Emmett J Scanlan
Emmett found fame as villain Brendan Brady in Hollyoaks
from 2010-2013, and has since appeared in hit BBC2 thriller The Fall and Netflix drama Safe.
In ITV’S new three-part drama Butterfly he stars as Stephen, the dad of a young boy who identifies as a girl…
What attracted you to the role of Stephen in Butterfly?
I read the scripts in one sitting. I thought this is so brave, it’s something I want to get my teeth into. It took less than a second for me to say ‘I’m in’.
Tell us a bit about the story…
It’s a family drama centred around 11-year-old Max, who’s trapped in the wrong body. It starts after Stephen has left the family home because he’s unable to understand why his only son wants to be girl. Stephen’s wife Vicky is more supportive of Max and understands what may be going on.
How does Stephen deal it?
He believes his son needs a proper role model, so he does stereotypical ‘manly’ things with him. He hopes what his son is going through is something he’ll grow out of. It isn’t until he finds out just how seriously unhappy his son really is that he realises it isn’t a phase.
Did you do any research about transgender children?
Anna Friel – who plays Vicky – and I went to the charity Mermaids, which supports transgender children and their families. It was absolutely incredible meeting these brave, remarkable parents and their children. I was shocked how young these kids were and what they went through. Three quarters of the transgender community self-harm and nearly half attempt suicide. It’s a horrific statistic.
As a dad yourself, did it make you think how you might react if you were in Stephen’s shoes?
There’s a great line in the show when Vicky says, ‘I’d rather have a daughter than a dead son,’ and that really resonated with me. Most parents just want their kids to be happy.
Do you think Butterfly will help to change how people see transgender people?
I hope it will answer some questions, beg more questions and make people want to know more. It’s an extraordinary piece of writing. I’m sure it will educate and raise awareness about a subject most of us don’t know too much about. Butterfly is on ITV, Sunday, 9pm
Emmett in Butterfly with Anna Friel as mum Vicky and Callum Booth-ford as Max