Digital Spy recently caught up with Matt Lapinskas, who plays Anthony, for a chat about his recent storylines, life at EastEnders and where he wants his character to go next.
How are you finding your time at EastEnders?
"I'm really enjoying it and it's been a real learning curve. Every day I come into work and I learn something new from a different member of the team. It's fantastic working with everybody here.
"For example, the viewers have just seen a big week that we did with Jamie Foreman who plays Derek Branning, and he's a master at what he does. He's absolutely brilliant, as he sat down with me and chatted about various aspects of acting and projects that he's worked on. That was a real inspiration."
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue acting?
"I've wanted to do it ever since I was little. I was never really academic at school and was much more interested in hands-on things, rather than Science, Maths or English.
"I did well with Drama at secondary school and developed a massive passion for it. I took part in all of the school shows and played the role of Bill Sikes in Oliver Twist when I was 14, which was quite fun! So I went on from there, really."
"I loved the challenge. Every time you get a big storyline and lots of scripts, it's fantastic - there's lots to sink your teeth into. Myself, Jamie and Tony Discipline sat down and spoke about the scenes beforehand, discussing how we were going to perform them. It's like taking on a new project, so every time I get a new storyline, I'm hands-on and ready to go for it."
Anthony and Tyler had always got on quite well with Derek. How did they feel when he turned so nasty?
"I think it was definitely a shock for them to see his true colours! Anthony was really worried as he didn't want them to get into trouble, so as we saw, he was trying his best to get them out of it. But even though they were scared of Derek, Anthony and Tyler are brothers and they've got each other's backs, so it was nice that we saw them standing up to Derek in some of the scenes."
Have they learned any lessons from it?
"I think they've learned a massive lesson when it comes to who they can't trust, and who they shouldn't cross!"
Anthony's gambling problem means that there's a slightly edgier side to the character. Do you enjoy portraying that?
"Yes, it's a great thing that our executive producer Bryan Kirkwood and the EastEnders team came up with for Anthony - that he does have this gambling problem and various insecurities connected with it. It adds some more depth to the character and it's brilliant when we can explore that. With every topic and every storyline that crops up, I think Anthony's background will always have an effect and impact on it. That's really nice to play."
"Well, from the start, I think Anthony always admired Michael and looked up to him. Michael was a businessman and very independent, and I think that's what Anthony wanted to be himself. So Anthony definitely took it to heart when he found out about the boxing match and how Michael had put Tyler in danger.
"But I think Anthony has always wanted to forgive Michael - it was Tyler who wanted to keep his distance. Anthony is always going to stick by Tyler, but he does have a soft spot for Michael and that's why he made the first move by approaching him for help."
Would you like the three brothers to stick together more and perhaps become more of a force on Albert Square?
"That would be brilliant - it'd be fantastic to take over the Square! Maybe they could take over the various businesses and start running everything. I'm sure that's probably not going to happen, but you never know - maybe in the future!"
Do you think Anthony and Tyler can ever fully trust Michael?
"I think they might be able to trust Michael, because he is family. But if they do trust him, they'll always be open to being taken for granted and maybe backstabbed by him again. We'll have to wait and see what happens, because he is very devious."
Does Anthony wish he was a bit more like Tyler?
"I think he does every now and then. Tyler is a bit more of a hands-on character, who has a real 'get up and go' attitude. But Anthony is more of a thinker and he'll analyse situations beforehand, rather than just going for it and not really thinking of the consequences. There are times where Anthony wishes he was more like Tyler, but at the same time, he's quite happy with who he is."
"Well, from the very first time Anthony saw Amira at the pub, he said she was a goddess. Since then, he's been helping her out a bit, and she's warming to him. You never know what could happen - watch this space. It could turn into something beautiful!"
Does Amira really like Anthony, or is she just using him?
"I think at first she might have wanted to use him to make Syed jealous, but over a period of time, she might start warming to him. He is genuinely a nice guy and quite charming, so she could fall for him."
As EastEnders is your first big role, how have you found the recognition that comes with it?
"It has been an adjustment, as you can be walking down the street and people will be staring at you. Sometimes I forget why! But the great thing is that I haven't had any negative recognition - it's all been positive. Everyone has been really nice and I've always got time to talk to the EastEnders fans."
As your screen brother Tony started at a similar time as you, has that been a big help?
"It's been great to have that, really. When you come into such a big show, it's fantastic to have another new person on the journey with you. We started off together and became friends, and it's grown and grown from there. We're great friends off the set, and I think that really comes across on screen as we are so close."
"Shane Richie is a fantastic guy - he always makes you laugh, but he's so professional as well. Jessie Wallace is a brilliant actress - she's done so much for EastEnders and is a lovely woman. Also, Steve McFadden is my mentor and he always helps me out. If I need anything, I can just call him or text him. He's been in the show for years now, and he's always willing to sit and chat."
Moving forward, what kind of storylines would you like to explore with Anthony?
"I'd really like to deal with an issue or a current topic - something that affects young lads out there who are Anthony's age. It'd be great to go away, do some research and portray a topic that would be quite hard-hitting. I think that's what EastEnders is all about - it likes to take real-life topics and educate people about them."
It sounds like you're really enjoying your time on the show.
"I am, especially as I was a massive fan and I'd watched EastEnders since I was little. It really is fantastic to be a part of something that you've watched for so long!"
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