Will Mellor has always wanted to entertain, ‘I was very extrovert as a kid. I joined an acting agency when I was 11 as I wanted to be a performer, but wasn’t sure whether it was acting, singing or dancing, that I wanted to do.’ And while at school, which Will enjoyed ‘purely for the social life’, he continued to get work through the agency. At 13, he got a part in the ITV drama Children’s Ward. He worked on several commercials and then was cast in Brookside aged 16. Playing Jacqui Dixon’s boyfriend, Will was in the show for a couple of months, but his big break came when he was 18, and cast as Jambo in Channel 4’s new teen soap Hollyoaks. From then on, Will has been in constant work. He spent a year and a half in the musical Oh What a Night (in which he met his current girlfriend Michelle McSween), appeared in Fat Friends and is due to record a new series of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps shortly. Will also enjoyed chart success in 1998.
Currently he has been playing the part of Jack the receptionist in CASUALTY since March 2001. His character has strongly developed through the last series – and his recent cancer storyline and Nikki’s stabbing in the finale of Series 16 proved Will to be a capable and versatile actor. ‘It was a good experience because it meant I was a proper actor. I never felt it before!’ joked Will, ‘Everyone thought I was just the jack the lad character and couldn’t do serious stuff. You don’t realise that some people do pigeon hole you to be just a comedian actor and its good to show you can do other things’. After the series finale episode was shown, Will received lots of texts and phone calls of support, ‘. My mum loved it – she’s the biggest fan,’ he says, ‘and even Dan Rymer commented he didn’t know I could do it but said “I thought you could just do comedy but that was good!” Filming the final scenes for Nikki’s stabbing was hard going Will admitted ‘Unbelievable it’s the first time I’ve ever done that in my life (cried on TV) and it choked me up,’ he continued, ‘Its because that was all we were doing. I had no social life, there was so much dialogue to learn, and stuff to do. There was a whole day in the CRASH room. It was heavy going, and then when we’d finished filming it was such a relief, but in the car afterwards I started crying, it was weird. I rang Kelly (Nikki) up and she said she felt the same. Just because we got so into it, and didn’t have a release from it. So when I did have the release, I just had a big lump in my throat.’
Will is happy about his character’s strong development throughout the last series, ‘It was good to get that out so they know he can do it again. Know they can see that in his character – he’s three dimensional. He’s not just jokey and that he has got a deeper side.’ However at the beginning of Series 17 which starts with Nikki’s return to work after three months – she doesn’t know that Jack proposed to her while he was at her bedside and is shocked to find out from her colleagues. ‘For Jack I think it was just a shock to the system. He said it at the heat of the moment – she was dying, and then she survived and he thought hang on “I thought you were gonna die!” so he gets caught out’ Jack gets embarrassed by his rash proposal, and Will agrees his character is not ready to get married, ‘One day he’ll get married, but at the moment he doesn’t know who he is and he’s a bit commitment shy’. But it’s no doubt the couple care about eachother, although Will finds it hard to follow the couple’s stories ‘I can’t keep up with Jack’s relationship with Nikki, it’s permanently on and off. He loves her to bits and I think that working together is their main problem as everyone manages to interfere with their relationship.’ The new series sees Jack more protective over Nikki, since her stabbing incident. ‘Jack is more paranoid, and everytime she goes to work, he’s worried she’s going to get hurt,’ he reveals, ‘In one episode, he is sat in the ambulance with her at one point and they get a call. It’s to a rough area, and he doesn’t want her to go, so he stays in the ambulance. – it ends in someone pulling out a gun on him. He causes the situation to go from bad to worse really.’
Will likes his character however, ‘He’s got a good sense of humour and he’s always looking to lighten up the situation, which can be a good thing in a hospital. He’s got a lot of emotions, which he’s not afraid to show. His heart is in the right place but he just tends to say the wrong thing. On the negative side he is very stubborn and likes things his own way.’ And has found some similarities in himself and Jack, ‘He’s very physical and into sport, like me. He loves women and I love women – there’s no doubt about that. I live for the day and so does Jack. He needs to be more thoughtful and sometimes I say and do things without thinking and Jack’s the same. He’s a spontaneous kind of guy.’
Jack’s other future storyline involves the appearance of his and Tony’s father, which Will admits is emotional stuff, ‘Jack works as a bouncer for his dad, but gets into trouble,’ he says, ‘Jack gets jealous when he finds out a guy has been taking photos of Nikki and chats her up in club, his Dad eggs him on and Jack hits the guy. Next you see Jack doing a runner down the street!’ he jokes, ‘I get arrested for that. In fact Jack has a few run-ins with the police.’
Will, who has been playing Jack for 2 years, still lives in a hotel in Bristol (where CASUALTY is based) – he hasn’t been bothered to get a flat. ‘I’m just lazy,’ he admits, ‘There’s no two ways about it. I just can’t be bothered. I should’ve bought a place really.’ Will, who has a cottage in Manchester says he doesn’t spend a lot of time in the hotel so he isn’t lonely ‘No I don’t sit there and cry all day!’ he jokes, ‘I have a great time and I’ve got my playstation. It’s just I don’t spend much time in there – I just sleep there. I’ve got a lot of friends in Bristol, so I’m always dotted about. And if I get two days off I go home to Manchester, so I’m not always here. Only when I work I’m here. And I like to keep it like a work thing. When I’m in my hotel, it stops me from being distracted, having parties and all sorts!’ Since leaving the bright lights of London to the more quieter city of Bristol, Will was asked if it had tamed him, ‘No, it will take more than Bristol to tame me! I do the same things as when I lived in London, its just people (press) stop lying about me now,’ he says ‘They used to make up stories. I do go out a lot, but in London they used to turn it into a story. – the press are at every corner and in Bristol they’re not’. Will is also hoping to buy a bar with his sister in the future.
In his spare time he makes time to see his family, parents – Shirley and Bill, and his four sisters, ‘I always have a lot of visiting to do and if I have more than two days off I’ll go home to Manchester.’ And he recently took a trip to Florida with his current girlfriend of three years, Michelle McSween.
However he has given up on regular training since damaging his knee, ‘My cartilage has gone again in my knee. I did it while playing football and will need to have keyhole surgery to fix it. I can do a few weights though.’ But admits his busy schedule also has limited time spent at the gym ‘ I’m working really hard at the moment too, so don’t have much time for exercise.’
As well as CASUALTY, Will has just finished filming a second series of comedy ‘Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps , ‘CASUALTY gave me the time off which is great, they give me 10 weeks off to go and do it, which is good of them,’ he says ‘They did it for me last year, and they don’t usually do that so I’m grateful they’ve given me the time off to do it’.
But Will has revealed how he may not renew his contract for CASUALTY when it comes up for renewal in March 2003. He said ‘I don’t know. I could probably leave next year. I’ve done my three series and I think I’m planning on leaving then. It’s just because I think I’ve done everything I can probably do with Jack and you can’t get stuck into something for too long – if I keep sticking with things for too long, you can get tied down. I just want to keep doing things and enjoy moving about really’
He has been tempted to return to musicals or theatre productions, ‘I’m only starting to get tempted now, as people are saying how much fun it is. But I tended to not believe that because I can’t think of doing something the same, every day, it would drive me insane. But I wouldn’t mind doing a bit of theatre for experience’ Will previously appeared in the musical ‘Oh What a Night’ which he admitted was good fun, ‘But after a month I was bored about doing it every day and I started to go into autopilot – you stop thinking about what you’re doing. The pressures are major – I worry about my voice and getting injured – if you hit one bum note, that’s all they’ll talk about not every other note that you’ve smashed.’ He relived a night he did just that, ‘One night, I’d had a few beers at lunchtime – and I hit bum note! I looked out to the crowd and thankfully they all cheered, so I got them on my side’
Will has also done his hand of presenting which he found easy, ‘It was the easiest job in the world because all you have to do is talk to people and I enjoy talking to people. It was great fun’ but says he doesn’t want to pigeon hole himself into one type of role, ‘I want to do lots of things, keep myself entertained, because I get bored really easily.’
Will also had a brief career in music, releasing two singles, but remains sceptical of the music business, ‘I’d love to record more music but only if England was supportive to their own talent which it’s not,’ he says ‘I really dislike the way the music industry works, they tend to buy in a lot from abroad and not support our own talent and I think we need to start supporting our own more. It’s the same with everything, they tend to knock their own down – why do that when we’ve got enough talent here?’ It’s obviously a topic Will feels passionately about, ‘So say if I did music now, all they’d do was knock me for it and they probably wouldn’t listen to a note of it and that’s before I’d even release it. So I’d rather do music in my own time and write for myself and other people, and they sell it on, so I do it that way, I’m a silent partner and I’m happy with that. I don’t have to be in the front of it. I don’t like people talking about what they no nothing about and that’s what they do, slag you off with out even hearing it.’ He continued, ‘Just because you’re an actor it doesn’t mean you haven’t any other talents. I’d rather be called an entertainer, as I’d love to do all sort of things, presenting etc – but they don’t like it, they don’t give people a chance’