Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Connor McIntyre interview: Phelan's reign of terror comes to an end


We had the pleasure of sitting down with the brilliant Connor McIntyre at Corrie's recent press day on Monday and talking all things Phelan...

How do you feel about leaving?
As always it’s sad to lose the people you’ve grown close to, it’s been some ride hasn’t it? From three scenes up to where we are now, and the opportunities I’ve been given to play out. It’s the right time, the viewers have really stuck with us all the way through, we’ve tested their patience and it’s a fit time for it to conclude, but tinged with sadness.

There has been some criticism of Andy and Vinny’s deaths. Do you think it’s right that Coronation Street moves with the time and shows scenes like that?
Sure, I do and I respect everybody’s opinion but thankfully it’s not my problem, my obligation is between action and cut. The scripts have been great, we’ve really taken it as close as we could get to, some of those scenes have been good as any drama that we’ve seen on television in my opinion – set against Aidan’s story, set against Bethany’s story. It’s fantastic.

How much of Phelan is going to be in panto?
I suspect that the audience are going to bring an awful lot of that to the panto. I think it’s a great idea. I wasn’t thinking about it, it seems such a normal thing to do – leave a soap and do a panto – but I wasn’t looking for it, and I’m very much looking forward to getting back to my studio, but Claire Heseltine, who is Les Dennis’ partner, she said to Les “Wouldn’t it be a great idea if we could get you two together in a panto?” so we really owe Claire for that. I think it’s a great idea and I think it’s a lovely counterpart to Phelan at the end of the year. I’ve been playing this really vile character in many respects for two and a half years this time round, so I think it’s a really nice way to tie the year up.

How do you feel about being part of Coronation Street history?
It’s a great privilege when you think of the iconic characters and the history of the show. I was born nine days after the first episode went out so we grew up with it. To be part of that – my mum, God rest her soul, would be very pleased.

Have you taken any souvenirs or bits of costume?
I’ve taken a couple of little bits, not for myself, hopefully there’ll be a charity that I can sign them for. I did think about the van – I got very protective about the van! I said “What’s going to happen to the van?” because somebody had said to me “It’ll probably just get scrapped” and I was like “Really?” I said “If that’s the case, I’ll buy it or whatever” because maybe there was something charitable we could’ve done with that. But the good news for the guys going on the Corrie tour is that Phelan’s van is on the Corrie tour.

What did you think about his exit when the scripts came through?
I thought it was terrific. Let’s go right back to the beginning. What started this whole chain of events was when Owen came to the house, looking for money, Phelan said he hasn’t got any, and they steal his motorbike. So one very bad choice at the beginning started this whole chain of calamitous events. Phelan’s made some very calamitous choices, and this part of the story starts with a calamitous choice – why not just call the police? But no, this is Coronation Street and it’s “Let’s get him back to the street”. And once he arrives back on the street, it’s not going to end well, is it?

How would you describe Phelan?
A dangerous narcissist. He’s a cat in a world of mice.

Is he evil?
Is it as simple as that? I think one of the things that has given Pat Phelan some longevity is the fact that we see qualities in him that are very human. People often say to me “We know there’s a good man there fighting to get out.” We can see a sense of decency in there somewhere but again, because of his pathology, bad choice after bad choice.

What has been the public reaction to you?
What would you guess is the question I get asked the most? It’s, “Do you love Eileen or not?” – and I think that’s really heartening about people. It’s not about the murders – no, no. It’s “Do you love Eileen or not?” which is really quite touching, isn’t it?

Did Phelan really love Eileen?
I believe he very much did. I always refer people back to the scene where the guy came into the house and attacked Phelan in the kitchen. He thought that Eileen was possibly going to get hurt, so he was beside himself, running out into the street, screaming for Eileen.

Is there a side to Phelan that’s quite likeable?
Yes, and as a villain, that’s what’s given him traction. He’s fully rounded. Then there’s the question “Is he evil?” Well, he is sometimes and sometime he’s not. Unfortunately, the evil seems to outweigh everything else.

Do you relish the fact that, because they are going out post-watershed, these episodes can push the boundaries a bit?
It gives us a bit more licence to go further with this story. We’ve really pushed the boundaries. So we’ll have to see what the reaction is.

Now he’s back on the street, does Phelan have any conscience left or his blinded by revenge?
That’s a good question. Would he have come back by choice? Maybe at some other time. But it’s still about control, as it is with dangerous narcissists. He’s still involved in Nicola’s life, he still knows what’s going on. Would he have come back by choice? Possibly not. But being forcibly dragged back, strapped into a chair and held hostage – I think we know it’s not going to end well!

Why do you think Phelan’s story has divided the nation?
He's a fully-formed, three-dimensional character. There are bits about him that people loathe. But again, people think there's a good man fighting to get out. It's about that internal battle. In another world, him and Eileen would have been a great couple. The reaction to most of the stuff with Andy down in the cellar was, "Just let him go. Go back to Eileen and we'll even forgive you for Michael." There was a real tug at people. If it divides them, it's great.

They're fast forwarding 18 months in New Zealand. Do you have a message for viewers there?
‎We love the New Zealand fans, and I hope it makes some sense! They'll be saying, "Where's this guy from? What's his problem?" Because it's as well to point out that this has been five years roughly in the cooking, and we've seen Phelan develop incrementally through that time.

Why do you think this is the right time to go?
We've taken the audience with us on a couple of false starts. "He's almost gone, almost gone. He deserves his comeuppance, but he's stretching it a little bit further." So we've really asked the audience to come along with us for the ride, and they have done. So they deserve the pay-off, and I think it's a decent pay-off.

Are there any roles you'd love to play in the future?
I'd love to do Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare. As actors, we're not really in control of that - and if we are, it's with a small c. So we'll see what happens. I've learnt to become a bit more philosophical about it. Who'd have guessed that from three episodes we'd do all this? You couldn't have foreseen that. I love to be at work. I love what I do. So, Shakespeare? Sure. I love all of that.

By Sophie Williams, on twitter: @sophie_jw26




Please read our advice for leaving comments on the Coronation Street Blog
All original work on Coronation Street Blog is covered by a Creative Commons License

1 comment:

Humpty Dumpty said...

It's only Connor McIntyre's amazing performance which has made the character of Phelan work. Phelan, the character, isn't fully-formed or three-dimensional at all. The only people he cares for are extensions of himself, as you might expect of a narcissist. The writers could have given him an unexpected tenderness towards wild life, linking it back to the childhood experience with his father which he told Todd about. We know little or nothing about his mother (if so, I've forgotten). Was he brought up in a strict religious home? It works the other way in Corrie, too, where promising characters are let down by ho-hum acting. If Phelan had been played by a lesser actor, the preposterous nature of the storyline would have led to a swift exit for the character.

You might also like...