Hollyoaks: Keith Rice reveals all on rapist Finn’s return

Diane visits her stepson in prison, but is he really a reformed character?

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Hollyoaks has revealed more details surrounding the return of Finn O’Connor. The character was involved in a controversial rape storyline in 2014 when he committed a sexual assault on his teacher John Paul McQueen, and also attempted to rape Nancy Osborne. He was jailed for his crimes.

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Earlier this week it was announced Finn would be rejoining the show, and in scenes airing tonight on E4, viewers will see Diane Hutchinson visit her incarcerated stepson following a series of suspicious phone conversations to a mystery caller. Finn has requested to see Diane as he is eligible for parole, and wants her help – but how has prison changed him? And what can we expect from his intriguing comeback?

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Keith Rice, reprising the role after an absence of two years, says that “prison has been a hell hole for Finn, and he’s determined to get out of there. He’s scared and needs someone to help him, and that’s when turns to Diane.”

Finn’s family were ripped apart by his atrocious actions, so it comes as something of a surprise that Diane is telling Finn down the phone how much she loves him and even agreeing to visit him in jail.

“The last time we saw them on screen together Finn was screaming ‘I hate you’ at his stepmum, so they’re both feeling quite anxious,” continues Rice. “In their first couple of moments together he worries about what they will both say. However, Finn understands she will always be there for him. He knows how to work Diane and thinks he’ll be able to win her round. There is still a mother and son connection between them.

“Diane is very maternal and somehow has the ability to look past everything does. Finn latches on to that.”

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The male rape plot is regarded as one of the darkest Hollyoaks’ storylines in recent years, but there was praise for the show for tackling the taboo topic and for James Sutton’s unflinching portrayal of rape survivor John Paul, who eventually reported the crime after months of silence. Rice’s chilling performance as the damaged, aggressive Finn made for unsettling viewing, so how does the actor feel about revisiting him?

“Everyone always says to me, ‘How can you play someone as vile as Finn?’ and actually I don’t’ know! It is challenging, but as an actor it’s very complex and I’ve always been interested in in the psychology of things. Finn is psychotic, but you just have to play both sides. He was a bully, and now he’s a little older and has been through a lot more whilst being inside, so there’s quite a big difference playing him this time around.”

As to fan reaction on the return, Rice is bracing himself: “You wonder how the audience will react and if they want to see Finn back on screen because of the horrific things he has done. But that’s kind of the risk you’ve got take, and the backlash – if any – for from viewers.

“Hollyoaks fans only want to see the best stuff on screen and the best storylines, but I think there’s has been a lot left untold and there are still some questions to be answered so we will see…”

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You can see Finn’s return tonight in E4’s first look episode of Hollyoaks at 7pm.