The 49-year-old actor played bad boy womaniser Max Branning on the BBC One soap from June 2006 to February 2021 and although he has only been away from the show for a few months he is open to an Albert Square comeback.
In an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper, he said: “I never got bored playing him … It was hard graft, but I’m really pleased that they’ve left the door open for the character to return. Never say never.”
Jake – who lives with his wife Alison and their two children Amber, 16, and Buster, 13 – cherishes every one of the 15 years he spent in ‘EastEnders’ and although his alter ego Max was always causing trouble, especially with the Walford women, he always liked the character.
He said: “The thing I will remember the most are the great actors I worked with there – Jo Joyner (Tanya Branning), Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell), Lacey Turner (Stacey Slater) … that’s what I took away from ‘EastEnders’. I’m really proud of the work we did over the years.”
“Max felt very real to me. He was just a guy who didn’t know happiness when he had it.
“He wanted to be a better dad than his dad had been to him but for whatever reason he couldn’t see what was under his nose, the grass was always greener. I always found that tragic. I liked him. That’s one of the reasons I was there 15 years.”
Jake will next be seen starring alongside Lily Allen in new London West End play ‘2:22 – A Ghost Story’, his first time on stage for 18 years.
The former ‘Minder’ star insists he isn’t nervous about treading the boards again because “in some ways ‘EastEnders’ was very theatrical”.
He explained: “You’re exposed, and eyes are on you – but it’s all about preparation.
“It’s 18 years since I’ve been on the stage. But in some ways ‘EastEnders’ was very theatrical. You’ve got four cameras and a 15-page scene and you’ll do it in one go so it doesn’t feel very different. You get used to that pressure.”