Leon's Interviews



Leon Ockenden on the explosive climax to his character’s terrifying stalking campaign against Michelle Connor

  • Daily Mail Weekend Magazine
  • 2 Sep 2017
  • Tom Latchem

What a difference a year makes. When we first met Will Chatterton he was a clean- cut architect planning his wedding. But after dumping his fiancée for a doomed fling with his first love Michelle Connor, he’s turned into a deranged stalker.Will, it seems, will do anything to win Michelle back. He recently drugged and kidnapped her and this week he plants drugs on her boyfriend Robert hoping he’ll be arrested and Michelle will leave him.It’s a dramatic change of character for Will, but one that’s thrilled Leon Ockenden, who plays him. ‘I prefer playing unhinged Will,’ says Leon. ‘It’s always more fun; I mean, you don’t want to be James Bond, do you? You want to be a Bond villain!’Will returned to the Street this summer to date Maria Sutherland and help Robert revamp the bistro. But, says Leon, they were excuses to get closer to Michelle and it’s all heading to an explosive finale. ‘In every scene the audience will be shouting at Michelle and Robert, “Can’t you see what he’s doing?” I can’t reveal too much, but the story reaches a fitting climax and there’s no going back for Will.’Leon, 39, who grew up in Cornwall, trained as a pastry chef but got fed up and began acting. ‘I won awards for my hot cross buns, but being a commercial chef is horrible. I was overworked and underpaid, so I left, and ran away from the London Hilton on Park Lane, leaving them with a banquet for 500 that I’d done nothing for.’Having fled to Amsterdam, where he washed dishes in a prison kitchen, Leon had a lightbulb moment while watching the movie Titanic. ‘I was crying, thinking I wanted to be Leonardo DiCaprio.’ He signed up for anacting course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and roles in Casualty, New Tricks, Waterloo Road and Mr Selfridge followed, before Corrie came calling last year.Despite all the deranged things his character’s been doing to Michelle, Leon says he’s not worried about being targeted by fans upset over Will’s behaviour. ‘I’m glad I won’t be doing the school run when all this kicks off,’ laughs the married dad-of-one, who’s just setting off on a tour of Alan Ayckbourn’s play How The Other HalfLoves. ‘And I’m growing a moustache and changing my hairstyle for the part, so people won’t recognise me!’Unfortunately the tour means spending even more time away from his actress wife Vanessa and their five-year-old daughter Lyla, who live in London. ‘It’ll be tough; we’ve already planned when they can come and see me, and I’ll be doing a lot of late-night driving so I can get home to see them. But I’m earning money, so I can’t complain.’