Menacing DI Mark Malone (Mark Womack) has made a big impact in Emmerdale. The crooked cop is one of the most dangerous baddies the village has seen in a while, and his unflinching intimidation of Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) shows this is a man who means business as he forces the mean and moody mechanic to be a part of his corrupt criminal empire.
This week the villain discovers Cain and accomplice Billy Fletcher tried to double cross him, by keeping hold of a bloodstained car he previously asked them to dispose of as leverage. Framing Billy for assault and offering him a terrifying ultimatum, fans will be now be poised for what Malone plans to do to Cain as their game of cat and mouse gets increasingly high-stakes.
RadioTimes.com spoke to Mark Womack about his first experience in soapland in which he dropped some intriguing hints that there is even more to his evil alter ego than meets the eye…
Why has Malone decided to stick around in the village?
After tracking down Will Taylor, who he knew from his gangster days, on the pretence of investigating rustlers at Butler's farm, Malone saw an opportunity to expand his criminal network. The village is quiet and rural and the people are easy to manipulate. Very quickly he managed to get everyone doing what he wanted.
Had he crossed paths with Cain before?
As a policeman he knows all about Cain and his past and has done his homework, and that's one of the reasons why he sees opportunities immediately. Plus Billy Fletcher has been in prison, Will is another ex-prisoner, they're all perfect for being part of Malone's empire.
What about Harriet Finch, who used to be an undercover cop?
They might know each other, yes… So far they haven't bumped into one another. There might be a connection there. Also, there is another reason Malone is in the village - which I'm not going to give away yet!
Are you enjoying playing a villain?
I love it, I've played a few in the past. He is menacing and laid-back, a bit of both. I tried to make him more charming to begin with, but it's pretty clear right away there's more to him than meets the eye. Especially in the scenes with Will, you see Malone can be really cruel. Villains tend to be good parts and this is a great one - he can be charming one minute and horrible the next. There's more meat on it, more to get into as an actor.
Is Malone underestimating Cain?
I think he's got Cain's number and is a match for him. Since Malone killed the bull that's when this chess game between them started, the battle began. Malone covered his tracks and was perfectly charming and friendly to Moira, but Cain knew what was really going on. We are definitely heading to a big face-off between Cain and Malone, I'll say that much. Although we're not quite there yet…
Could he try and seduce Moira in his vendetta against Cain?
He might! Thus far his relationship with Moira is very distant, but I could see that happening maybe, you never know. But not in the near future.
How are you settling in at Emmerdale?
It's a really nice place to work and everyone is so welcoming. I've never done continuing drama like this and it's really different. Jeff has taken me under his wing a bit, and I'd worked with Dean Andrews (Will) twice before, Buried and Clocking Off, so it's nice to see him again. I knew Katherine Dow Blyton (Harriet) from the stuff she'd done previously with Shane Meadows, there are so many good actors on the show.
Has your wife (Samantha Womack, formerly EastEnders' Ronnie Mitchell) given you any tips for being in a soap?
She's been helping me run lines, reading the first scripts she was like: 'This is a really good part!' I know the impact being in a soap can have, Sam was in EastEnders for 10 years and obviously got lots of attention. Emmerdale ranks really high in my career, I didn't really know what to expect having never done a soap but I'm really enjoying it.