Emmerdale star Michael Wildman has had plenty of major roles over the years, from the Fast & Furious franchise to Hollywood flick The Bourne Ultimatum.
But ITV soap fans will remember him most fondly as villain Al Chapman, whose love affair with Chas Dingle is still sending shockwaves around the village.
After his axe from the role, Michael confirmed his mum was left ‘devastated’ – and quipped she might be the only one in the UK to feel that way.
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Daily Star takes a look into his life after the Dales – from landing a major new contract with Netflix to feeling that it was a ‘great time to die’.
After Michael quit his Emmerdale role, he admitted his poor mum was left heartbroken.
He confessed at the time: “My biggest thing now is picking up the pieces for my mum as she is going to be crying like crazy.
“But I don't think many others are going to be gutted Al is dead.”
Michael said that landing his soap role had his mum more excited than when he was cast in a Steven Spielberg film.
The actor said back in 2019: “I don’t really watch that much TV to be perfectly honest with you but it was my grandma – who passed many years ago – it was her favourite soap and it is my mum’s favourite soap.
“When I got this job she was more excited about me getting this than when I got Spielberg’s job!”
It wasn’t easy for Michael to let Al go, either, as he confessed: “I've died three or four times with different characters I've played over the years.
“But the difference is this is a character who I have given life to for some time. Al is much dearer to me than other characters I've said goodbye to.”
Huge Netflix news
Having bid an emotional farewell to the village, Michael’s sights are now firmly on the horizon – and he’s landed a huge new role.
He’ll be playing a bar manager in Netflix drama Baby Reindeer, whose colleague has been stalked for 10 years.
Speaking to The Mirror, he admitted: “My character is a bit of a wide boy but he is not a villain. The drama is being filmed in London which means I'll be able to come home to my bed every evening.
“It also means my wife can take on more projects herself."
Married to Welsh singer and actress Ceri Ann Gregory, Michael hails from a family of talented creatives.
‘Great time to die’
It came as no surprise to Michael that his character was going to be killed off after Al’s son Ellis left the village.
Speaking to The Mirror, he confessed: “when our executive producer rang me to say, 'We are thinking of letting Al go', I told her, 'I am with you – so long as Al doesn't leave in a taxi'.
“I wanted Al to go out with a bang, and […] he most definitely did. I am so pleased. It's been brilliant to be part of the 50th celebrations and it's a great time to die.”
The actor added to Inside Soap that he had a feeling things were “coming to a head”, admitting: “I’ve never been under any misconceptions about playing a villain in a soap.”
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The spate of deaths leading up to Cain and Al’s fatal showdown left plenty of Michael’s co-stars worried for their own jobs.
First came the death of Faith Dingle, played by Sally Ann Dexter, who died after her terminal cancer diagnosis, followed swiftly by Harriet Finch, whose quad bike exploded after a horror crash.
Liv Dingle was also killed off when a caravan pinned her to the side of a building, dying in her husband Vinny’s arms.
And Danny Miller, who plays Aaron Dingle, left the village once again amid his fury at his mum’s affair.
It has left plenty of stars worried for their own futures, with Amy Wyatt star Natalie Ann Jamieson admitting: “We’ve had lots of leaving parties lately.
“It’s strange and sad, but it’s the nature of soaps. There’s always a turnaround. Any minute could be your last so you just enjoy every moment.
“You hear there’s a serial killer and you automatically think ‘we’re all going to die, it’s definitely going to be me’. In your head, you’ve already written it ‘of course it’s going to be me because I did this’.”
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