Note: The following article contains discussion of sexual misconduct that some readers may find upsetting.
EastEnders star Simone Lahbib has revealed the challenges of playing the evil Katy Lewis on the BBC One soap.
As viewers learned earlier this year, Katy sexually abused Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) in a care home when he was just a teenager. The pair are now set for a dramatic showdown on New Year's Day when Mick finally confronts the villain about the past and her hold over him.
Explaining what it's like to play such an evil and manipulative character, Simone said: "I've found it very interesting and challenging. She is unlike any other character I've played, I tend to be offered strong but vulnerable characters who are fairly earnest.
"Katy is much more complex, damaged and dark. Where other characters I've played have been emotional and from the heart, Katy's all from the head. Very clever and quick-thinking. She grooms people, gains trust, extracts information, then uses it to manipulate them."
She continued: "She wants to confuse Mick to the point he can't trust his own memories, make him feel he can't trust anyone else either, except her, so as to isolate him and make him easier to break down. Mick is a danger to Katy and she has no conscience about doing anything she feels she needs to protect herself."
When approaching the role, Simone did her own research, speaking to survivors of sexual abuse, watching documentaries and reading books.
"I wanted the audience to be sucked in by her in the beginning and, like Mick, left confused and unsure who was telling the true version of events," she explained.
"But of course I grew to understand that spoiler alerts were necessary since the storyline could potentially trigger some survivors so it was important to flag upcoming scenes and add support information after episodes. I may have let her mask slip sooner otherwise."
EastEnders will air Danny and Simone's showdown on New Year's Day at 8pm on BBC One.
Readers who are affected by the issues raised by this storyline can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by email via email@example.com.
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