Next week, when Justin Rutherford goes on trial for the acid assault that permanently altered Ryan Connor’s life, justice may finally be served for the Coronation Street evil.
With the aid of his cunning sister Karen and his defence team, Justin is urgently trying to escape serving time in jail for his terrible crime.
Here, the actor who portrays Justin provides further information about what is to come.
When Justin shows up for the trial, what can we anticipate from him?
“We are going to witness a new Justin. With the trial ongoing and him feeling cornered, a lot is going on in his brain. He is prepared to use whatever necessary measures to obtain the upper hand.
“Justin is lying to everyone and everybody around him, and he has twisted his sister Karen. He is in dire need because he has a very real fear of spending a very long time in jail.
“This is Justin’s great opportunity to be heard and seen, especially by Daisy, so he is thrilled to seize the moment. As the trial goes on, we will see Justin battling to maintain composure despite the mounting internal anxiety.
Do Justin’s actions against Ryan cause him any regret?
“Justin is preparing for survival. Moments after the assault, he did recognise his error, but since then, he has resolved to take all reasonable precautions to defend himself. He nearly succeeded in decompartmentalizing himself by persuading himself that he had done nothing wrong.
He is such an absolutely fantastic liar that he completely buys into his own falsehoods. Strangely, I believe Justin harbours regret for Ryan but not in a very sympathetic manner. He laments the circumstance he has put himself in and feels sorrow that this has brought him to where he is.
“Justin is viewing it through the lens of how it has affected him, and he has no appreciation or understanding of the damage he has caused Ryan.”
The next week, Karen deceives Daisy and ends up giving Justin’s defence team some important information. Could you please explain Justin’s involvement in this?
“Justin and Karen have exchanged messages. Justin has been very cunning and aggressively working behind the scenes to plan his defence by placing his sister in a situation that makes her feel very uncomfortable.
“By bringing up their mother and really leaning that aggressively on her, Justin is guilt-tripping his sister. He is leveraging the fact that he is the only family she has left against her. It just demonstrates his capacity to manipulate others to achieve his goals. He doesn’t even consider his actions to be utilising others; instead, he sees them as a means to a goal.
How certain is Justin when he offers proof?
“Justin has a prepared speech because he understands the significance of this case and views this as his best chance to persuade the jury to exonerate him. He will go on the charm offensive in full force and use all of his deceitful strategies to prevail in the jury selection process.
“Justin isn’t sure that this will all work out for him, but he realises that it’s make-or-break time, and he has to put on a show to remember in order to get away with it.
“For him, the stakes are quite high and the pressure is on. The most cunning Justin yet will be on display.
“We’ve already seen little indications that Justin has the capacity to influence others; he did it to Daisy and to Daniel, and both of them figured him out and pushed him aside.
“However, the jury is unaware of the facts or Justin’s character. The majority of people are charmed by his performance when they first encounter him. He might be pretty modest, but because this is the end all, be all, he will go all out..
How was it to shoot in Bolton for the court scenes?
The trial sequences were recorded over the course of a week, and as Justin is a defendant, he is plainly within a large glass defendant box in the court. The defendant box is the one that Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton, climbed out of in the courtroom where Happy Valley was shot.
“That court has a lot of history, too. I was walking directly from there up into the box, which was strange since there are ancient, Victorian prisons below the court.
It was stressful because the days were lengthy and the very last scene we recorded was when Justin took the stand and I had a three-page speech to deliver. This one major moment was what I had been anticipating all week.
I had a lot of anxiety before that moment, which was appropriate since Justin would have had the same feeling because it was his final significant bet. It was pretty therapeutic to get everything out there, and it was undoubtedly the longest speech I have given while acting on Coronation Street.
When you first read the script for it, how did you feel?
Okay, now is the moment for him to lay everything on the table, I thought. Since this is Justin’s moment to sway the jury and give it his all, I knew it would be the most challenging scene I’ve ever acted as Justin.
It seemed like the whole six-month run I had on Coronation Street was condensed into that one speech because large monologues like that are very uncommon on television.
I really wanted to make the most of the scenario since it seemed pretty dramatic and was in a courtroom. We’ll see how the people react to it when it airs on TV, but it felt like a challenge and I only had one or two opportunities to get it perfect because of how Coronation Street is recorded.
Have you liked portraying a character as evil as this?
“Yes, being the evil guy is always entertaining. I do often portray individuals that are tormented, and Justin is undoubtedly troubled. It was necessary for me to look for the reality and the truth in him because else, he would come out as an artificial evil.
“I know this seems strange, but as an actor, you have to try to identify to the character on a human level and find that compassion in them. I then considered his mother’s death, his isolation and loneliness, the fact that he is alone, and the fact that he has grasped onto Daisy because of a pretty flimsy relationship that he believes to be something more.
“I just had to try and play that all convincingly and make it feel real,” the actor said.
What was the most challenging sequence to shoot in the narrative?
There have been many because the truly awesome thing about this character is that he has grown and evolved as the plot has progressed. I consider myself really fortunate to have been given such well-written, captivating sequences to play in.
The sequences when Justin shows up at the wedding fair were challenging because I was attempting to make it seem as plausible as possible since, in my opinion, Justin came across as creepier the less menacing I made it.
I had to figure out a method to keep the audience interested and take them on a trip throughout Justin’s monologue during the trial scenes since it was just me talking for a very long period.
What response have your viewers given you?
“I’ve had quite a few people approach me in bars asking whether I’m the lad from Coronation Street and demanding a picture. I did have one person approach me and say, “You’re really scary!” and he did truly look a little bit terrified of me. Everyone has been incredibly courteous and they realise it’s not real life. “Honestly, mate, that’s not who I am!” I said.
What hints can you provide on the trial’s verdict?
“Justin’s play is audacious. The outcome of the coin will not truly be known to viewers until the very end.
Have you liked developing plots that have generated public debate?
Yes, it has been wonderful to be a part of narratives that not only have drama but also make a message. I’ve relished getting my teeth into this part because, as an actor, it is something I truly want to perform.
What has Coronation Street’s most memorable moment been for you?
Meeting Princess Anne when she came on the set was undoubtedly. When else will you be able to claim that you have met a royal at the Rovers Return? It’s crazy! Tell your grandchildren about it, kind of stuff!
She showed a lot of interest in the acid attack plot, which gave me the opportunity to speak with her, something I hadn’t really anticipated. She was quite knowledgable and was familiar with the plot.
Do you believe it is crucial for Coronation Street to demonstrate Justin will pay for his actions?
“Definitely, yes. When I’ve seen a programme and seen a character do bad things, I can’t help but hope that it’s going to come back to bite them, and I believe Justin most definitely deserves to get justice because of what he has done, which was horrifying. I firmly believe that he deserves to be punished.
The following week, ITV1 and ITVX will broadcast Coronation Street on a special schedule from Monday through Friday at 7.30 p.m.