So far, Karl’s attempts to win back Stella (Michelle Collins) have been unsuccessful but, as next week’s events show, he’s not going to give up on the love of his life just yet. But after a proposition with flowers ends in recrimination, Karl makes a desperate move and kidnaps his ex. What will be the outcome for Stella? And how will Karl try to sabotage her new relationship with Jason (Ryan Thomas)? Actor John Michie reveals all:
How much does Karl blame himself for losing Stella and how much does he blame Sunita?
Karl blames Sunita. Full stop. He’s one of these guys who thinks the world owes him a living. And he thinks he’s a good guy who’s been tempted by a temptress who then did the dirty on him by deleting a text and seducing him. So he sees it as very black and white.
And how do you think he feels about Stella’s relationship with Jason?
He’s really jealous. Jason is the young, good looking, fit guy that Karl used to be when he was a professional footballer. And although he only lasted a couple of seasons at Oldham, he still has it in his head that he should have been the golden boy. So he sees Jason as the golden boy now and he’s consumed with jealousy and anger.
But does he still believe that Stella loves him – even though she rejected the pass he made?
Yes, he’s that arrogant and big headed that he absolutely believes that she still loves him and is trying not to love him.
So, tell us what happens when Stella climbs into Karl’s taxi?
He feels like he has to get her on her own and out of the familiar environs of the Street in order to talk to her. He wants her to see that, deep down, she knows that they should be together and he wants to do that in a calm, controlled way. He believes that taking her out of Manchester to the wasteland is the right thing to do to make her listen!
How emotional does he get about what’s happened in the past?
He does get a bit emotional, but he’s an interesting character because he’s full of self-belief even though he’s a total failure, so he believes that he will genuinely be able to do this. He will not take no for an answer and he starts to become a little obsessive – more obsessive than he thinks he is. His behaviour gets a bit weird and creepy, but he just cannot see it. There’s almost something a bit psychotic in his behaviour towards Stella, but he can only see one side of it all.
Eventually, they do return to the Street and Stella’s really furious. She insists that it’s over, but does Karl accept that?
No. He just thinks he’ll let her have her say and let her calm down before he starts on again at her! Really, he knows she wants to be with him. To him it’s just a question of time. He needs to break her down and get rid of Jason by making her see that Jason is a waste of space. Then they can be together.
Gloria then comes to his defence. Why does she do this?
Well, Karl and Gloria have always got on well. And although Karl is a bit of a mess, he’s also a smart guy. He’s always managed to get along with the mother-in-law of every girl he’s gone out with because he knows that that’s basically the way for men to get round women.
Also, he and Gloria are two of a kind in a way. They both think the world owes them a living and they both have high opinions of themselves and their abilities despite constantly messing up. They feel allied in that way. Our backstory is that they’ve always been close and it really upsets Gloria when she realises Karl has not been very nice. But she’s very quick to come back on his side at the slightest opportunity.
So what kind of welcome is Karl expecting when he turns up at the Rovers after the kidnap?
He’s not stupid. He knows there’s going to be some kind of reaction. But he thinks he’ll be able to charm his way out of it. Unfortunately, Jason is there and he’s the one person who has the ability to make Karl lose control. He just can’t control his anger or jealousy when he’s around. If Jason hadn’t been there, Karl would have been fine.
How does he feel when he realises Sunita is watching his downfall and enjoying what she sees?
He despises her. He blames her entirely and vows to make her pay.
But what is it that’s making him behave in that way? Is it love for Stella or obsession?
His love is obsessive, yet he certainly sees it as love anyway. He can’t see how weird it is.
What makes him decide to then go and sabotage Jason’s van?
It’s not just about getting his own back. Jason’s a builder so without a van he won’t be able to do a great deal. He wants Jason to fail as the boyfriend, so it’s vindictive and nasty and there’s a definite plan. Karl rarely does things without thinking because he’s clever but he still always manages to ruin it all by making the wrong decisions.
Stella refuses to believe Jason when he says that Karl was behind the burnt van. Does Karl feel quite smug about that?
Yes, he certainly thinks he’s done a good job. He’s quite proud of his plan and how he took the van, where he blew it up and the fact that nobody saw anything. He gets a bit of a thrill out of that sort of devious behaviour. So, yes, he’s feeling slightly smug, although I do try to downplay that a little bit as actually all he wants is to see Jason fail. That’s his main motivation. He will do whatever it takes to take Stella back. He will go to the extremes.
Are you excited by the villainous turn your character is taking?
I am, actually. It’s always interesting to play the bad guy. He’s not essentially evil, he just gets caught up in situations. Events then take over and he has to deal with the consequences. Initially, he has a plan and a calculation but it all goes horribly wrong, and then he has to catch up with the events. It’s the events themselves that turn him bad – deep down he isn’t a bad person, he’s just obsessed and in love. The best thing for Karl would be to leave Stella alone and not be with her.
Are you bracing yourself for getting told off in public when Karl does something bad on screen?
I’ve already had a bit, back when Karl cheated on Stella with Sunita. So I am prepared for it. But I’ve got a good disguise!
There are rumours that Sunita might be killed off – do you think Karl will grieve for her?
There’s no love lost for Sunita, but he would feel real concern for her children. Although he wasn’t very nice to them, he did get quite close to them, and he was a bit of a surrogate dad to them for a while. He does quite like them really, so the thought of them not having a mum would probably be the worst thing for him.
And if you personally could give Stella advice, would you tell her to get back with Karl?
I would say do not go anywhere near him!