Roy has always struggled when it comes to understanding other people but can his relationship with Carla be the key to getting her the help she needs? David Neilson reflects on 24 years with Mr Cropper and hints at what's to come.
Why did Roy react so strongly to what a lot of people simply saw as Carla trying to look out for a friend?
Rationalising it from Roy’s point of view, he gets through life by having very strong rigid principles and somebody like Carla can bend him a little on minor things, but when it is something serious and someone could have died, then someone should be held to account - even if it is him. He also felt like he was being used, that there was something going on between Carla and Abi and Peter and that is a world that Roy just does not understand. It was a defensive thing in the end, he didn’t behave well, everyone thinks Roy is lovely, that he will always be nice but he said things that are hard to take back. He is flawed when his rules or structures, the way that he gets through life, is broken down. He struggles, that is his coping mechanism. He has to tell the truth because he is ok with that, but once you get into grey areas and emotions he struggles.
Following on so soon from Carla lying about the fire and trying to cover up for him, and knowing how he felt about that, how angry was he when she discovered she had lied again?
That was even worse, it resulted in someone dying and was beyond the pale. It is very black and white for him and he can’t really deal with it, so he did a runner to Portsmouth believing very much that it would all be sorted out and have settled down when he returned. He needs to clear his head, he is not perfect, we see real flashes of anger and different sides to him.
As an actor that is great to play and I love the audience getting upset about it as it means they are invested.
What was it like doing those scenes when he got so angry with Carla?
It is great, I love working with Ali and Chris they are amazing and have been brilliant throughout this storyline.
Does Roy consider relationships important?
Yes he does, he might not know why but he feels very close to Carla. Also when his mother died he thinks he can put that in a box and just walk away from it, but he can’t. He is going through this bereavement and mourning someone he actually hated quite often, his mother was cruel and unpleasant and now it can't be resolved. A lot of arguments happen due to other factors and this is the case with Roy too, he is behaving in a volatile way for lots of reasons.
So this week he returns from Portsmouth and is unaware that Carla has gone missing until he arrives back?
Well yes, Roy doesn’t have a mobile phone so when he was away he was out of contact. He feels responsible, he has been away for three weeks and he thought when he came back it would have all moved on, but actually it has escalated and she is not well. That is very different from someone behaving badly.
Roy would identify and sympathise with that and he does know he has behaved badly. Bad people do good things and good people do bad things, that is the way life is.
What happens when he finds her?
He goes with Johnny and they search the hotel that she was in and they find she has not been taking her medication. They leave but they are not aware that they have been observed by her, she has been listening to what they are saying. She hears Johnny saying something and she interprets negative things from Johnny and hears positive things from Roy. She therefore feels safe with him, so she goes to his flat and she is there when he gets back.
Does Roy think he can get through to her?
She starts asking after Aidan and he realises just how poorly she is. He is shocked and he is out of his depth, anybody would be and he knows she needs professional help. After that she pins a lot of blame on Roy.
How will this affect their relationship moving forward?
There is a long way to go, it is a relationship that works, so a relationship of some form will continue but she has gone through great trauma so it may take some time.
How did he feel when Wayne returned?
It is the past coming back. Initially because it is a connection with Hayley and he is surrogate son to some extent and he has turned out well he is very pleased to see him. And then his past starts to impinge on the present and on his relationship with Carla.
At the same time he has got this mystery with the ring he found and the inscription which led to some lighter scenes with Brian, Roy and Wayne, have you enjoyed that?
With Peter Gunn around there is no choice but to have fun. The thing I like about playing this character is that you get the whole range of stuff to do and even with the ring as he starts to find things out it is very moving and beautifully written.
Do you still enjoy playing Roy after 24 years?
I do yes, it feels like the strangest thing to do, we have one time on this planet and I have spent most of it playing someone else. But it is very nice that he has this big history now of 24 years that the writers and I can play with and I enjoy that now in a different way. I want to ensure people keep believing that the character has integrity, he could do anything but it has to be consistent with who he is and how things have shaped him and it has been very interesting to play. The writing has been very good and I also get stretched with some stories. That is what you get with a soap where things are seen in real time and you go on the journey with that character.
Do you enjoy the friendships he has?
Yes, they all bring something different. He has Mary, Brian and Cathy, his prickly friendship with Evelyn and he looks up to Ken, he is such a snob where Ken is concerned. Then he has had his friendships with Fiz, Becky, Shona and of course Carla. That is the core of his being and his relationship with Hayley taught him to see the good in those slightly damaged individuals.
I think it is right that he hasn’t had a successful romantic relationship since Hayley though, he almost had that with Cathy but he knew it wasn’t right.
Where is the strangest place you have been recognised?
I don’t get recognised as much as some other people, I have walked past people before they realise who I am. I wear glasses and often a hat, I live in London where people don’t tend to stop you, they do more in Manchester but the strangest place was Nepal. My son was out there on a gap year about 20 years ago and I was in a restaurant with him, it suddenly went very quiet and all the staff were looking at me. It transpired that the restaurant owner’s daughter had been studying in Sussex and watched the show to help her learn English. She was very home sick but found real comfort in watching this Coronation Street community and their stories. She was very shocked to see Roy Cropper sitting in her dad’s restaurant!