Simon Yaffe speaks to an actor mis-portrayed by the Press
ACTOR Paul Danan learned about fame the hard way. After making a name for himself in Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks, he appeared on ITV reality show Celebrity Love Island - and was derided in the media.
A series of alleged misdemeanours were splashed over the tabloid newspapers.
But now Paul wants to pay back the industry he loves so much.
So the 34-year-old has set up drama classes in Hertfordshire.
He told the Jewish Telegraph: "I love kids and wanted to give something back from what I learned.
"So many kids nowadays are stuck inside playing on their computers and I hate that type of life for them.
"It is amazing for them to get out and take part in activities which capture their imaginations."
Well-versed in the acting trade, Essex-born-and-bred Paul was a student at the famed theatre arts training school the Italia Conti Academy.
He also studied method acting in London and Los Angeles.
"I have had a lot of experience and practice," Paul said. "Luckily, the acting classes are really busy and it has grown quickly.
"Parents want kids to build their confidence and many want their kids to be stars.
"But my classes are about the technique and the craft and it is for all ages, not just for kids."
Engaging and funny, Paul's life post-Hollyoaks was unfortunately sullied by a wild guy reputation, jumped on by much of the British press.
He was sacked from a role in pantomime in Preston in 2007 after swearing when he switched on the city's Christmas lights.
And he was tried in court for possessing cannabis in 2010.
"When people get to know me, they tell me I am not what they thought I might be," Paul explained.
"All the tabloids did were write things which were not nice and much of it was blown out of proportion. Much of what they wrote was so fabricated."
Paul grew up in a Sephardi family in Chigwell. His father is from Fez, Morocco.
Paul attended an Orthodox Jewish grammar school from the age of nine.
"We davened every morning and put tephillin on every day," he recalled. "It was pretty hardcore."
But the school did not offer drama GCSE, which he was desperate to do.
Paul went to another secondary school and then moved on to Italia Conti.
He said: "I went to the Sylvia Young drama night classes and landed a little part in EastEnders.
"I fell in love with it and thought, 'This is what I want to do'."
After getting an agent, his big break came in 1997 when he landed the part of bad boy Sol Patrick in Hollyoaks.
But it meant he had to leave his family and friends behind to move to Liverpool, where the soap is filmed.
"I adored it in Liverpool," Paul recalled. "The people on Hollyoaks were like a family.
"In a way, it was like being at university and I was learning on the job."
Paul mostly welcomed the attention which comes from appearing on a top-rated soap beamed into people's home three times a week.
There were downsides too, however.
He said: "I saw a lot of the guys getting a lot of attention and I wanted it.
"I had people shouting things at me and there were lots of girls - I loved it.
"But people also used to grab me and thought they knew me.
"Journalists invaded my private life, which made me feel like I didn't have a life of my own."
After four years on Hollyoaks, Paul decided to leave.
He wanted to play other characters and did not want to be typecast.
And he was also engaged to a girl who lived in London.
Paul's dream was to hit Los Angeles and become a film star, but like so many actors' Hollywood expectations, it didn't quite work out.
He admitted: "Half of me now thinks it might not have been the best move because of the lack of stability.
"I went to Los Angeles and hired a manager, but it was difficult.
"I spent three years there, but had to come home every three months because of visa issues.
"I did get down to the final two for some major movies and I had a great time over there."
Paul appeared in children's TV programmes The Basil Brush Show and The Queen's Nose and, while in LA, also landed a role in American TV series Adventure Inc.
But the inconvenience of renewing his visa every three months saw him return home.
In 2005, he received a call inviting him to appear on reality TV show Celebrity Love Island.
In it, 12 single celebrities spent five weeks on an island in Fiji.
"I was asked whether I wanted to spend two months on a beach with five of the fittest girls and get paid for it - it was a no-brainer," Paul explained.
"But I didn't realise the amount of cameras that would be on me and it was pretty full on.
"It certainly didn't help with my acting career after the programme ended.
"The industry were a bit funny about it and wondered whether I was still an actor. "It was hard to get my acting reputation back."
Paul hosted short-lived ITV2 show Date My Girlfriend, appeared on Celebrity Quitters on Channel Five and then came the incidents which were all over the tabloids.
"There were times I couldn't handle everything and in my social life I experimented with different things," Paul said. "And they took their toll."
But now Paul has his life back on track.
As well as his drama classes, he recently had a role in ITV1 drama series Crime Stories and is hopeful of doing another series.
He added: "It was such a nice thing to do. I know that the acting work will come back and it just takes time to give people another chance.
"I still get recognised from Hollyoaks, which is mad because it was more than 10 years ago.
"I would love to bring Sol back to Hollyoaks."
Paul had mooted whether to emigrate to Israel. His brother recently made aliya after marrying an Israeli girl.
"I love it out there - I spent most of my summer in Israel," he continued.
"I have always been into Judaism too. I love going to the synagogue and I fasted on Yom Kippur.
"Perhaps that is the reason why I am not married yet - I want to find a nice, Jewish girl."