Hollyoaks star reveals all on 'terrifyingly relevant' Eric Foster storyline

Hollyoaks has kicked off a brand new storyline tackling radical misogyny, with newcomer Eric Foster (Angus Castle-Doughty) at the very centre.

Eric, as viewers know, has exhibited some extremely concerning behaviour since rocking up in the eponymous village.

After reconnecting with sister Verity (Eva O’Hara), he moved into The Dog with the Hutchinson clan, claiming that he was kicked out of his flat share after the other tenants bullied him.

This, however, was later proven to be a lie, after he was seen reading a ‘termination of tenancy’ email, with the sender stating that he exhibited ‘inappropriate’, and ‘unacceptable’ behaviour.

Eric has since locked Joel Dexter (Rory Douglas-Speed) up in a bid to split him and Cleo McQueen (Nadine Mulkerrin), branding them both ‘pointless people; during a heated showdown with Verity.

His thoughts on the world were revealed in Wednesday’s (May 11) edition of the Channel 4 soap, as he retreated to his caravan to access a male online forum, where he ranted, claiming that society is set up so that someone like him can ‘never succeed’ or ‘have sex.’

His desire, he made quite clear, was to make people ‘understand’ his way of thinking, as he wrote down his thoughts in the disturbing scenes.

Ahead of Thursday’s (May 12) edition of the show, which sheds a bit more light on the story following the previous episode, Metro.co.uk caught up with actor Angus Doughty-Castle, who plays Eric so wonderfully, to discuss all-things Eric.

How did you react when you knew this was the story Eric would be a part of?

I was pretty fascinated from the moment the audition came through, to be honest. The sub-culture that Eric is involved in is something that I’d had a peripheral awareness of, but once I knew this was the plan, I wanted to throw myself into it and learn as much as possible before saying one line as the character.

My first reaction was to find out the “why” of it all, and it’s as shocking as it is pervasive in society today. With that I’ve felt an enormous responsibility from day one to help tell this story with as much care and sensitivity as possible, and that means doing your homework.  

Have you done any research on this? Is it important for Hollyoaks to shine a light on what is scarily a prominent issue?

Without exception this is the most research I’ve ever done on a role. I think approaching a topic like this from a single perspective is dangerous, so I read several books (some even written by radical misogynists themselves), listened to podcasts and tried to consume as much media as possible before starting my character work.

Like you say, in my opinion this is a terrifyingly relevant issue that percolates through every facet of our world today, and one that we have been too quick (and too easy) to disregard. It’s vital this storyline is explored and listened to, because we have a responsibility to educate, challenge and learn from the things we are exploring, rather than “other” this subculture as a way of avoiding the conversation. 

Is playing this story somewhat intimidating? It must be a difficult mindset to get yourself in!

I think the most challenging thing has been approaching Eric with empathy, as you have to with all characters. It’s important because otherwise you shut them out and play an inauthentic version of the character that doesn’t encourage the audience to listen. Hence why I started with the “why”, I have such opposing views to the man that finding the emotional similarities (isolation, not feeling heard etc) was the way in. 

Is it fair to say Eric has an invulnerability complex?

I think it’s the complete opposite; he feels incredibly vulnerable, fundamentally scared and ultimately ignored. The world around him has changed to such an extent that he can’t compute it, and the very real fear or anxieties he feels have been engaged with by the wrong people, so he’s been led down this path. He didn’t start there. 

What kind of reaction are you prepared for from fans? Is it the hope that they will become aware of what radical misogyny is?

The audience reaction so far has been brilliant, you want people to react because it means they’re engaging with the material.

More than an awareness of radical misogyny I hope that we recognise the importance of grabbing young men and boys, educating an engaging with them before they slip into a rabbit hole it’s very difficult to come out of. 

You’ve had some incredibly intense and brilliant scenes with Eva who plays Verity – can we expect more of these scenes as Verity grows more suspicious of her brother?

I hope so! It’s an absolute honour to work with Eva every day.

Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 7pm on E4, or stream new episodes first on All4.

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