After more than a decade, Sean Slater (Rob Kazinsky) is back in EastEnders to make amends with mum Jean Slater (Gillian Wright) as she reels from her cancer diagnosis.
Last seen on New Year’s Day 2009 crawling out of an icy lake after kidnapping wife Roxy Mitchell and her baby daughter Amy, he’s been on the run all this time until Stacey Fowler (Lacey Turner) contacted her volatile big brother to tell him the upsetting news about their mother’s health.
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Following his brief first appearance on Friday 26th April, Sean’s return dominates the week commencing Monday 29th April as he reconnects with Jean, Stacey, old enemy Jack and ex-girlfriend Ruby Allen (Louisa Lytton) who he tried to con out of her inheritence from gangster dad Johnny. A huge revelation to Jean brings his brief return to a shocking climax on Friday 3rd May as he ends up putting his mother in a dangerous situation and Stacey must dash to the rescue…
Kazinsky has carved out a successful post-EastEnders career in US movies and TV, including roles in Pacific Rim and True Blood, so what persuaded him to reprise the role that gave him his big break? RadioTimes.com asks the man himself…
How does it feel coming back to EastEnders after more than 10 years?
It doesn’t’ feel like 10 years, it feels like home. I was very excited to come back but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have. So many of my old friends are still here, the people that I grew up working with. I was 21 when I joined and they were my family.
Why was now the right time to return?
Every few years I’ve had a phone call from EastEnders saying ‘What about this year?’ and I always said no. I wanted to come back and give Sean the send-off he deserved. This year I got the call and I thought it’s been a decade and if ever there’s a time for me to come back then this is probably it. So I spoke about storylines to the boss Kate Oates, who is literally the most convincing person I’ve ever met in my entire life!
What was the reaction to news of Sean’s comeback?
Surprisingly positive, I don’t think anyone expected me to actually come back. I’ve been very lucky since I’ve left that I’ve worked with some of the most talented people, and yet I guarantee you that 99% of them couldn’t do this job. I’ve always been very appreciative of what EastEnders has done for me and I’ve never thought of it as a stepping stone. Great drama is great drama no matter where it is and EastEnders is on standard with anything else out there.
Does Sean come back because of Jean’s cancer diagnosis?
Jean’s cancer is the catalyst for Sean to return. He’s spent his life running away from his problems and when he finds out Jean could be dying he knows he can’t run anymore. He knows he might only have a short period of time where he could tell her the things he was always too afraid to say. Sean has been hiding out for 10 years, he’s terrified and has refused to put down roots. Sean comes back to make peace so that if Jean does die she knows everything, she knows the truth.
How did it feel to be reunited with Gillian Wright for such emotional scenes?
Absolutely humbling. I’m used to doing a scene a day, maybe two on movies – we’re doing 22 pages of dialogue here, and Gillian knows it all by heart and delivers every time. I haven’t worked like that for over a decade and I just felt like an absolute amateur with her, and with Lacey (Turner) and Scott (Maslen) and with everyone else.
Who did you work with this time that you didn’t before?
I never actually worked with Jessie (Wallace) the last time. I met her once before and we talked about our characters, who obviously grew up together and we have a huge family history, but this is the first time we’ve had scenes together. It would have been brilliant to do more with her but as I’m back for such a short amount of time we couldn’t. And I would have loved more with Ruby too, I wanted desperately for Sean to realise what he did to Johnny Allen was wrong and say sorry.
Was it easy to slip back into character?
It was, I did watch some videos! The hardest part was his accent again because I’m not naturally cockney. Once I started working with Gillian and Lacey again I got right back in the groove, it felt so familiar.
Sean is hiding a big secret, what can you tell us about that?
When Sean left there were a lot of questions unanswered – this time I said to Kate if I never come back and I never reprise Sean again, let’s leave no questions unanswered. Let’s tell all the secrets.
What is Sean and Jack’s meeting like, considering their bad blood?
Yes, they come face to face which evolved a lot from what initially was antagonistic to something much more important. It started out as just a fight, but the truth is that the only person who understands Sean is Jack. They share more things than either of them would ever admit, they both love Amy, they both lost the love of their life, and they never got to mourn.
Is this the last time we’ll see Sean?
I don’t know. I thought I’d never come back, yet here I am and I’ve enjoyed every single second. I’m not sure what more there would be for Sean, but as long as Stacey and the Slaters are there, there’s always a reason for him to return but you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Never say never…
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