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Coronation Street revelation with Joel in Lauren’s disappearance

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Coronation Street revelation with Joel in Lauren’s disappearance

There was a twist of events in tonight’s episode of ‘The Street’…

Following the reveal in tonight’s episode that Joel is the mystery man behind Lauren’s disappearance and suspected murder, actor Calum Lill talks about the plot development in the Weatherfield saga.

How does it feel for you that the public finally knows what you’ve known for such a long time?

I’m terrified but it’s also a relief. I’ve known this for over a year. It was last May that I got sent the breakdown for Joel saying that he was a charming character who’s got a dark side. When I got the screen test they said, ‘Okay, this is what Joel is going to be doing’. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, like this is a really terrible person. And I’ve got to hide in plain sight for a year.’

So you knew at that point how long it was going to be?

Yes I did. In my first meeting with the producer he said that they had already storyboarded it month by month, obviously parts of it can change but the arc of the story spanned the year and a lot of detail had been decided which is rare.

How did you feel?

I felt a huge weight of responsibility on my shoulders to do well and not give it away and not play some cliche, because the things Joel has done have happened to people in real life. So I had meetings with charities and did research. I watched documentaries and read psychological papers to create as much truth as possible. The thing that I kept in my mind was I would never want anyone who’d experienced anything like that to be watching something on screen that didn’t feel authentic and feel offended.

I did also feel safe because of all the work behind the scenes that went into creating this character and this storyline. Everyone has been so invested in making it quality and making it something to be proud of.

Was it important to you to make this character likeable, affable and charming so that we didn’t start to suspect that there was more to him?

Yes 100% and a line that I had to tread was I can’t make him so nice that it’s just ridiculous that he could do this. So I’ve just been watching documentaries and reading reports on people like this. And one thing that kept coming back to me was that they never suspected them, they were so charming, even right to the extremes of people like Ted Bundy. I’ve watched hours of footage of Ted Bundy to understand his mannerisms and his intonation, not that Joel is based on him, but just to understand the real person. He’s so nice. He’s confident and he’s charming but that is just a facade.

Was it helpful for you to have almost the red herring of the ex wife and the divorce and the daughter that you’ve kept secret from Dee-Dee to give him some sort of side to him that maybe he wasn’t as nice as he seemed?

I think as many people as it’s thrown off the scent I think it’s made other viewers believe that they can’t trust him as he’s already hurt our beloved Dee-Dee. It was really useful in having a back story and background for him so I can understand how he thinks and how he ticks and his moral compass on that whole situation.

What was it like keeping that secret and what were people’s reactions to you out and about. Did they have suspicions about Joel?

It has been difficult – even my family don’t know, they will have found out at the same time as the viewers. I don’t think they were suspicious as they probably didn’t think I could play an evil character like Joel. I was having Sunday dinner with my family a couple of weeks ago, and they were all talking about their own theories of who they think it is. And every one of them has got a different one and not one of them thinks it is Joel. They have not been suspicious of me at all. They were aware that some people were suspicious online but believed me!

How is your Gran going to react, you posted on your social media that she was texting you, telling you to be nice to Dee-Dee and upset that Joel was married?

Haha I don’t know but I am going to try and watch it with her, it will be like watching a horror film, she will lose her mind, she might call the police, she will want to ring Dee-Dee. She has known my girlfriend for four years but she is very invested in Joel and Dee-Dee

We are now in the situation where the audience knows but no one in Weatherfield does. What is next for Joel, is he worried?

I think he’s trying to work out how many loose ends there could be and how to deal with them. Obviously as a defence solicitor he knows how to play the game and knows that there is reasonable doubt and that he needs to cancel out anything that could be tied down to him. But you know, this is new territory for him. He might have been in a situation before where he’s broken the law and not treated people very nicely. But this is new and I think he feels real concern. He has to make it stick on Nathan so no one ever suspects it could be Joel.

How does he feel about representing Nathan?

It was a huge stroke of luck. He was the duty solicitor on the day that Nathan’s questioned. He just happens to be in the right place at the right time, and he is sitting there representing a man who is being wrongly accused of the thing that he did. He is as shocked as Nathan when the hair in Nathan’s car is proved to be Lauren’s. He doesn’t care about Nathan. This could be the thing that gets Roy out of prison and stops Dee-Dee being so stressed about Roy, because he does feel bad about that as he does adore her, that is the one thing that he struggles with and now it looks like the problem is solved.

Does he feel at all guilty about another innocent man taking the blame for what he has done?

It doesn’t affect him. I think he can justify everything he’s ever done in his own head. He’s never done anything wrong in his mind. He can justify all of it. Nathan’s a groomer and a rapist and he’s the scum of the earth. But as far as Joel is concerned, he sees himself as someone who helped a girl and then had a sexual relationship and then she pushed his buttons and she got what she had coming in. And his moral compass is absolutely off, he can compartmentalise anything, because Nathan’s done loads wrong it is fine for him to take the rap for this.

What makes Joel the way he is?

He is very messed up, he sees women in two ways. He has these women he adores and puts on a pedestal like Dee-Dee and then there are the other women, the young girls that he sees as lesser in some way in his eyes and takes his hatred for women out on them. When he sees these vulnerable young women probably from broken homes, with criminal records and no one looking out for them he is like a shark he hones in on them, coercively controls them and emotionally manipulates them using his power and money. If you were to sit down and try and ask him why he did it he would justify it as just helping them.

When no one else would. It is a repetitive pattern of behaviour, he engages with these young girls and afterwards there is the element of guilt so he tries to be a good person and be better towards Dee-Dee. Then the guilt wears off and he needs another ‘fix’, he has a euphoria/guilt cycle. It is a pattern of destructive behaviour. And we will see in the coming weeks that he is still doing it.

Next week we see him propose to Dee-Dee, is that part of this pattern?

I think the proposal comes from the fact that he thinks there’s a genuine possibility that the game is up.. He’s going through a really tough time and he might get in trouble for something that he really believes wasn’t his fault. Everything you see about how he acts towards Dee-Dee is genuine. And he’s rushing to marry this woman that he genuinely loves. The proposal is partly guilt and it’s partly that he thinks he has a good chance that he could go to prison and not see her again. So he’s trying to let her know how much he in his own head loves her.

How long do you think he can continue hiding in plain sight? Is he going to make any mistakes?

I mean, the longer he hides the more chance there is of him making a mistake. He’s been good so far in that he’s been engaging in this behaviour as long as we have seen him, and Lauren was attacked in February. And no one’s seen him. No one’s caught him out until now but they don’t actually know they have caught him out. But I think the longer it goes on for, the more chance he’s got of slipping up and I think he knows that.

You can see that in him getting more and more anxious that the slightest thing could bring his world crumbling down around him, you know, even just the fact that he slept with Lauren. That’s a breach of trust alone and will be enough to end his career and relationship plus murder on top of that, his life would be over you know. Everything that he values in his life, his job, his fiance, his freedom? So the stakes couldn’t be higher. But when he panics, the more chance there is of something going wrong.

He’s a really, really complex character, with so many facets, do you look forward to getting the scripts to see what he’s going to do next? How much are you enjoying playing Joel?

I absolutely look forward to getting the scripts but I can’t even wait for the script. I have to ask the producer if they can sit me down and tell me everything that’s going on. I have got a book that I have written month by month from last July of everything up to now that has happened with Joel. I just want to try to understand what on earth is going on inside his head. Just the audacity of the man just carrying on with Dee-Dee, sometimes I read a script and I can’t believe what he is doing.

It is such a gift of a part. I couldn’t have wished for a better opportunity to be given to me by ITV and Coronation Street. I’ve never I’ve never been so busy and I’ve never had to learn so many lines in my life, but I’ve also never been so happy and fulfilled.

You must be hoping then it’ll be a little while before it gets caught. Giving you more time to enjoy your job with him hiding in plain sight?

I hope Joe’s very good at hiding because I really enjoy coming to work, but for soap justice I know that at some point he’s going to be found out.

Coronation Street airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on ITV1 and STV.

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