Star Uriel Emil reveals behind-the-scenes planning for Lev’s latest storyline, speaking Russian, his brush with Hollywood and the future of Casualty...
The staff of Holby’s ED are known for taking risks in their personal lives – and Casualty paramedic Lev Malinovsky is no exception.
Lev (played by Israeli actor Uriel Emil) is currently living by his wits because doctor Dylan Keogh (William Beck) knows he had an affair with a man and is now threatening to tell his wife, nurse Faith Cadogan (Kirsty Mitchell).
And, of course, as fans of BBC1’s Casualty will know, complicating matters is the fact that Dylan is in love with Faith!
This week, tensions reach boiling point when Dylan spots Lev and Faith chatting and laughing together. Enraged by Lev’s betrayal of the woman he loves, will Dylan tell Faith what he knows?
Here, Uriel, 45, who has starred in Hollywood blockbuster The Bourne Ultimatum and ITV dramas The Great Fire and Cleaning Up, tells us why he’s relishing this latest Casualty storyline…
How long have you known about this storyline?
Uriel Emil: “From the initial meet up with Casualty, it was in the description of Lev’s character. That’s what got me really excited about him – you have to find the truth and still keep viewers’ empathy. Playing Lev until this point has been great, but now this storyline has kicked in, I’m really enjoying it!”
Was it hard keeping Lev’s secret?
UE: “The only people that knew were my wife [Icelandic film producer Ragga Gudrun] and son, and they had to promise not to tell anybody! Lev’s got many secrets and demons. Now Dylan knows, things get much more complicated for Lev, as his secret becomes more difficult to keep…”
Lev’s married to fan favourite Faith and the youngest of their three children, Luka, is battling cancer. Do you think viewers will have any sympathy for him for cheating on her?
UE: “At the end of the day Lev is a teddy bear. He wouldn’t harm anybody on purpose. He comes across much more rough than he is because of his background. He grew up in a different culture where [being gay] is not accepted. That element automatically makes it scary for Lev to come out. He’s been married and faithful to Faith for 16 years, and the idea of breaking their relationship apart is also very scary. And, being a foreigner, the idea of breaking the marriage even scarier again, because the only network Lev has is the one he’s created with his wife.”
You often speak Russian in the show, is that something you’ve had to learn?
UE: “I’ve had to learn phonetically. I write it down with English letters and go over the lines with a professional Russian speaker. But I know, just as I don’t sound British to a British-speaking person, that Lev will not sound Russian to a Russian-speaking person. I’ve been in the UK since 2003, and think I’m speaking with an English accent, but obviously I’m not. People often think I’m French or Spanish. Luckily I don’t have too many lines in Russian, so far…!”
We’d love to know more about your role in The Bourne Ultimatum with Hollywood star Matt Damon…
UE: [Laughs] “You can see me for about five seconds! There’s a sequence where Matt Damon is in Morocco and someone Bourne was supposed to meet is blown up. He goes to the morgue to find clues and I’m the morgue attendant! Matt and I have a couple of sentences in French, which neither of us speaks! I was in awe standing next to him and director Paul Greengrass. When they shouted, ‘Action’, I forgot to move so Matt gave me a push, and that kicked me into action!”
Speaking of action… When is filming for Casualty due to restart?
UE: “The honest truth is I don’t know. It’s very complicated to film, as characters need to come into contact with patients. I know they’re doing test shots to see what they can and can’t achieve, but we still don’t have a clear date of when we’re starting. But I’m sure there will be more Casualty drama to come later down the line!”
Find out if Dylan spills Lev’s secrets in Casualty on BBC1 at 7.40pm, Saturday 15 August.