Hollyoaks: “Sienna will protect Nico, but the baby is a game changer” – Anna Passey teases what’s next

British Soap Awards nominee talks twists, fake deaths, Warren Fox and a frightening future

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Hollyoaks’ Sienna Blake has had quite the week – stalked and seemingly stabbed to death by her serial killer daughter Nico, who was thought to have perished 18 months ago in a fairground fire, turning up to her own funeral having faked her demise to trap Nico and stop her stealing baby son Sebastian only to see the kid snatched by her ex Warren Fox during a surprise return to the village, then discovering Nico is heavily pregnant…

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It’s no wonder all this drama has earned Anna Passey a place in the final five Best Actress nominees in this year’s British Soap Awards. As well as the recent catalogue of twists that have kept fans on their toes, fan favourite Sienna’s storylines this year have also included a heartbreaking cancer battle, going into labour with twins while being held hostage by their father, the aforementioned Mr Fox, and a doomed romance with Warren’s son Joel Dexter.

We caught up with Anna Passey to discuss her character’s tumultuous 12 months, and what could possibly happen next to damaged Sienna…

How did you feel about faking Sienna’s death?
I was nervous. There would’ve been nothing worse than killing her off and getting no reaction. I  genuinely wondered will Hollyoaks decide to leave it there and not bother with the comeback, like a really brutal popularity test! I knew it would get some reaction, but truly hand on heart I did not expect how huge it became. People were so sad and surprised the show had killed her, I had messages from fans filming themselves crying they were so distraught. I felt a bit bad knowing she wasn’t really gone, but it was touching. I felt like the character had done her job to get this strong reaction.

Did it make you think about leaving the show for real?
It actually made me think the opposite. You wonder sometimes have we told all her stories and gone as far as we can, but to see that reaction made me think there’s still so much mileage in the character so it made me excited for that. If it had been a lukewarm response it might’ve made me think it was time to hang up my Sienna shoes. It was reaffirming in lots of ways, and oddly a really nice experience.

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Were you in hiding during those few days where it seemed Sienna was dead?
Genuinely – I didn’t dare leave the house. I’d only told my mum the truth because I knew she would worry. Friends were messaging me and I didn’t dare admit anything I so desperately wanted to protect the twist. The show had told me to stay indoors and keep my mouth closed! I lied to everybody then had to apologise – I used to be a terrible liar but playing Sienna has made me quite good at it!

Are we going to see Warren again?
I never know when it comes to Jamie Lomas, I don’t think anybody does! Hollyoaks is such a part of Jamie and Warren is one of the biggest Hollyoaks characters of all time, so I don’t think it can ever be the end. He loves  coming back, Warren and Sienna is one of my favourite pairings so I always love him returning as it makes for a brilliant story. I’d love to find a way for them to be a couple again, although I can’t see it right now!

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How did you react when you heard Nico was back from the dead?
It was a big shock, I’d not even considered it as a possibility. And I mourned her for a really long time! But because Sienna is on her own quite a lot as she’s got no mates, it’s nice to have people to work with on these massive stories. The stuff we’ve been filming exploring their weird mother/daughter relationship is really exciting, the audience are going to love it.

Does Sienna plan to hide Nico from the police now she’s pregnant?
Yes, the baby is a game changer. After losing Sebastian, not getting Sophie back, faking her death and have everyone hate her, the pregnancy puts Sienna into a weird, manic, protective midwife role. She thinks being a mum will fix Nico. Sienna is not quite confronting the future and knows at some point Nico’s actions are going to catch up with her, but for the sake of her daughter’s soul she thinks having this baby will change her for the better so she protects her and helps her come to terms with parenthood. It’s an interesting dynamic.

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Patrick kept Sienna locked up while she was pregnant, has she turned into her dad?
She’s definitely in that role – same actions, different reasons. The Blake family go in these cycles, which attests to the amount of damage done by Patrick initially. They are in their own weird little Addams family world that is normal to them, but bonkers to anyone on the outside!

Will anyone discover Nico is in hiding?
They get some visitors to the flat – all of a sudden everyone wants to come round and there’s some excitement there, I wont say who the visitors are…

Where does Sienna go from here?
The only way I can describe it is we now see Sienna at her lowest, which I’ve said before but for the first time that statement is really true, there’s nothing else to lose and nowhere worse for her to go. In those times it’s make or break, and from that we’ll see a slightly unexpected side to Sienna. She’s also going to interact with Liberty when she returns, Sienna’s half-sister who has the same mum, Anna. She’s really funny and full of life which makes a great contrast between the two characters.

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Has it been difficult filming such emotionally-charged scenes?
When Sebastian was snatched, that really got me. We shot it in the middle of the day then seven hours later I got home, sat in the bath and burst out crying! It was so sad and the cruellest thing. It was harrowing and really stuck with me, even though I know it’s not real!

What’s been your highlight this year?
The cancer story got an amazing response and raised awareness, I hadn’t been in that position before with the character it was a different kind of storyline. Going for your pregnancy scan, finding out you’ve got cancer and everything that throws up – I met lots of interesting people who had been through it in real life and wanted to raise awareness. It was a challenging story but a personal highlight because of the feedback.

How do you feel about being shortlisted as Best Actress?
I don’t go in with any expectations, but I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to all the lovely people that have been voting so far, and going out of their way to do so!

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