Note: This article contains spoilers from Tuesday's E4 first look episode of Hollyoaks, which some readers may prefer to avoid.
Hollyoaks has aired shock exit scenes for Jesse Donovan after his wedding day ended in tragedy.
The show's latest episode saw Jesse pass away, having suffered a shock collapse when he drank too much on his wedding day. Upcoming scenes will see his family learn that his official cause of death was alcohol poisoning.
Digital Spy recently caught up with Luke Jerdy, who plays Jesse, to get the inside scoop on his departure from Hollyoaks and his future plans.
How are you feeling now that your time on Hollyoaks has come to an end?
"I feel very sad! It's weird, really, as I've been in the show for four years. When you know you're going to be leaving, you know the date when you'll be filming your final scenes but then it creeps up on you.
"I looked at the board at work and thought: 'Oh my God, there's a week left!' It's a weird feeling, but also very positive. I just feel nostalgic about the whole time I've been here. Overall I'm feeling very positive."
Why did you feel it was the right time to leave?
"I've come to the point where I want to do other things – see what else is out there and play other characters. After four years, it's a good time to move on. The main idea is to explore other projects, as you get into acting for variety."
What kind of reaction are you expecting from fans?
"I think they'll be shocked, because Jesse's death came out of nowhere and he's not a big drinker, really. After getting together with Courtney and adopting Iona, it's been nights in front of the TV. It's not like it's been coming for a while.
"I think it'll be a shock that it ends that way for Jesse. He's a fun, loveable character so it'll be sad."
Do you think having such a big shock like this will help to raise awareness of binge drinking?
"Yeah, I think so. It's just a reminder that things like that can happen on a night out – you drink too much and get yourself into a bit of a state. I hope it encourages people to watch out for their friends as well.
"If you see your friends drinking too much, stay with them and look after them, rather than letting them stay somewhere on their own, because that can lead to trouble. I think if you've got someone with you, that's always going to help. It'll be a reminder to just be careful on nights out."
What was it like filming your final scenes?
"Cold and hard on the concrete! They put a mat down for the rehearsals, but during the take, I had to put my head back on cold concrete!
"It was weird, as I've never had to play a dead part before. I've died on stage, but that's very different to having two cameras on your face and having to keep your eyes shut!"
What were the wedding scenes like to film?
"They were great, as we had a really good few days filming in The Loft. They were long days, but also really nice and everyone had a good time. All the family were there, and you had Annie Wallace's character dancing a lot! The Scottish theme was quite funny.
"I had subtext to play under the surface, so I wanted to keep a happy, smiling face for Courtney but also show Jesse wrestling with the fact that Grace had shot Mercedes and let him down again. It was that double emotion."
Why did Jesse find the Mercedes revelation so hard to cope with?
"Jesse wanted it to be a new beginning for the Donovan family, with no more lies. On the morning of the wedding, he was wearing Adam's cufflinks and felt sentimental. Then this new information came to light and he saw it as a massive stab in the back from his family.
"More than anything, I think Jesse hated being kept in the dark. Yes, he would have been furious about Grace shooting Mercedes, but if she had taken him to one side, said what happened and promised it wouldn't happen again, I think he would have forgiven her."
Did you know a long time in advance that James and Grace were the culprits?
"Yes, I must have known a good three or four months prior to filming, because I knew it was what would send Jesse on the downward spiral of drink. I wasn't too shocked about it, because it's Grace Black!"
How will Jesse's death impact Grace?
"I think Grace is going to feel very, very guilty. It's going to be really tough for her. She's going to blame herself and maybe it'll mean she turns over a new leaf – I hope so!"
Does Jesse's death mean James and Grace's secret is safe?
"Probably! It seems that way. It'll be interesting to see what Grace does about Sylver – whether she ends the relationship because of guilt over Jesse, or whether she stays with him. I'm looking forward to watching the episodes afterwards."
What do you think the future holds for Courtney?
"It's going to be very, very sad for some time, I think! The good thing is that Courtney has got Iona and she has a good support network around her.
"It'll be interesting to see whether Courtney finds out the circumstances around Jesse's death – that he knew about who shot Mercedes.
"She might wonder whether he was going to tell her. He had that conversation with Maxine about wanting to be honest with Courtney. It'll be interesting to see where that leads to. But ultimately I want Courtney to find somebody else and find happiness."
What are your fondest memories from your time at Hollyoaks?
"Gosh, so many. Just everything, really. I know that's a very broad answer but the people here are incredible – the cast and the crew. I've got such fond memories of working with my close family of characters – Tam (Grace), Jude (Liam) and Amy (Courtney).
"I've also got fond memories with Jimmy (Adam) and Maxim (original Liam Donovan) when they were here. The fondest memories will be on set with them doing Donovan stuff and having a really good time."
Who will you stay in touch with?
"Most of them! Tam, Jude and Amy who I've just mentioned. I'm still in touch with Jimmy and Maxim. People like Rishi (Sami) and Jacob (Damon), as we've got a good tight-knit group of lads who play football together.
"I'm staying up in Liverpool for the time being, so people like Nick Pickard (Tony), Ash (Darren), Rachel (Lisa), Nadine (Cleo), Rory (Joel), I've made so many friends. It'll be difficult not to keep in touch with them."
What's next for you?
"Next is a one-man show at the Liverpool Everyman Studio. I'm writing it and collaborating with a few friends on it.
"It's going to be spoken word, poetry, music, about my experiences with anger, toxic masculinity and lad culture. It's a message to young men of how to be a man in today's world."
Hollyoaks airs weeknights at 6.30pm on Channel 4, with first look screenings at 7pm on E4.
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