Emile John says ‘the stakes are high’ for his Emmerdale character Ethan Anderson, who is currently at the centre of a harrowing storyline which delivers a close look at racism.
Ethan recently took on his first solo case at work, acting as the defence lawyer for a man called Jordan (played by Peaky Blinders star Jack Parr).
Jordan has been charged with a racially aggravated assault on Ethan’s neighbour Billy Fletcher (Jay Kontzle), leaving Ethan with a huge dilemma as he faces a choice between his career and standing against injustice.
Read more: Next week on Emmerdale: Ethan attacked
Reflecting on the significance of the ITV soap’s exploration of racism, John says: “I think it’s important to show that people like Jordan do exist in the world. Emmerdale are being brave in that they’re choosing to call out this behaviour."
“There’s just such abhorrent language that the viewers will see. Being at the heart of that was quite difficult sometimes. This storyline brings to light what can actually happen, and what does happen in the world.”
Speaking recently about the ongoing plot, actor John delves into Ethan’s state of mind. “He’s definitely conflicted,” he says.
“He doesn’t want to bring his own preconceptions or his own bias; as a lawyer you have to approach things with a clear head. So he’s conflicted, because it’s a case which involves racism, but also he has to be professional.”
“This is the first time he's actually representing someone; so the stakes are high here." He adds that backing out of the case "wouldn’t bode well for [Ethan's] reputation. The stakes are extremely high here."
Ethan eventually realises that he can no longer continue as Jordan’s legal counsel. Explaining the catalyst behind his alter ego’s decision, the star muses: “[Ethan] doesn’t want to be the one to rock the boat, and cause harm to people; he doesn’t want to do that.
"Even though his career means so much to him, he doesn’t want to be the one to inflict pain on people.”
By this point, Jordan has been seen intimidating Billy again; and it’s not long before Ethan finds himself a target too. “Ethan is attacked by Jordan,” says John.
“Ethan just has to cope with that emotionally. I think there’s a lot of trauma attached to that; especially having to do with being black. This is going to leave quite a mark on Ethan.”
The star adds that he believes fans will come to understand who Ethan is as a result of this experience. “I think this storyline speaks to Ethan’s character and who he is as a person. We really get to see what Ethan’s values are here. I think the viewers will find more of a connection to Ethan, to understand his psychology more.”
While we can’t reveal the outcome of Ethan's encounter with Jordan, actor John does offer some insight into Ethan’s romantic future with new boyfriend Marcus Dean (Darcy Grey).
“Ethan and Marcus get on really well, there’s genuine affection there. Ethan up till now has had the worst luck with guys, so it’s lovely to see Ethan really starting to build a true connection with someone. At the moment, they’re really good, and it would seem they’ve got a long future together. But it is a soap, so we’ll see what happens!”
Revisit the start of Ethan's tough case in Emmerdale