Rapist Laurie Shelby's reign of terror is finally over in Hollyoaks, as the toxic teacher dropped dead of a head injury after trying to abduct his abused wife Sinead on Wednesday 7the August (E4 showing), bringing actor Kyle Pryor's nine month stint in the role to a explosive end.
The British-born former Home and Away star (he played Dr Nate Cooper for four years until 2017) made Laurie one of the show's most effective and impactful villains in some time, his charming, professional exterior hiding a twisted, controlling sociopath who abused his wife and sexually harassed colleague Sienna Blake.
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RadioTimes.com spoke to Pryor about playing the calculating, complex Laurie, tackling sensitive subjects and how he feels about being killed off.
Did you always know how Laurie’s story would end?
I knew the ending would be dramatic, whether that was a big jail sentence or being killed off. I expected something fairly severe but I think it’s a fitting end. As an actor, going out in such dramatic fashion was challenging and great to play as an actor.
How did you feel about him being killed off?
There is no hope for retribution for Laurie, he was a tortured and psychologically damaged individual. In his last episode he's the most desperate version of himself, trying to cling on to what he lost and willing to sacrifice everything to get it back. The way he is written out addresses everything and it was nice to round the character off in that way.
Was he remorseful for how he treated Sinead and Sienna?
Even at the point where he's sentenced to four years in prison he still sees himself as an innocent man and it’s a travesty of justice. Laurie always viewed Sinead as his possession, she belongs to him and he’ll do whatever he can to reclaim that. He cannot stand to be emasculated or in a disempowered position. When things started to break apart he felt utter frustration, and that he could somehow get his wife and back and they'd live happily ever after. It’s sociopathic.
Were you surprised Sinead tried to save his life when he collapsed?
Her instinct as a nurse kicked in, but as in life there's always complex psychological issues at play: when he collapses Sinead is in turmoil and knows this relationship was abusive and unhealthy and that he is a criminal, but there's still a part of her that remembers the redeeming qualities she once thought he had, and his idealistic view of what their marriage could’ve been. I don't think she wishes for Laurie's death but she wants to be as far away from this toxic relationship as possible.
What’s been the impact of playing such a villainous character?
The storyline dealt with a very sensitive subject matter that affects people in real life, and I understood the gravity of that. I hope I was able to do it justice in regards to raising awareness and encouraging anyone in an abusive situation to come forward. It was psychologically challenging tackling a character like this. I also liked that it was such a big departure from Nate the good guy in Home and Away.
Have you had a big reaction from the public?
I’ve grown quite a substantial beard since I stopped filming and have a good cap collection, so no one knows it's me when I'm out and about! The public have been complimentary on social media in regards to how the storyline has been handled and the characters have been portrayed, along with the great work Steph Davis, Anna Passey and Alex Fletcher did. It was a pleasure to act alongside all of them.
How do you think this experience will affect Sinead?
She’s had a lucky escape but this won't be something she can easily shake, it will leave an indelible mark on the psyche. My goal was to create a character that made a very strong, memorable impact on the community after he'd gone. Laurie will continue to be remembered and talked about - albeit not in a nice way!
Would you do another soap after Hollyoaks and Home and Away?
I take each part on a situational basis, but I think having played two very different characters in the same genre I would like to move in a slightly different direction now, just for a new challenge. But I'd never write anything off and I'm open to all opportunities. It all comes down to the role, if I connect with it and if it helps me grow as an actor. I always feel the right role comes for you at the right time.
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