Hollyoaks’ Anna Passey says strange Covid filming tricks include mannequins in make-up

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We know and love (or sometimes love to hate) their characters on screen, but now it’s time to discover all the behind-the-scenes secrets from our favourite soap stars.

In our exclusive interview series, Soap Stars Coming Clean, OK! will be finding out all the juicy gossip about what happens when the cameras stop rolling, as well as the actors’ favourite memories with their co-stars so far.

We caught up with Hollyoaks star Anna Passey, who plays Sienna Blake, to chat about her whirlwind ten years on the show, the weird and wonderful filming techniques that show’s adopted during covid, and her most embarrassing fan experience.

What do you always have in your dressing room?

Snacks, and bags and bags of coffee. I always have nuts here because it’s so tempting to eat biscuits all day. Literally, in every room at Lime Pictures, there’s a box of biscuits. I also have cheese and crackers, which sounds really fancy, but they’re always a good onset snack.

Who’s the messiest member of the cast?

Tamara Wall [who plays Grace], 100%. She won’t mind me saying it, she’s completely messy, chaotic! However, she’s always the person you’ll go to first if you need a phone charger, or a nail file, or something like that. She’ll have it somewhere.

Who’s your funniest co-star?

Jacob Roberts [who plays Damon] makes me laugh a lot, he’s very funny. As is Rory Douglas-Speed [who plays Joel]. It’s really hard to keep a straight face with them two, sometimes it’s quite a challenge. Sometimes I go home with aching abs from being so happy.

What’s the best night out you’ve had with your co-stars?

I’m actually just looking at a picture of one of the British Soap Awards where we won Best Soap, I’d won Best Villain and Jeremy Sheffield [who played Patrick] won an award too. That was probably the best night out we’ve had. We often go to those awards thinking that it’s lovely to be nominated but a lot of the other shows are perhaps bigger than we are, so we don’t necessarily expect to win lots of awards. But on that particular night we did really well, so I think that we owed it a big night afterwards.

Who are you closest to from the cast?

Jess Fox [who plays Nancy] is my closest friend and Tam too. We’re a unit the three of us. Jess welcomed me to the show when I first joined and I didn’t know what I was doing, she really helped me out and was very kind and invited me round. Since then, I haven’t really left so she’s my best friend – she’s always got good advice, she’ll always cook you a good meal, and she’s always got wine!

Which celebrity would you like to see doing a guest role?

Ricky Gervais. I think he would fit in quite well in the village and we would all have a very nice time working with him. I think he’s amazing. Right from the first series of The Office, I’ve never seen anything like it. And everything he’s done since then has been really funny.

If your character could have a romance with anyone in Hollyoaks, who would you like it to be?

I’m going to say Leela because after the Summer and Sienna foray, I feel like I’ve got new options. Leela and Sienna are good friends and get on very well, so I think they’d make a good couple.

If you could play anyone else, who would you be?

Probably James. I love how dry he is, he’s so sour and serious, and I think I would be able to take that from Sienna into that character quite nicely.

What’s the funniest fan encounter you’ve had?

These days, I just get really lovely interactions of people who are enjoying the show and love the storylines. But the best fan interaction was when I was in my first year and I was homewrecking Darren and Nancy. I didn’t have a car in Liverpool because I’d just moved from London, so I’d gone on a really unexpectedly long walk to find the Asda. I finally got there and started to do my shopping and then a lady recognised me and started shouting ‘homewrecker’ at me. I was so embarrassed and not used to it – everyone was looking. Obviously, other people might not have known it wasn’t real, so I just put my shopping basket down and left. I had a long walk back empty-handed!

Do you ever go out in disguise to stop people recognising you?

I actually had a cap on that day [in Asda] as well! If it’s a day off and I’ve got makeup on and my hair is tied up then I’m always amazed that people recognise me because I look so different.

What’s the strangest filming technique you’ve used during covid?

I feel like I’ve had all of the strange things! We’ve been very fortunate in that my real-life other half [Kyle Pryor] can double for Brody and Warren. So, for the most part, we’ve done straightforward body doubling and that’s worked pretty well. But obviously, he couldn’t double Summer, so at that junction, we had to have variations of mannequins. In one kiss scene, we ended up with mannequins that had painted on faces and makeup on. We also had green screen floating heads and had to bring in a real-life couple to double us too.

If you could choose another soap to star in, which would it be?

It would be very fun to be in Emmerdale purely based on the fact that I know they have animals and I’m a big animal lover. So if I was in Emmerdale I could perhaps handle apony or something. We don’t really have any pets here so I would definitely enjoy playing on the farm.

Finally, if you weren’t an actor, what would you be doing?

I just wanted to do acting. My mum was not behind the idea, so we made a deal that I’d go to University and get what she deemed a ‘sensible’ degree first, and then I’d be allowed to pursue this. But it was always what I wanted to do.

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Catch Hollyoaks weeknights on Channel 4 at 6.30pm

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