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Soaps Interview

'EastEnders': Daniel Coonan on awards, car crash and Carl's future

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Daniel Coonan as Carl White in EastEnders

© BBC / Kieron McCarron

Daniel Coonan



EastEnders newcomer Daniel Coonan has made an immediate impact on screen as schemer Carl White, who shows the full force of his manipulative nature next week as the soap's big car crash storyline leads to Max Branning's arrest.

After only a few weeks on screen, the actor has landed a nomination for 'Best Bad Boy' at the 2013 Inside Soap Awards, which take place in London in October.

Digital Spy recently gave Daniel a call to hear his thoughts on the nomination, the upcoming crash and Carl's ruthless ways…

How do you feel about being in the running for an Inside Soap Award?
"I was quite surprised, to be honest with you. I haven't been on the show for very long, so I didn't expect any nominations at all, but obviously I'm happy about it! Being up for 'Best Bad Boy' is quite amazing, especially as the nomination was announced before Carl's villainous storylines had even come to fruition on screen. You've seen glimpses of his nasty side so far, but there's much bigger stuff to come very soon."

How do you rate your chances against the other bad boys who have been nominated?
"I haven't even thought about it! I've been so busy filming these new stories which are going on with Carl, so I just haven't had time! (Laughs.) I spend all day on set, go home, cook some dinner and go to sleep! I'm just really pleased to be nominated."

The Inside Soap Awards 2013

The Inside Soap Awards 2013



Has it been easy to settle into EastEnders?
"It has, I think that I've settled in pretty quickly. Everyone is friendly at EastEnders and they almost become a surrogate family, because we all spend so much time together. We all get along and everyone looks out for each other. The time really has flown by."

How does Carl compare to your previous roles? Have you played bad boys before?
"I've started specialising in those roles, really! (Laughs.) If you're an actor, you might find that you always get the 'lover' type parts, or always get the villains. People peg you quite quickly, and I've been pegged as a villain. I'm quite happy about that, though, because I like playing them!

"The interesting thing about playing villains is that you can never guess what they're going to do next, because they're capable of doing anything to get what they want. In that sense, villains can go to a lot of different places story-wise. I think those parts are also more fun and exciting to watch, because they don't operate in the usual social boundaries. They make up their own laws as they go along."

Being on Twitter, what kind of reaction have you seen to Carl so far?
"It's been overwhelmingly positive. I'm quite new to Twitter. I only joined up because there were quite a few fake accounts for me on there, and my mum even started following one of them. Since setting up an account, I've had so many lovely messages from people who say they love watching Carl.

"It's made me quite buoyant about playing the part. You can never predict how people are going to react to your character, especially on a soap which is watched by so many people. I'm glad people are finding him fun to watch."

Carl takes pleasure in winding Max up, sarcastically offering to help him with work

© BBC

Max and Carl



Would you say there's more to Carl than being a bad boy?
"We've already seen the scenes with Carl's mother, who's quite a dominating and horrible character, so we know that he's had demons within his own family. There's a possibility that Carl wants to have a family of his own and go legit in the long-term, but whether he's capable of doing that is another thing!

"I don't believe in just playing one-dimensional characters. There's got to be layers and there are always reasons behind why people do what they do. When it comes to Carl, he's had a very troubled background.

"There's a bit of nice in him, but he won't be taking any cookery holidays anytime soon! He's interested in dominating, making money and having influence. Carl won't ever be good until he gets those things."

When it comes to next week's car crash, why is Carl scheming against Phil?
"Carl has recognised that Phil is the person he needs to deal with, as Phil is a major barrier to getting what he wants. There are two ways of going about that - trying to do business with Phil, or taking him out altogether…

"The scenes were fantastic to film. I had to be inside the car and they put a detonator on the window. The window went through while myself and the stuntman were in the car. I was a little bit nervous about that, but I didn't have much time to think about it!"

Carl moves away from the wreckage.

© BBC

Carl's car crash scenes



Had you done stunt work before?
"Yes, I had. I did a shoot in Cuba once where they were blowing up a market behind me. That was a bit more scary, because the charges on the market stalls behind me were massive! It was so heavy to film, but I had to be cool as a cucumber in the script and pretend that nothing was about to happen! I love all that stuff, as it just adds a different dimension to the job."

What's it like to work with Steve McFadden, who plays Phil?
"He's a real legend and sometimes I can't quite believe that I'm working with him. We have chats about various things. Steve is a real outdoors man and he loves fishing. I sit there thinking, 'I can't believe I'm chatting to Phil Mitchell!' But he's a real pro and if we've got scenes to do, we just get on with the job."

How about working with Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian?
"Adam is a lovely guy. He was the person who put me on Twitter and got people following me. We've also organised to do a charity football match in the autumn. He's a really friendly and extroverted person.

"It is slightly strange when you join EastEnders and recognise all these faces who you've been watching over the years. I've been watching Adam since I was 11 years old. But now we're all just mates."

Carl attempts to remind Kirsty of all the good times they shared together.

© BBC

Carl and Kirsty



Do you think Carl has any chance of winning Kirsty back?
"Carl wants to win Kirsty back, but he also realises that she's been mistreated by Max. He recognises that she's not happy in the relationship, so he fervently believes that he can get her back. Although they had a troubled relationship themselves, they did have moments of extreme happiness and excitement too.

"Saying that, Carl is a troubled guy and Kirsty may want to swerve him as she knows he's not the type of guy who's just going to change overnight. Carl thinks that he's the knight in shining armour coming to rescue her, but the truth of the situation is probably very different."

Is he capable of treating Kirsty well, or would it all end in tears?
"I think there'll always be tears! If Carl got back together with Kirsty, he would treat her like a goddess and she'd have everything she wanted. But at the same time, he'd probably have problems dealing with the fact that she's very independent and is her own person. Kirsty wants to do what she wants to do.

"I wouldn't say Carl is a bully, but he sees himself as the provider and the head of the relationship. In that sense, he's old-fashioned and a bit misguided. They're both very strong-willed characters, so if they did get back together, it would definitely be a fiery relationship…"

> Inside Soap Awards 2013 - longlist nominees in full
> Read more 'EastEnders' spoilers and news

Votes for the 2013 Inside Soap Awards, sponsored by Mecca, can be cast via the Inside Soap website.

Digital Spy Soap Scoop video - press play below to watch Amie Parker-Williams reveal gossip on some tragic news in Coronation Street, a horrific car crash in EastEnders, a surprise arrest in Emmerdale and a shocking allegation in Hollyoaks.

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