Hollyoaks' Cher Winters has been showing a much darker side over the past few weeks, having embarked on a vendetta against her stepmum Mercedes McQueen after turning against her.
After Cher burned Mercedes (Jennifer Metcalfe) with a pair of hair straighteners last week, she later purposely leaked a sex video of Mercedes online – an incident which caused Cher's dad Sylver McQueen (David Tag) to turn against his wife after he became convinced that the man in the clip with Mercedes wasn't him.
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, actress Bethannie Hare, who plays Cher, revealed that despite Cher's destructive behaviour, she doesn't see her troubled character as a villain.
"It's a weird one as somebody asked me today if I'd be friends with Cher!" she said. "It's quite interesting because I feel like I know the character inside-out and I don't see her as evil or a villain. Obviously the things she's doing are not right and she shouldn't be doing them, but there are reasons in her mind."
She added that Cher feels "really betrayed" by Mercedes after her stepmum publicly revealed Cher's huge secret – that she had accidentally killed her sister as a child.
"That's a big deal and when Mercedes broke that trust, Cher hasn't been able to look at her the same way again," Bethannie explained. "Cher also wants to get closer to her dad Sylver but sees Mercedes getting in the way. She just wants time with her dad and doesn't see Mercedes as family anymore. She loved Mercedes at first and saw her as a second family member but afterwards she wanted her out of the picture."
The actress added that she doesn't think Cher planned to burn Mercedes with the hair straighteners, explaining that it happened in a "moment of explosion".
"It just shows how immature she is. She's young, she's 19, she's gone through a lot and all of this has been building. It was a moment of explosion after she'd bottled it all up, then she lost it," she said.
With viewers – and Hollyoaks residents – now aware that Cher has killed before, is there a chance that her rage toward Mercedes could take a deadly turn? Bethannie isn't convinced that Cher would go that far.
"I don't think Cher is a killer," she revealed. "I think she's such a family-focused person. If someone was going to hurt a family member, she would do anything to keep her family safe. Yes she has this vendetta against Mercedes but I don't think she'd sink that low."
The actress, who joined Hollyoaks in June last year as Sylver's long-lost daughter, also told us that she has been enjoying playing out the Cher and Mercedes rivalry because it has taught her a lot more about her character.
"Cher's behaviour has taken a complete twist and it's been so fun to play. I've learned so much more about the character. I've discovered a side to Cher that I didn't know was there and the audience didn't know either. So it's been really fun to play," she said.
"I always knew Cher had a secret and she'd been through a lot, which is why her mum left her in the village. Then we found out about how Cher had killed her sister. It was all an accident but as soon as that came out, it was one thing after another and I realised there was a lot more to Cher. She's been through a lot."
Hollyoaks currently airs new episodes from Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.
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