over to Dublin to get back with Brendan.
To hear what the future might hold for the couple, Digital Spy recently caught up with Emmett Scanlan - who plays Brendan - for his first full interview about the 'Stendan' reunion and the next big challenge for his character.
Are you pleased that Brendan and Ste have finally reunited?
"I think it was needed, as there hadn't been any closure in the relationship. The public and the 'Stendan' fans out there had been waiting for it, and this company listens to its public and its audience. We had no idea when this adventure started that it would become such a cult relationship.
"There was a lot of unfinished business between Brendan and Steven - a lot of anger and a lot of unresolved issues. They've been loving each other from a distance.
"In order to be able to live with Steven, Brendan needed to be able to live with himself. He wasn't able to do that for a long time, so I think it was important for this to come along and for us to take the storyline full circle. Now we can hopefully see what it'd be like for these two characters to live together in complete acceptance of each other and who they are."
How did you feel about filming the episodes in Dublin?
"Well, I know that the reunion was a long time in the planning, and when I found out that the episodes would be in Dublin, it was extraordinarily exciting for me. To be able to go off set and on location to my home country and home city was great. It was an honour to be able to take Kieron and James [Sutton] there along with the crew and the director. Then when I was watching the episodes, to see those aerial shots of my city was a very proud moment.
"I really hope we did it justice and that we paid the fans back for their unflinching loyalty. The fans stood by the couple through anything, regardless of any shortcomings of the characters. Myself and Kieron had a great time filming it and we had quite a few laughs.
"It was definitely needed, because there had been too many questions left unanswered with these guys. If one character was to eventually leave and there had been no answers with the Brendan and Steven relationship, I think that would have been awfully frustrating. I know it would have been for me, anyway. I need to explore these different avenues with my character."
Did you have any free time in Dublin or was the filming schedule too busy?
"What I did do was organise a club for everyone on the last night with a free bar. But filming in Dublin was also an opportunity to get home and have my daughter Kayla with me. She stayed with me for the whole four days that we were filming and was helping out behind the scenes, working on continuity and was even calling 'action' on a couple of takes!
"Kayla really got involved and everyone was so, so beautiful to her. She's a wonderful girl and everyone made her feel welcome. I think she was even a passing extra in one of the scenes.
"So my time in Dublin wasn't just to spur on the Brendan and Steven storyline and bring it to a new realm of excitement - it was also a chance to touch base with my family. I don't get enough days like that, so I latched onto that and grabbed it with both hands."
There's been a big change in Brendan this year. What would you say was the turning point to bring about that change?
"The main turning point was he realised that he wasn't infallible and invincible after all. He realised that he cared so much for Steven, even if that meant letting him go. He also cared so much for his sister, even if that meant going to counselling.
"When Brendan lost his family, his sister and his lover, he was left on his own with an empire of dirt and he realised certain things weren't so important - he wasn't happy and he needed to make a change. The life-or-death drama with Walker was another factor that helped him to turn around and be the man he always wanted to be.
"You think Brendan is going to get there now, you really do - and that's what I like about Brendan, there's always hope. But the devil himself has yet to appear in the form of Papa Brady…"
Can Brendan and Ste have a normal and happy relationship?
"Brendan is going to try to be the boyfriend he could never be to Steven, and he's not going to shy away. He's not going to hold hands and walk down the street, but he's not going to hide away either. If that means looking after Steven and being a father to Leah and Lucas, then it's something that Brendan can do. He was a terrible husband, but he tries to be a good dad.
"Brendan has got heart and I think that is what's important for any likeable villain - they need heart, vulnerability and to be flawed. There needs to be hope, too. I think there is hope for Brendan and we're only going to find out in the upcoming months whether it's all going to be in vain or not."
Are you enjoying working with the two child actors who play Leah and Lucas?
"Yeah, as a father myself, I do like working with kids. The kids are fine and they're great little actors. You've got Ella-May and Reuben playing Leah and Lucas, and the two of them just watch and drink up everything that's happening so the reaction is pure. It's a great gift to have at that age - Drew Barrymore had that aged 6 on ET and she stole the show.
"It can be frustrating at times for me because I'm in such high intensity scenes, and then cut to the next scene and I could be making a bug motel with Leah! It's difficult to go back and forth in that way, but that's the life of Brendan, really."
Brendan's traumatic history with his father is very dark territory. Is it tricky to do it justice at 6.30pm?
"I think we can do it justice. Let's make no mistake, we've done so much dark stuff anyway with the domestic abuse, the Danny Houston murder, and many more storylines. A lot of it has been implied rather than being shown because it's a 6.30 show, so you have to use your imagination. Will they be able to do it justice? Well, Hollyoaks have been doing it justice for 17 years, so I'm sure they will.
"The guy who plays my dad, Fintan McKeown, it's like we've known each other for all of our lives. We're bouncing off each other like osmosis and taking on each other's characteristics on a subconscious level without even knowing it. When Brendan, Cheryl, Seamus and even Steven are on set doing a scene, it's very awkward and tense. There's a strange weirdness about it.
"The character of Seamus Brady has been a huge character in Hollyoaks for the last two and a half years, and he's never once stepped into the village. He's always been on the periphery, but now you've got a face to the name and all that history to draw on, so you put all these guys into a scene and it gets dark."
Is Brendan still scared of his father?
"Absolutely - it goes without saying. When you have a circus elephant and you tie the rope around this little baby elephant's leg, he can't break the rope and he can't get away. He grows up to be a massive elephant and he could easily walk away and snap that rope in two, but he's conditioned into thinking that he can't break it, so he can't even try. It's that kind of analogy.
"Brendan is still the 8-year-old child who was raped by his father. He can take his dad in a fight possibly - but psychologically, forget about it. This man has owned Brendan and made him the man that he is - the identity that he's trying to get rid of right now. Brendan tries to stand up to him, but he falls back down. How do you get out of something like that? I don't know. His father sure as hell hasn't changed."
Will there be more scenes between Brendan and John Paul when they're back in the village together?
"I was talking to James and he said there's a couple of scenes coming up, which is good because we get on really well. We both have very different techniques with how we go about a scene, but I think they complement each other.
"James plays John Paul flawlessly. I joke that he does it 'awesomely averagely', but he's very good and he's been doing this for years - longer than I have.
"It was a good craic to be able to sit down at a table in a pub and do some scenes with him in Dublin, knowing that he was previously a big character in the show. To slap John Paul and Brendan in the same scene, let alone the same bed, I think is a stroke of genius. We had a lot of fun doing it and I'm sure we'll be dancing on set again."
A lot of fans think Brendan and Walker have unfinished business. Would you like to work with Neil Newbon again?
"Yeah, I'd like to work with him again. The Brendan and Walker storyline ended abruptly and it's not finished, not by any stretch of the imagination."
We met Brendan's youngest son Paddy for the first time this week. Would you like to see the full family come over for a visit to the village?
"Oh, of course - it brings out a different side to Brendan. But does that work with the storyline that we're doing? At the moment, they don't want anything to do with Brendan, and rightly so because he hasn't been there and he hasn't been the dad that he can be. As people and actors, they're fine company. But it's up to the scriptwriters - they'll know what to do with that."
If Brendan does eventually leave the village, would you want him to be killed off or get a happy ending?
"If I was going to go, I'd want to go out with a bang. I would like it to be epic - as would any actor who has a massive loyalty to his character.
"I absolutely don't want him to leave in a taxi - I won't shoot that scene. If you write me a taxi scene, I'm not shooting it! You have to give justice to the character and the fans who've invested two and a half years of their lives into watching this twitchy fruitcake. God bless them for being so understanding - I really appreciate it."
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