Chris Fountain first came to our attention through the TV soap Hollyoaks. Since then he’s been a winner of Dancing on Ice, starred in Coronation Street and now he’s heading to The Lowry, Salford Quays in a stage version of The Rain Man. Here he answers a few questions and tells us what it’s like following in Tom Cruise’s footsteps

What attracted you to this stage production of Rain Man?

Rain Man is one of my favourite films. It features two great performances from Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, so I was 100 per cent interested as soon as I heard about it.

Those performances are iconic. Do you feel any pressure to live up to them?

That’s what everyone thinks, but it’s the story that’s the main draw for me. It’s great to have the film as a reference; Tom Cruise portrayed Charlie absolutely magnificently, but I want to create my own version of Charlie.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, what’s Rain Man about?

It’s a really interesting story that’s got a bit of everything. It’s funny, it’s heartfelt, it’s emotional.

My character, Charlie, is not a nice person at the start of the show. I don’t like him and hopefully the audience won’t either. His father dies and he thinks he’s going to be left a fortune. Then there’s a bombshell. He finds out he’s got a brother, Raymond, who’s getting all the money.

At first all Charlie’s interested in is trying to get half of his money, but as the show progresses, the two go on a journey and start to bond. By the end of the show you see Charlie in a different light. He really connects with Raymond in a way you don’t think is possible at the start.

Is it tricky playing someone you don’t like?

I really relish the opportunity to play something different from myself. It’s a test of your ability and it’s a challenge. Of all the parts I’ve done in my career, this is probably the biggest.

What do you think seeing Rain Man on stage rather than on a screen brings to the story?

You can connect with certain things when you’re watching a film in your house, but when you’re in a theatre and you can hear the voices up close, you can see the emotion and the facial expressions, you really feel like you’re a part of the story, rather than watching it through a piece of glass.

Are you excited about touring?

I am. I’ve lived all over the place, so I’m quite happy living out of a suitcase. And it’s always exciting to go and see different theatres, cities and towns. I make a point, wherever I am, of getting out and exploring in the day time when I’m not doing the show.

I’m looking forward to coming to The Lowry, because that’s going to be the closest venue to where I’m from (Bradford). I also used to live there and I’ve got a lot of fond memories of Manchester. I know my friends from London have already planned a road trip to Manchester and my mum will be coming with other friends

How important is touring theatre?

It’s massively important. My first ever job – I was 10 when I did it – was the UK tour of Les Misérables when it came to Bradford. Everyone knows you can go and see amazing shows, plays and musicals in London, but in regional theatres, you don’t always get that, so I think it is important for touring shows to continue so people outside the capital still have the opportunity to go and see really good theatre.

Many of us got to know you through Hollyoaks. How was it playing Justin Burton?

Great. I left high school at 15 and was straight into Hollyoaks for seven years. I really grew up there, in the public eye and on the set. I learned so much from being there. Soap is a relentless schedule. The turnover of scenes in a day is absolutely incredible. I think people underestimate how hard actors in soap work. There’s just no rest. There’s no room for mistakes. You’ve got to get the episodes out. It was a real learning curve for me.

Rain Man,The Lowry, Salford Quays, Monday, March 11 to Saturday, March 16. Details from 0843 208 6000 or