Entertainment

Ex-EastEnders star Rita Simons: That chapter in my life is shut

The star, 40, played Roxy Mitchell for 10 years in the soap before her character was killed off.

Ex-EastEnders star Rita Simons has said she stopped watching the BBC One soap because it became “unhealthy”.

Simons, 40, played Albert Square’s Roxy Mitchell for 10 years before her character and her screen sister Ronnie (Samantha Womack) drowned in a swimming pool and were killed off.

Simons, who has swapped Walford for a star role in Legally Blonde The Musical, told the Press Association: “The last time I watched EastEnders I died, which was kind of traumatic.

Rita Simons in Legally Blonde The Musical (Robert Workman)
Rita Simons in Legally Blonde The Musical (Robert Workman)

“I believe in the law of attraction, that if you get too involved in stuff it will come to you, and there was something slightly disturbing about watching me and Sam floating lifelessly in a pool, plus we didn’t want to die, so we were willingly killing these characters.

“I had to float in that pool, even though I didn’t want to. It’s my job.

“Then my (character’s) funeral was coming up and I thought, you know what, I have to stop watching this, it’s not healthy. I don’t want to see the funeral of a character I love.

“I watched it again a few months after and I missed everyone so much… the crew, make-up, the place. It becomes too painful to watch.

Rita Simons on the red carpet (Ian West/PA)
Rita Simons on the red carpet (Ian West/PA)

“That chapter in my life is shut and at the moment it needs to stay shut. I’m dead. I’m not coming back, I’m gone… At the moment it makes me sad to see all my old friends and it doesn’t feel healthy.”

Simons said that she had wanted to leave the soap to “stretch my wings” but “didn’t have the guts to make that move”.

“So when were were told we were going, I was genuinely pleased. I thought, ‘this is great, the universe has given me this’, but then we found out afterwards we were dying and then I was gutted,” she said.

Samantha Womack
Samantha Womack played Roxy’s sister in the soap (Ian West/PA)

Killing off her character felt “brutal”, but she added: “I’m truly glad that I don’t have to spend the rest of my life thinking ‘should I go back?’.”

The actress currently plays hairdresser Paulette Bonafonte in the UK tour of Legally Blonde The Musical, alongside Eurovision singer Lucie Jones and former Coronation Street star Bill Ward.

“She’s a tart with a heart, she’s lived, she’s been through the mill,” the actress said of her new alter ego.

And “the muscle memory is coming back to life” for the all-singing, all-dancing role.

Simons keeps her voice in check by steaming her throat “every day with eucalyptus, lavender and thyme”, doing a lot of warm-ups and being “careful not to shout”.

“It’s more physically gruelling than EastEnders, which was mentally gruelling,” the actress said.

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