Has prison given Harvey the chance to reflect and maybe feel remorse, or has he got his own secret agenda when he finally agrees to meet Sam?
There’s more to it than that, at first he pretends he’s not read Sam’s letters, but I think some of what he’s said has hit home a bit. Then when he sees him it’s like having a session with a psychiatrist and Sam starts touching a few nerves. Nobody talks to Harvey like this but he asks questions of him and makes him look at himself a little bit. He starts to feel I might owe it to this kid, to give him the time. Also, he wants to stop the letters because I think they’re affecting him. In prison you need to get stuff out of your mind, you can’t be weak, he has a reputation as this guy. But then Sam is pushing to find out why Harvey is the way he is and I think some of what he’s saying is right, no one is just evil or born bad. I think he has his reasons behind why Harvey is the way he is and Sam is asking questions of him
What does Harvey make of Sam, has he underestimated him because he’s very eloquent and he’s pushing Harvey out of his comfort zone?
100%, at first he can’t even look at him when Sam comes in because I think it’s a reality check, he killed his mum. He just wants it over and done with then Sam will leave him alone. He wants to put a lid on it now but it doesn’t go to plan because Harvey starts to crack under the pressure of a little boy. Sam is very intelligent and it’s actually Harvey who starts to crack and snaps and gets angry. Sam points out he’s not the one who’s upset here, he’s looking at this little kid going nobody talks to me like that. But he’s struck a nerve and Harvey’s the one who storms off. He tells him not to come and see him again, he’s angry because he’s woke up all the emotions that Harvey’s buried deep about his own mum who he lost when he was younger. He’s still angry, but he’s buried these emotions because they make him weak.
Sam has this theory that the death of Harvey’s mum is when things started to go wrong for Harvey, what do you know of his backstory?
He didn’t have anything, his mum died and I think he grew up with not much love. He found his way on the street, got in with the wrong crowd and realised I’m a somebody here. Probably all he wanted was a bit of love and attention and care, like any kid, and then if you end up being on the wrong side of the street, with crime and drugs and no-one caring, this crowd became his shield, his barrier. These people groom kids, he was groomed himself and he ended up becoming one of them.
As an actor have you found playing these scenes a lot more challenging than just seeing Harvey throwing his weight around?
I love playing Harvey, every character should have layers, I never wanted to be two dimensional, I wanted to show there’s more that you don’t know about him. He has an underbelly, it’s just that nobody gets to see it other things for the first time, this is the first time you’re going to see a few cracks appear and it’s little Sam who’s brought that out of him because he can’t take the pressure and at some point the lid’s got to blow off. Harvey’s in his own pressure cooker in prison and he can’t look weak. But it just gets too much for him, the memories of his mum, the memories of growing up, what he’s done to this kid and it all spills over.
Do you think viewers might feel sympathetic towards Harvey at all?
Maybe yes, I mean he’s a horrible person but like Sam says there’s a reason for it, he’s going through something to be given out this much hate. Bullies are usually bullied themselves, coming from a home without much love and there’s a reason why they’re lashing out. There’s a reason and he’s just buried it deep but Sam brings it to the surface.
Is Harvey capable of redemption?
Harvey was at the top of the chain but there’s probably somebody higher than him, there’s always someone bigger. I think Harvey might be lost but at the same time it’s not over, maybe there’s something he can do for Sam to make sure he doesn’t suffer like he did. He’s in prison for the rest of his life but it’s what he does with the time he’s got left, although that doesn’t mean he’s not going to seize an opportunity if it comes his way because that’s how he is. So don’t expect him to suddenly become this beautiful, nice person. He might try to help Sam out but at the same time if he sees an opening then that’s business. If he sees an opportunity he’ll take it and if Nick takes anything from him he’ll be in Harvey’s back pocket and you don’t want to be there.
As you see the character being fleshed out more and being made a bit more human, do you think he could be made long term?
I don’t want Harvey to suddenly get out of prison and be running the Rovers Return, what I want is for Harvey to be real and a message to go out there that there are people like this, grooming kids, who don’t care about them or their families. There is a reason why he is as he is, I’ve enjoyed playing this story and humanising him but it’s also an important message to look out for these kids and I don’t want to weaken that.
What’s it like working with Jude?
He’s older than his years, he’s a fantastic kid and he’s got a great brain, it’s always ticking over. He’s a special talent and he was lovely to work with, always asking questions. I said to him before we started I’m going to give you my angry eyes for a bit but don’t take it personally I’ll shake your hand afterwards and he said okay. I wanted him to see Harvey not be all pally with him before the scenes, I needed him to remember he hated me then we were hugging after the scenes and having a chat. I love the character and I love the storyline and what’s great about these scenes is that Harvey’s not in control at any point, Sam, he’s in control and Harvey knows it. He can’t even look at him and to have these two people, one of them who’s a drug dealer who’s killed people and yet the one who’s in control is an 11 year old kid, it’s very interesting.
Have you enjoyed playing Harvey again?
I love playing this character, that’s why I came back, I wouldn’t have done it if it was going to weaken the character in any way because I think what we did with it last time was enough but what I did like is, let’s explain a little bit why these people behave the way they behave. I think it’s interesting to dive into that.
Coronation Street airs at 8pm on ITV1