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We know and love (or sometimes love to hate) their characters on screen, but now it’s time to discover all the behind-the-scenes secrets from our favourite soap stars.
In our exclusive interview, Soap Stars Coming Clean, OK!'s finding out all the juicy gossip about what happens when the cameras stop rolling, as well as the actors’ favourite memories with their co-stars.
We recently caught up with EastEnders actor, James Farrar, who plays Zack, to chat about the cheeky comments Danny Dyer makes when the cameras aren’t rolling, his co-star Kellie Bright's kind gesture, and why Letitia Dean and James Bye have been giving him advice as he counts down the days to becoming a first-time father.
What’s your favourite memory on the show so far?
There are two. The first day on set where there were a lot of stunts at Gavin’s funeral will stick with me for a long time. If you’d have told 15-year-old James that he’d be opposite Gillian Taylforth [who plays Kathy] and Letitia Dean [who plays Sharon] running through a funeral drinking a bottle of whisky, he’d never have believed it!
How about the other?
There’s a scene that aired recently where Zack and Nancy have spent the night together and the family bumps into them on the landing in The Queen Vic. What viewers probably don’t realise is that there’s no escape in that landing. I was naked as the day I was born running through and, as Rose [Ayling-Ellis, who plays Frankie], Danny [Dyer, who plays Mick] and Maddy [Hill, who plays Nancy] were finishing their dialogue, I was cowered in the corner, holding my privates. The director called ‘cut’ and Danny looked over to me and said, “It’s lucky that you’re in good nick, son!” That will stay with me forever – it was a real tickler.
You must have fun working with Danny…
Oh, massively. Danny’s become the nation’s sweetheart in my eyes. He was that from day one in his career, but since coming to EastEnders we’ve all fallen in love with him again. I certainly have on a personal level. We get on really well and I think his work is incredible.
Who else are you closest to from the cast?
On joining the show the majority of my scenes have been with Letitia, who is pretty much a sister to me now. I'm going through a big stage in my life when it comes to fatherhood and she’s coaching me through that. Equally, James [Bye, who plays Martin] is a father so he’s doing the same and James’ wife is very close with my wife. Plus, me and Maddy are thick as thieves. She’s become a really good mate of mine. We went to the beach together last weekend and have a lot in common coming from similar backgrounds.
What’s the best advice your co-stars have given you about fatherhood?
James said the moment the baby’s passed to you, where you're told to be topless and there’s skin on skin, will change your life forever. It got quite emotional. James also said he would never cry at the television before the moment he had his first and now he weeps at everything. I already cry anyway, I love blubbing.
Who’s your funniest co-stars?
Number one is James. We’ve got the same sense of humour so we’re forever relaying quotes from the film Anchor Man, or anything Will Ferrell. And when me, James and Letitia have our scenes together, I can’t keep a straight face. Both of those have me in stitches.
What do you always have in your dressing room?
Snacks and my speakers. The first thing I do when I arrive on set is put my tunes on, have a little exercise and jump in the shower before heading off to film. My dressing room is my safe space. In fact, with Kellie Bright [who plays Linda] going off on maternity leave, she’s said I can have her dressing room.
Aw, how nice!
Yes, she purposefully knew that I’m somebody who appreciates his space a lot. My wife wrote a book that talks about space a lot and our home space is very important, so considering I’m spending 14 hours a day at work, I really appreciate the fact that Kellie, who is just an incredible woman and total sweetheart, is giving me her room. It’s got real natural light and is really cosy – it’s the best room in the place, so I’ve lucked out.
Which celebrity would you love to see doing a guest role?
Danny Mays is such a perfect fit for the show and with the grittiness of Walford, I think he’d fit right in. His body of work is incredible and he is such a funny, lovely man.
If Zack could have a romance with anyone else in Albert Square, who would you like it to be?
Zack needs somebody that would keep him grounded. He's surrounded by very powerful women in Sharon and Nancy, so Nancy is the obvious option, but I think Kathy would be a good one. It would be incredible to work more with Gillian. I can’t speak highly enough of her.
What’s the funniest fan encounter you’ve ever had?
I was at Durdle Door walking and I got to the end of a 90-minute walk and there were three teenage girls and their mum. They walked up to me and said, “Zack! Do you mind if we have a photo? We’ve been following you for 90 minutes!” (Laughs).
If you weren’t in EastEnders, which other soap would you like to be in?
Probably an American one. My wife and I have always talked about living on the Californian coastline.
Finally, if you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?
My mum forced me to take GCSE drama, my sister then forced me to study at drama school and finally my wife forced me to go to a drama school in London to do a screen acting course. From that day forward, everything fell into place. So the women in my life have made me the man I am today.
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EastEnders is on BBC One on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday as well as BBC iPlayer
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