EastEnders Stuart Highway is certainly a mixed up villain – any man who is capable of shooting himself just to ensure that their enemy is sent to prison is surely capable of anything. And actor Ricky Champ, who plays Stuart, has warned that his alter ego has not stopped yet when it comes to exacting revenge on Mick Carter.
With Mick in prison blamed for a crime he didnt commit, Stuart is relishing his suffering and is only going to get worse – particularly as it seems that he may now target Linda. But ricky also warned that all villains must get their comeuppance and Stuart is maybe not wise to take on the Carters so readily.
Heres what the actor said when Metro.co.uk put our questions to him:
How long has Stuart been planning this revenge?
This is all going exactly as Stuart planned it but there have been some specific points which have driven him to it. When he came out of his coma, it did seem like he was scrambling a bit and he had to think on his feet. At the moment, its all falling into place for him and everything that he has planted has started to pay off.
What is the end game for Stuart – what does he want to happen to Mick?
I think initially he just wanted Mick to endure the same suffering that he did. Stuart has this dark, obscure history of being in and out of jail and I think he blames Mick for all of that. As far as end game goes, youll just have to wait and see but for now, Stuart can allow himself a moment of satisfaction that this part of the plan has gone swimmingly.
At the moment, Stuart is showing no remorse but do you think he has a conscience somewhere?
Yes, I do. Theres this great conflict in Stuart Highway – and you see it at his most heightened moment such as in the episode leading up to the shooting where you saw him speaking to himself in the mirror. That madness was really dovetailing there. But there is part of him that is human and part of him thats really damaged. He does suffer some guilt – his conscience makes it all the more painful for him to do these things, hes not a robot by any means.
He must be a fascinating character to play – how do you get into the head of a man who can go as far as shooting himself to frame Mick?
There are always some really high stakes with Stuart – I never draw on real experiences, I dont think I have got any that are quite like this that I can tap into. But I do a few things, I zone in and listen to some music and make some conscious choices with the dialogue. You get a real opportunity on EastEnders to really craft a character. Its unlike other shows where you have a definitive beginning and the end. Youre always in the middle here but never at the end – its a journey that you never land from. That kind thing suits Stuart because he is always operating. Hes never finished and never truly satisfied.
The other way I do it is that I am constantly drawing inspiration from the other cast members. Ive never felt so scary in my life as when I walked into the Vic with all of those cast members and extras and I tossed that coin. Everyone was really scared of me and I thought oh blimey! – so everybody contributes a huge amount to it. But a lot of it comes when I am in my dressing room alone too.
A bit of talking to yourself in the mirror?
I actually always avoid the mirror! I will always be thinking: oh do my lips really look like that when I say that word or do I really want to flare my nostrils at that point? So I just go with what feels right instead.
Part of Stuarts threat is referring to Linda being lonely night – would he try and make Mick suffer through Linda?
Youd just have to wait and see but I think we can safely assume from that conversation and his agenda that this isnt over and the Carters as a whole should be afraid, very afraid.
Is Zara his weakness? Does her turning her back on him make Stuart more dangerous?
Definitely. Stuart does have suffering and sorrow and when that happens with Zara, it makes him more dangerous as those feelings always manifest themselves in explosions with him. History has taught us with him that those explosions will be pointed in the direction of the Carters. Zara walking out will really affect him. I loved playing that moment waking up from the coma and seeing Zara in front of him – played by the lovely Faye who did it brilliantly. It was a really lovely moment – no other agenda for just that moment. Stuart and his daughter and he was happy to be alive. I enjoyed finding those moments of happiness – its a kind of deflection from whats happening. Its interesting to see him happy or as a joker now and again – someone who could co-exist quite happily if it werent for all of that darkness. Its just a shame that hes all those other things as well.
Is there any way that Stuart might be redeemable to the audience?
Well I think weve sewn a seed for that but as far as true redemption goes, Im not so sure about that – especially not from the Carters, hes gone too far for that. But you never know – why cant he just stay absolutely terrible and live in Walford for 20 years? (laughs)
Are you looking forward to the showdowns when the Carters discover the truth? Should he be worried about the Carters?
You get the Carters backs up and they can be quite scary themselves! As far as whatever explosions happen in the future, yes I will relish them as always.
What kind of response do you get from fans? Any abuse on the streets?
With a character like Stuart, theres always going to be some abuse online but actually out on the street, most of the time its been very complimentary. Its becoming more frequent for me which is a strange feeling. It feels complimentary that people know you from your work. There is definitely a reaction though…
I suppose thats what you want with a character like Stuart…
Yes, of course. I love it when people say youre disgusting, youre horrible! Its a back handed compliment, isnt it?