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Exclusive: Emmett Scanlan talks 'In The Flesh', 'The Fall' and 'Hollyoaks'

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Emmett Scanlan

© Emmett Scanlan / Ian McManus

Emmett Scanlan



It's now been eight months since he filmed his final scenes as Hollyoaks favourite Brendan Brady, but actor Emmett Scanlan is as busy as ever with a new part on BBC Three zombie drama In The Flesh and a second series of BBC Two's The Fall on the way.

Digital Spy caught up with Emmett this week for an in-depth chat about his new projects, life after soapland and whether he'd ever be tempted to revisit the role of Brendan…

How did you become involved with In The Flesh and what attracted you to the show?
"Doing In The Flesh was a no-brainer for me, no pun intended. I was asked to come in and read for this new character that the show's writer Dominic Mitchell was developing - Simon, one of the disciples of the Undead Prophet. Dominic is a fantastic writer. His spin on the zombie genre is so unique and so layered, so you'd be a fool if it didn't excite you.

"I'm a zombie fan anyway - from James Gunn's Dawn of the Dead to The Walking Dead. In my opinion, most actors want to be in a zombie movie or a zombie series, especially since The Walking Dead - but hardly anybody would want to be the zombie. Most actors want to be in a vampire series or a vampire movie, and in that case, most actors want to be the vampire. Why? Because the vampire has a personality.

"In The Flesh gives the personality back to the zombie. Now for the first time, it's cool not only to be in a zombie series but also to be the zombie itself. That's what attracted me to the project. I owe a lot to the producer John Rushton, the director Jim O'Hanlon, David Shaw in casting, Katie McAleese, Ann Harrison Baxter, Hilary Martin and the brilliant Ben Stephenson, as they were all instrumental in me getting this job."

In The Flesh had a lot of critical acclaim earlier this year. Were you a fan when it aired?
"Honestly, I hadn't even heard of the show until my agent called me. I've been offered a lot of interesting gigs since leaving 'Oaks, none of which I felt were the right move for me. I've said before that for the longevity of any career, the next move has to be the right move.

"My agent asked me to watch the first series, and if I responded well to it, then we could move forward. It was only three episodes so three hours later, it was finished and I sat staring into space for about ten minutes.

"I thought the whole production was perfect. I knew I wanted to be part of it, and I knew I'd fight for it. It was what I'd been waiting for as it ticked all the boxes. I don't know how Dominic is going to top the first season, but so far the scripts are going in the right direction, and there's no better man to do it than that fella himself."

Luke Newberry in series two of 'In The Flesh'.

© BBC

'In The Flesh' stars Luke Newberry as lead character Kieren



Can you tell us a bit more about Simon? He's being billed as a "charismatic" character and a bit of a departure from your bad boy roles.
"Simon is in control. When he speaks, you listen. He is charismatic, but I'd like to think that's the case with all of the recent characters I've played. Although they've all been very different from each other, they've had a certain persona which means you can't turn away, and Simon is in that category.

"Simon comes from a dark past and his first life wasn't an easy one. He suffered a lot, which was self-inflicted. He was probably a troubled, educated genius - someone that might be the life and soul of a party, but alone deep inside his head. Now that he's reborn as a zombie, he's more alive than he was when he was breathing. The Undead Prophet has given him purpose.

"What's important is that Dominic doesn't write characters who are good guys and bad guys - that's too predictable and two-dimensional. He writes characters that teeter on both sides. There's a reason and purpose for every action and it is justified within that character's world. You read a scene, and there are 20 different ways to interpret it, because it's so layered. There's just so much to work with."

You started filming last week, so how it's all going? Are you pleased with the scripts for series two?
"We've only gotten the first two, after that no-one in the cast really knows the finer details of what's happening - whether we live or die, or die again. The only people who know are the powers that be, of course - but I love that. Mind you, I signed on without reading one script, such was my belief in the show. The first two scripts for my character don't require too many filming days, but it's a lovely introduction.

"More importantly the storyline thus far as a whole is great. That's what you sign up for - the story. If you've got a great story, the characters will follow. The first block is being directed by Jim O'Hanlon. He did the smash hit A Touch of Cloth. He's just brilliant to be around and so good at his job. He's helped me massively with finding Simon. We're both new to the fold so we've both got our own ideas of who he is, and we've been able to marry those opinions - I think he's great."

Emmett Scanlan

© Emmett Scanlan / Ian McManus

Emmett Scanlan



Do you think the show will appeal to your Hollyoaks fan base?
"I think the show will appeal to anyone who likes good TV. I'm already part of a great show, so all I've got to do now is remember my lines and not mess it up! I have no doubt that Brendan Brady and Charlie Casanova fans will tune in, as those guys are so loyal and I'm very, very lucky to have them."

When do you start filming The Fall's second series?
"Directly after In The Flesh. There's literally no respite, which is awesome because I'm intolerable when I'm left to my own devices! I need to be constantly working and moving. I'm in such a privileged position to be working on projects that mean something and scripts that would leave any actor salivating. With writers like Allan Cubitt and Dominic Mitchell, most of your homework is done for you, before you even step on set. That's an incredibly liberating process because then it's your job to breathe some life into it."

We enjoyed watching your character Glen Martin in The Fall. Will he be more prominent in series two?
"I was completely shocked by the reaction to the character in The Fall. I don't even think Brendan Brady had as good a reaction when he first arrived in Hollyoaks. He'll have more to do in series two, that's for sure, but honestly I'm just happy to be part of that show. There's no such thing as a small part, just a small actor. At the end of the day, I just want to help tell the story, so even if the part was less involved than last year, I would still do it. But it's not - it's even bigger."

Have you been told much about the story for series two of The Fall yet?
"I had lunch with the producer Julian Stephens, who's absolutely brilliant. Without giving anything away, it sounds fantastic. I can't wait to be reunited with that cast and crew. There's a high expectation now after the huge success of the first season, but I'm sure it's one that everyone is relishing."

We all know how popular The Fall was, but some viewers were frustrated over the 'cliffhanger' ending and the long wait between series. What did you make of that reaction?
"The frustration stems from how invested people were in the show, which is a testament to the show itself. Critically it had glowing reviews across the board and the ratings spoke for themselves. In my opinion, good things come to those who invest and great things come to those who wait. Series two will definitely be worth the wait."

'The Fall' Episode Two: DC Glen Martin (Emmett J Scanlan)

© BBC / Artists Studio/Steffan Hill

Emmett as Glen Martin in The Fall



When you left Hollyoaks, you were in talks to do another series with the show's production company Lime Pictures. Is that still happening?
"That's a strange one. It was mentioned to me but I didn't hear anything about it after I left. Maybe they just wanted to give me a line to say while I was leaving, or maybe they were planning it, I don't know. But I'm not complaining - Lime and Channel 4 were so good to me and I love them for it. If they still want to do a show together, then I'm all ears."

This will probably sound like a silly question, but do you still feel it was the right choice to leave Hollyoaks when you did?
"Yeah, it was the right thing to do. I had an incredibly fortuitous couple of years and worked with some beautiful people, but I need to keep moving as a person. I want to leave behind a box set of great characters that I'm proud of when I die. There are so many things I want to do, so many people I want to work with and so many mistakes I still have to make. I thought it was the right thing to do, not just for me but for the fans as well."

What did you make of Brendan's exit? Should he have been killed off rather than ending up in prison?
"I thought he should have died. It was so close to going that way, right up until the last minute. I did try to push for it, as in my opinion, the week didn't need the Friday episode [where Brendan was revealed to be alive after the sniper shooting]. I think we would have had a great shot for 'Best Exit' at the British Soap Awards if it had gone that way.

"It's a massive testament to the writing team and producers that even the die-hard Brady fans thought it would have been a fitting ending if the character had died. It was a story that was so strong that the story itself came first for the fans, rather than the love for the character. At the same time, I have to say that I was so privileged with everything I had, and the producers and writers at Hollyoaks were so wonderful to me, so I'd be a prick to complain. But I just did, so I am."

Do you still watch the show?
"I don't watch it, even though I said I was going to before I left. I changed my mind, as I found that once I left the job, it was hard to keep watching it - and that's a reflection on me. You can't move forward by looking back, and I needed to let that chapter of my life go. In saying that, my boy Kieron [Richardson] texted me to watch one of his episodes. I did, and I thought he was brilliant."

Kieron Richardson and Emmett J Scanlan

© ITV

Emmett and Kieron at the 2013 British Soap Awards



Would you ever be tempted to return, especially for Kieron's exit if he ever decided to leave?
"Of course I'd be tempted. Loyalty demands it. Even though I'm finished there, I don't think Brendan and Steven are. I don't think their story is. I've learned to never say never. I do love the people who make the show - those heroes behind the camera. So because of that, maybe I would come back in the future if Hollyoaks and the public want it. Maybe Brendan will come back - to be with Steven or to die, or both."

What do 'Stendan' and 'Stug' mean to you?
"A digestive biscuit and tea. Two things that shouldn't go together end up making the perfect marriage. That's Stendan. Leave that biscuit in too long, it gets soggy and limp, breaks off and ruins your tea. That's Stug. Stug to me is a wet biscuit that's ruined my f**king tea."

Are you still in regular contact with many of the cast?
"Not with anyone currently in the show, though I will rarely keep in touch with some of them. I do keep in touch with a handful of people who have left the show - people who I worked with closely. We meet up and continue to have good times together, there's no doubt about that."

What about your former housemate Joe Tracini (Dennis)?
"Joe used to be an opinionated gobsh**e. There was a lot of truth in it, and he'd tell you that himself. I liked that about him. Now he's a slut. He loves everyone and everything, which as we all know isn't possible.

"It's like when Opal Fruits changed their name to Starburst to appeal to a wider 'audience'. Regardless of how they dress it up, they're still Opal Fruits. And I'm sure deep down he's still a gobsh**e. I hope so."

How do you feel about all of the tweets you still get about Brendan?
"The fans rode that journey with me and I'm very proud of what I created in such a short time. They can get in touch with me for as long as they want and talk about Brendan, Steven and Stendan. I'll never not be moved by the impact that it's had on people."

> Read more 'In The Flesh news
> Read more 'Hollyoaks' news

In The Flesh returns for a new six-episode run next year. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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