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Thread: Jonny Labey as Rex

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    Jonny Labey as Rex

    Hollyoaks has officially confirmed the casting of former EastEnders star Jonny Labey.

    The actor has landed the role of newcomer Rex, who'll make his first appearance on the Channel 4 soap next week working with Ste and Warren.

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    he has history also with hannah

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    Hollyoaks welcomes in a new villain this month as former EastEnders star Jonny Labey takes on the role of bad boy Rex.

    Rex is introduced as a new rival for established gangster Warren Fox, jeopardising his ongoing dodgy dealings with Ste Hay.

    Digital Spy recently caught up with Jonny for some early gossip on what's in store.

    How did the role come about?

    "I had an audition for Hollyoaks a couple of years back, but I think something else came up. I know that characters were being developed and what they've come up with for Rex is terrifying but also brilliant! It's something I can really sink my teeth into.

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    "For the audition, I really had some fun and played around with just being the bad guy. It's a nice new flavour for me. I was really pleased when I got the part. It's a gift, because every actor wants these sorts of roles.

    "I'm literally in love with Liverpool, where the show is filmed. I'm moving up here now, so it's all happening at the moment."

    We've heard that you have quite a dramatic debut?

    "Honestly, since I've started, there's been a stunt coordinator involved in pretty much every scene! So I feel like an evil Ryan Gosling at the minute. It feels like a part Marvel film, part soap.

    "But Hollyoaks has got that feel to it. If all of the other soaps are more of a soap opera, then Hollyoaks definitely is more of a rock concert. Charlie [Clapham, who plays Freddie] said that to me and I couldn't agree more. The show is fast-paced, and there are changes and madness happening behind the scenes, but it's great on set.

    "I've got a lot of scenes with Kieron [Richardson, who plays Ste] and Jamie [Lomas, who plays Warren]. I feel like I'm in really safe hands and I can have a lot of fun."

    How was Rex first described to you?

    "I think it was along the lines of 'mad, bad and dangerous'! Rex is coming in as this new force in the village and he doesn't mess around ? he's here to rock the boat.

    "They gave me a description about Rex's past, where he's come from, the circles he's lived in and the crime ring he's involved in. Rex's hunger for status and power means that he holds no prisoners and he goes straight for the jugular.

    "As soon as he's in, he's getting involved. It's really fun because he's the polar opposite to my own character and it keeps me on my toes."

    Have there been surprises for you as new scripts have come in?

    "Honestly, as you'll probably know in the soap world, every turn of the corner is a surprise. It's every turn of the script, let alone a whole new block of episodes.

    "All the stuff I've been doing is so electric. I'm talking to you with a bit of a husky voice because I was shouting for all of yesterday. I had two stunts and I was screaming my head off in this scene that I can't talk to you about.

    "Because Rex is such an unpredictable character, each new script that I get to do is a challenge. You just never know what's going to happen."

    We first hear about Rex when Warren mentions him as a fellow criminal in the gangster world. Can you tell us about those first scenes?

    "It's very much a territorial thing. Rex and Warren are from the same world, so it's to do with figuring out who's the main guy to go towards. Rex is causing a bit of trouble and he arrives with two henchmen. I've got my boys with me, so we rock up to Chester and then we get things spiced up a little bit.

    "There are a lot of confrontations. People are very unaware of Rex's intentions and what he wants to do. It's up in the air, but Rex is going to roll straight into it. A lot of the initial scenes are quite harrowing."

    Most characters in the show are scared of Warren. Is it fun to play someone who stands up to him?

    "As Rex, yeah he loves it! As Jonny, it's a whole switch of my personality. Doing a scene with Jamie, he just embodies that role. He's also a lot bigger than me, so it's squaring up to a guy who's got that rugby physique ? he's working out at the minute and he's looking good. So squaring up to him is a bit of a gulp in the throat!

    "But as Rex, I'm embodying that character, who has a crazed look in his eyes. That confrontation is something that he thrives on. Instead of backing away, he leans into it. It's something that I'm getting used to."

    Can you tell us about Rex's relationship with Ste?

    "It's such a turbulent one. Ste's character is someone who is really intrigued by Rex. They have some flirty scenes as well ? and then there's a twist in that relationship. Again, you never really know what Rex's intentions are and what he's after.

    "I know that the relationship with Ste has a future. It starts off like these guys are going to kill each other, but then the layers start peeling. So that's really exciting and working with Kieron has been great.

    "It's never quite as simple as things seem at first, it's never that easy. Rex is such a complicated character so we've had some great scenes, some powerful ones and a lot of them very angry! It's very conniving, and there are a lot of twists and turns."

    Who else are you working closely with?

    "I did a load of scenes with Emma Rigby as well. There's involvement between Rex and her character Hannah. It was nice to have a link to another character on the show.

    "Watching the first episodes, I think my mum's going to be cowering behind the pillow, she's not going to recognise me at all! A lot of what Hannah is involved with, like her being a sex worker, involves Rex. That kicks off the entrance of Rex in the show."

    If you're moving up to Liverpool, does that mean you're sticking around in the show?

    "I won't be able to say! But I just love Liverpool so much. I think it was an excuse to find somewhere else in the UK.

    "I'm still very much based in London with my girlfriend, but we've got two bases now. We've got a little base in London and a little base in Liverpool now. An opportunity has opened, let's just put it that way."

    Are you still in touch with any of your EastEnders co-stars?

    "I'm going to see Lin [Blakley, who played Pam] next month in her play at The National. I'm very much in touch with Danny-Boy [Hatchard, who played Lee] ? he's just come off his tour in The Full Monty.

    "With Harry Reid [who played Ben Mitchell], it's the ever-chased quest to get some time with that guy ? he's always so busy doing other stuff and I love him to bits. We've both been doing that 'crossed paths' thing of trying to organise a pint! So we stay in touch too.

    "Lin is such a wonderful lady and Roger [Sloman, who played Les]. I think when you do a show like that and it brings you together as a family, it genuinely happens and people don't necessarily realise that.

    "Soaps have that beautiful thing where you join an on-screen family. It's quicker than if you were meeting a new friend, for example. I was playing someone's grandson, so we very much took on that role as a family. I feel like Lin and Roger's adopted grandson in real life."

    How do you look back on EastEnders and your character Paul's tragic exit in a homophobic hate crime?

    "It was a storyline that I still get recognised for today. It's still very much in my life. It's still a topic that is discussed and something that needs to be addressed.

    "I'm interested in the reaction now that I've joined Hollyoaks. In the past, I've literally had people running up and hugging me saying 'thank God you're alive!'

    "Now playing Rex, it'll be interesting to see the stark difference of what that's going to be like with the public. I'm excited for them to see a different side of me."

    What else have you been working on?

    "I've directed my first short film. I managed to do that before starting Hollyoaks. I'm releasing a load of music as well, which will be out over the summer.

    "There's so many things and projects over the years that I've been trying to figure out and get off the ground. Making films was always a big one for me. It's about my own story with mental health and about my time working in an ice cream van! It's called We All Scream."

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