Gerard was accepted into Laine Theatre Arts School in Epsom, but then came a rude awakening for the boy from Belfast.
“Here I was, suddenly surrounded by the cream of the crop,” he says.
He says: “It’s great to see so many opportunities available now for actors from here.
However, there is still not a lot of work in Northern Ireland, which is a pity. “The one piece of advice I always give kids is that, if you can be talked out of it, then it’s not for you. It’s all I ever wanted to do.” Gerard realised he was born to perform at the tender age of seven, when he played Titch the Mouse in a primary school production called The Barnyard Christmas. When it’s over, they stand up and applaud and they’ve forgotten whatever else they were up to that day, they’re just caught up in the moment.
“But they came over and started asking for photographs. He is what he is, a bolshy, ballsy lad from Belfast who doesn’t give a damn.” Part of Kris Fisher’s appeal is his straight-talking, no-nonsense approach to life and Gerard wishes, in that sense, he could be more like his alter-ego. When I come home from work every day, I have a smile on my face.” However, after three years in Hollyoaks, during which time he was nominated for Best Newcomer at the British Soap Awards, Gerard has decided to move on.
One of them was like ‘my girlfriend loves you, she’s not going to believe that I’ve met you’. “There are some similarities between myself and Kris, but I’d love to be more like him,” he says. He goes out of his way to shock people and has so much confidence in himself, that no one can intimidate him. I can be funny yeah, but I’m not quite as sharp as him. He’ll film his final scenes in the fictional village of Hollyoaks later this year but is hoping his characer won’t be killed off.
“The whole day people on the set were taking the mickey out of me, saying ‘look at the state of you. Maybe he’ll have got himself a job in an office, be wearing a suit, and be married with two children. Never say never.” Although his character regularly features in some of the soap’s main plots — including a recent bisexual love triangle — Gerard felt the time was right to leave the soap.
He now wants to return to his first love — musical theatre.
“But something was happening in the West End at the time. He told me to try Hollyoaks, give it a few years, then come back.
Lots of the lead roles were going to celebrities like Denise Van Outen and people like me weren’t getting a look in. “The next day I rang my agent and told him that this is what I wanted to do.
There were about five or six of them and they were all quite drunk,” he says.
“They started shouting ‘Here, Kris’ at me and my friends were a bit worried that something might kick off.
“There were guys there who had been trained at the Royal Ballet from the age of four.