Coronation Street's Will Mellor reveals drug lord Harvey could be here to stay – despite awaiting his fate in court
CORONATION Street drugs lord Harvey Gaskell will learn his fate tomorrow night as the jury deliver their bombshell verdict – but actor Will Mellor isn't writing off his hit character.
Two Pints Of Lager star Will, 45, joined the ITV soap earlier this year and menacing Harvey has wreaked havoc on the lives of Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) and her adopted son Simon Barlow (Alex Bain) by forcing them to deal drugs for him.
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However, feisty tiger mum Leanne turned police informant and bravely defied death threats to give evidence against him.
Will said: “I haven't said I'm out of it yet. No one knows what happens. I'm having a great time. I love being on set and the people have been so nice. Also, the pace is great for me. If you do movies or a drama you can be six hours on one scene. In Corrie you've got literally an hour and a half and you're off. It keeps the energy up and I live on energy.”
Will has also relished filming in Manchester where his recently widowed mum Shirley lives. He said: “I've really enjoyed it being up in Manchester. I've been able to see my mum a lot more which is really nice because she lives alone now. She's the matriarch of the family. She's an amazing woman.”
Will’s dad Bill died in April 2020 during lockdown. Then he lost two uncles and two aunts leaving him swamped in grief. Being cast as Harvey became a lifeline for Will, and his mum who had dreamed of him being in the show since he became an actor aged 12. He said: “It came at a good time because I had a lot going on in my family and it was a good distraction.
“It was a new focus. I like to have something to work towards. I like scripts. I like to be on set and playing this character is not like me. He's not a nice person at all. He's horrendous, but he's really fun to play.”
It helped that evil Harvey was such a big character and Will could throw himself into the role. He quickly decided to make him his most menacing creation ever.
Will said: “I knew exactly how I wanted to play him. I told the director and the producer about it. I said, ‘listen, I want to play this guy proper, straight and real. I don't want to be what you call a soap baddie and ham it up.’ I wanted to play it proper straight so you believe you could do your damage. It's quite hard to do that when you're in COVID because you've got to keep a three-metre distance.
“I couldn't physically get hold of anybody. The threat had to be with the looks in the eyes and the way you speak to people. I've done a lot of stuff with this character. He talks differently to me and the way he holds himself and the way he looks at people… all that is the character. It's not just the words. Whatever character I've played, you've got to believe it. I didn't want people to go, ‘I can see him acting there. Because then I've lost the audience, you know, you've got to believe it.’
Will is thrilled when his family and fans tell him how chilling they found his performance.
Fans in the street shout “leave Simon alone, he’s only little” and even mum Shirley has been shocked. He said: “My mum says, ‘You were horrible but it's good.’”
It was important to Will to play the storyline straight to show just how manipulative drugs dealers can be when they are looking for people to shift their deadly wares.
Will said: “It's real that there are people out there that do get young and innocent people to sell drugs for them because they're not on the drugs squad's radar. They get away with it and they ruin lives. I was happy I was raising awareness that these kids can easily get dragged into this world. It's hard to get out of once you're in.”
Will, who first found fame as Jambo in Hollyoaks back in 1995, is a lifelong Coronation Street fan and was genuinely awed to be treading the cobbles with heroes Bill Roache, who plays Ken Barlow, and Barbara Knox, who pays Rita Tanner.
In fact, he names lothario Ken as his favourite character of all time, quickly followed by Rita. He said: “You can't look too far past Ken Barlow. The fights he used to have with Mike. I remember when he punched him in the Rovers, it was like, ‘Go on Ken!’ The family used to gather around and we all cheered when Ken punched Mike. You've got to give it to Bill Roache, he’s amazing. And Barbara Knox, Rita. I've got massive respect for them. They look amazing and they're still doing a great the job.
Will was just 19 when he landed his breakout role in Hollyoaks, which was then a brand new soap. All the female stars lived in one house and all the male stars lived in another and Will admits they partied nightly.
He explained: “Hollyoaks was great times. We had a house at the bottom of this drive called Sandy Meadows and the girls rented the house at the top of the drive so it was like a party drive. We just partied. When you are young you can survive on two hours sleep, you bounce. Honestly if I go out now, I’m suffering for at least two or three days, I've got to plan it.”
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Will has just had a number one single with football charity hit Vindaloo Two which he recorded with pals Paddy McGuinness, Keith Lemon and EastEnders star Danny Dyer. Will doesn’t mind admitting they had a few “looseners” in the studio when they were laying down their vocals.
Will said: “We did have a couple of beers after the kids had gone when it was just me Paddy, Leigh and Danny in the studio. We had such a good laugh. Leigh kept doing it wrong, he's not even a football fan, he's just there to support the NHS charities.”
Lots of Will’s fellow 90s hellraisers have swapped pints for green smoothies and clean living – but that’s not for Will.
He added: “I'm still a lager man. I am quite happy with who I am. I'm not an extreme person. I like to have a beer, I know when I can and when I can't. if I've got stuff to do with the kids then don't have a hangover. It's quite simple.”
As well as Coronation Street and Hollyoaks, Will also appeared in EastEnders as Warren Stamp in 2007. A role in Emmerdale would give him a full house. Will laughed: “I'm not trying to do the full set, it's not Game of Thrones, I don't want all four corners of bleeding soap operas here!
“But I never say no or never. Especially after my dad passed away. I'm trying to do things now.
“I just realised what life is about. Life's about grabbing opportunities and just doing what makes you smile and what makes you happy.”
Vindaloo Two is out now and T-shirts are available at https://everpress.com/vindaloo
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