Shane Richie is about to undergo a transformation unfamiliar to the millions who know him as Alfie Moon in EastEnders.
He appears alongside Jessie Wallace - who plays on-screen spouse Kat - in The Perfect Murder at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry from Tuesday March 29 to Saturday April 2.
Shane plays Victor, who is in a loveless, soulless marriage, in which both partners detest each other. And he had a clear idea about how to play the part.
Shane said: “I I based the performance on Anthony Hopkins in the film Magic – he starts off quite normally but then the descent. You really start to see the character change quite dramatically.
“It has started to permeate my life. I was at home and my wife and I were rowing about the remote control and I had to take a step back because I thought I was turning into Victor.”
It was the radical departure from the happy-go-lucky soap character that motivated him to play the part.
Shane added: “One of the reasons I wanted to play this part is that he is so different from the parts I have played before.
“I think you see him in the first scene and you think he is just a typical lad. But as it gets darker and deeper – well, you’ll have to wait and see.”
The play is based on the bestselling thriller of the same name by Peter James.
Shane said: “Peter is a good friend of mine, and I have read the books. He is also a big fan of Kat and Alfie. I’ve been asked to play it and was just a case of finding the time to do it.”
“When Jessie came on board, I said to her that there are plenty of laughs in the show and you can play it for laughs or you could go deeper and darker. I think we have found a good balance between the two.”
Filming soon starts on a drama based around both their Eastenders characters and they will appear in pantomime at the end of the year.
Shane said: ““I think it is like a cross between Broadchurch and The Wicker Man. Kat and Alfie go to Ireland, this quiet little village and there are lots of secrets and they are both in the heart of it.
“I’ve read the script and within the first ten minutes I was going, no please don’t go there.”
Full-price tickets for The Perfect Murder start at £17.75.
Call 024 7655 3055 or visit www.belgrade.co.uk to book.