Exclusive: Hollyoaks star Tylan Grant confirms character name change to Phoenix

Hollyoaks spoilers follow.

Hollyoaks star Tylan Grant takes centre stage in a heartwarming scene next month, as his character opens up about plans to change his name.

Tylan's character chooses to confide in Charlie Dean, explaining that he now identifies as a man and will be known as Phoenix.

Charlie is supportive and also accepts some advice in return from Phoenix, who can see how much he's struggling at the moment.

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Ray Burmiston - Lime Pictures

Subsequent scenes show that Darren and Jack Osborne are equally understanding as they discuss Phoenix, pleased that he trusted his family with the news.

Our headshot pictures, taken on location by photographer Ray Burmiston, show a new look for Phoenix in upcoming scenes.

Digital Spy recently caught up with Tylan for an exclusive interview about the storyline.

How do you feel about exploring this story for Phoenix?

"I'm really happy because I think it's super important right now. I'm grateful to be around people who want to get it right. It's a big blessing to cover it.

"I hope people enjoy the story and will learn something from it, especially with Charlie's reaction and the rest of the Osborne family. It's very daunting and not an easy thing to realise who you are and then announce who you are, whether that's in a big proximity or a small one.

"The responses we see from the characters are something to really look up to. I'm really proud of what's been done and I'm excited for Phoenix's future."

Why is it the right time for Phoenix to change his name?

"I'm very lucky that some of my own personal experiences coincide with my character's and everyone I'm working with has been super supportive and understanding. It also felt like the natural progression for Phoenix to discover this revelation about himself and to come to terms with who he is.

"There have been a lot of changes going on around Phoenix recently, as well as the whirlwind of this transitional period in his own life. He's had a journey with work and with his own family too.

"In the midst of this, Phoenix has had time to reflect on his own growth and where he is in life. It felt very right for this to be the moment where he realises this thing about himself and I think it's very beautiful. I'm very glad that it's happening."

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Ray Burmiston - Lime Pictures

Were you pleased with how the show approached Phoenix's scene with Charlie?

"Definitely. I had a conversation with the producers about this storyline and how they wanted to do it. I remember reading the script and thinking: 'Wow, this is amazing'. I love the conversations between Phoenix and Charlie and it felt right.

"Two weeks later, we were filming it. I hadn't expected it to happen so soon but I'm so glad that it did. It felt real and very refreshing with the way the scene pans out. I really like the support that Charlie gives. It feels very natural and doesn't feel forced in any way, which I really appreciated."

Did Hollyoaks allow you any input into the scenes?

"They did – we had a conversation about where my character was at and how I felt if they wanted to do a name change storyline. They wanted it to be right and as realistic as possible.

"Of course experiences vary, especially with something so personal, but they wanted to make sure they were getting information from someone who had experienced something similar. They wanted to make sure it was real, that I felt seen, and that I felt it was hitting the right marks and making the right points.

"They wanted my feedback because they wanted to know how I felt about it and I really like that. It felt very earnest, very honest and I really appreciated that."

How was it to film the scene with Charlie Behan, who plays Charlie?

"It all happened quite quickly for me and it was quite a big moment, so having Charlie there was great – he was one of the best people I could have had that scene with. It's always so easy working with him and he's such a lovely guy, so there was always that support there.

"I felt that we bounced off each other in the right way. The right moments were seen and we were very patient with each other. I haven't seen it yet, but it felt like we did something good."

charlie behan as charlie dean in hollyoaks
Lime Pictures

How do Jack and Darren respond?

"I'm not in that scene, but I believe both of them have a conversation and they are very accepting of Phoenix. When I read those scenes with Ashley [Taylor Dawson, who plays Darren] and Jimmy [McKenna, who plays Jack] I really liked it.

"I thought it was great just how easily they understood and weren't afraid to ask questions."

Did you choose the name Phoenix yourself?

"That was a Hollyoaks choice. At first my name was meant to be changing to River, but then the character Rayne was introduced and I think they thought it was too similar and might be a bit confusing.

"I think the name Phoenix aligns pretty well with the transformation my character is going through, like a phoenix rising through the ashes. I think someone in some department likes River Phoenix so we had to stay true to that!"

Phoenix's name change is understated on screen, rather than being a big storyline in its own right. Are you pleased that Hollyoaks took that approach?

"Honestly yes, for a couple of reasons. One being that they wanted to be respectful of my own personal journey, and how important this story was for me in a climate that is very scary to live in for a lot of trans people. I think they were looking out for me in that way, just making sure that I was comfortable with what was going on.

"Also, it isn't always a massive thing and I think that's important to showcase. It's new for most people when they hear about it, but it's not for the person going through it and I think it was well done that everyone was so understanding.

"It's not that simple for everyone. I think with the scene that I'm not in, Jack and Darren discuss how Phoenix's pronouns have changed to 'he' and that being an adjustment, but that also being accepted and something that is understood and very easy.

"Phoenix has always had that support system, so it makes sense for him to be around people who are happy for him and want the best for him. It's nice how understated it is.

"This is probably something Phoenix has been battling for much longer than anyone will know. I think what's really beautiful is that Phoenix hasn't changed and isn't a different person – he still is who he is. I'm very happy that it went that way."

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Ray Burmiston - Lime Pictures

Do you hope Phoenix's story remains positive and uplifting in that way?

"I think what has been done is great. The positive response and support is amazing. But I think we all know that it's not as black-and-white in real life and it's not always that simple.

"It's a lovely thought to believe that you come out and suddenly everyone is using your correct pronouns and seeing you for who you are, but that's not always life. There are ups and downs, especially when you are in this very changing period. I wouldn't put it past Phoenix to have some challenges arise and to have to deal with those.

"But having this positive representation is very refreshing and needed right now. I'm happy that it is happy at the moment. Of course, life isn't always like that but it's a nice breath of fresh air. But who knows what's to come?"

Will we see more of Phoenix supporting Charlie through his mental health storyline?

"Definitely. Phoenix has been really trying to support Charlie as it's a very difficult time for him. I can definitely see a lot of scenes coming out for those two, so watch out for those."

What else does the future hold for Phoenix?

"I'm not sure I'm allowed to share too much. It hurts me not to be able to, because I'm super excited over everything that's happening right now. I've been sitting on a couple of secrets, but there should be some fun things coming up. I can say that I will be involved in Rayne's storyline a lot more and the unfolding of that.

"Phoenix is twentysomething, so it also would make sense for him to be around the twentysomethings more. Especially at this stage of life with his new job working with Lizzie at the Loveboat, it would be fun for Phoenix to branch out a bit and put himself out there.

"With him being more comfortable in his body and being out, it would be the natural progression for him to feel more confident, meet new people and be able to show up. It'd be fun for Phoenix to find his people and make more friends."

Have you missed having Jess Fox (Nancy) on set?

"I enjoyed working with her and I miss her a lot. It's been interesting to watch Darren spiral a bit in the scripts and having to adjust with his parenting.

"Jess is such an anchor – so wonderful and super professional. Whenever I've had a scene with her, I've felt like a better actor just from being in her presence and being able to have those scenes together. She is greatly missed but her baby is adorable and I hope to see her soon!"

Were you also sad over Niamh Blackshaw's departure as Juliet?

"Yeah, I was so sad. It felt like a chapter of my life and journey in Hollyoaks was ending, especially as Niamh and Ijaz [Rana, who played Imran] were both leaving. They were my people so I was definitely sad.

"Niamh is incredible and I'm extremely excited to see what she does next. I know she's going to do amazing things. When she told me she was leaving, I reflected a lot on our journey together because we joined the show at a similar time. It's been great to see her grow and I'm looking forward to seeing her blossom further – it was sad but happy and quite bittersweet."

Hollyoaks streams first online via Channel 4, with new episodes dropping each weekday morning. The show airs Mondays to Fridays at 6.30pm on Channel 4, and at 7pm on E4.

Selected omnibus episodes are available via Prime Video.

Read more Hollyoaks spoilers on our dedicated homepage

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