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Jake Wood (Max Branning, 'EastEnders')

By
Max Branning

© BBC Pictures

EastEnders' Max Branning finally comes face to face with his daughter-in-law Stacey for the first time since her killer confession during Friday evening's two-hander episode. Following Bradley's tragic demise in the BBC soap's live anniversary instalment last month, Stacey made the shocking revelation to Max - played by 37-year-old Jake Wood - that she was the one responsible for killing Archie on Christmas Day. The pair, however, haven't spoken since the day she and Max visited Bradley's body in the mortuary. Desperate for answers and determined to avenge his son's death, Max tracks Stacey down to a grotty bedsit where a dramatic confrontation ensues. Earlier this week, Digital Spy gave Jake a call to find out more about the two-hander. How long did it take to film? How different was it to a normal ep? And are there any shock reveals? Jake tells all...

When did you first hear about the two-hander?
"[Producer] Diederick [Santer] had mentioned that there was a two-hander coming up, but because of the live episode, they didn't want to reveal anything about it. Max and Stacey are going over the events of Archie's murder and Bradley's death, so they couldn't release the script until after the live. We always knew that there'd be a special episode, but we were led to believe that it was a two-hander plus 'the killer', so a three-hander. If they'd have told us that it was just Max and Stacey, we'd have probably worked out that one of us was Archie's killer! On the night of the live, Diederick told me that Stacey was the killer and went on to reveal that the elusive three-hander was actually a two-hander with me and Lacey [Turner]."

What did you think to the script when you read it?
"It's amazing. Simon Ashdown's written yet another amazing script. He knows Max and Stacey inside out, so from that point of view, you just want to do the script justice. Hopefully we've done that."

Can you always tell when Simon's written an episode?
"I think I probably could. I think Max is based on Simon's younger years! Simon has a very distinct style of writing. It's such a privilege when I get one of his scripts, through."

How different was it to film compared to a normal episode?
"Very different. We had three rehearsal days and normally in any one filming day, you're shooting scenes from about eight different episodes. The scenes are usually anything from about a page to four or five. There's a 26-page scene which, when they timed it, was a 19-minute take - that was the studio day. It was almost like doing theatre."

How many times did it take you to get the 19-minute scene spot on?
"We did two takes, running through the entire thing twice and that was it."

How long did it take to film?
"We finished filming for it about ten days ago and it's been quite a quick turnaround. They originally scheduled three days but they added another day for some scenes on location, so it ended up being three night shoots and a day in the studio."

What can you tell us about the episode?
"Max is desperate to talk to Stacey. He's not seen her since those scenes in the mortuary when Stacey ran away. In the same way as the audience do, Max wants answers. He wants to make Stacey pay for what happened to Bradley as he blames her for his son's death. Ultimately, he wants to turn her over to the police to clear his son's name."

Are there any shock revelations in the episode?
"There is information that comes out that hasn't been revealed yet, so there are certainly a good few things that you didn't know beforehand. Max and Stacey go over everything that needs to be said…"

Are you excited about working with Zöe Lucker? What have they told you about their relationship?
"Very much. I've never met her but she's done some great work over the years. It's a great addition to the show. I don't know much about her character Vanessa, other than she's Max's new love interest. From what I know, she's a feisty character who gives as good as she gets. It'll be a great pairing."

Are you looking forward to Jo Joyner returning, too?
"Absolutely. She's back at some point over the summer. She was here for the anniversary party and she's just loving being a mum at the minute. She's excited about coming back, though. I'm really looking forward to it - I love working with her."

Do you think Max has burned his bridges as far as Tanya's concerned?
"Max will always think that there's a glimmer of hope for him and Tanya. That's Max - he always thinks that he'll be able to rekindle that romance with her. As we found out at Bradley's funeral, though, Tanya's got a new man called Greg. Whether Tanya comes back with him remains to be seen…"

Have you met your new boss Bryan Kirkwood yet?
"Yeah, he's meeting all the cast at the minute and getting fully immersed in it all. We'll have to wait and see what the future holds, but it's all very positive. There are exciting times ahead."

> Click here to read more about the episode
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