Who is Butterfly’s Emmett J. Scanlan? Irish actor best known for Hollyoaks

ITV’s new series Butterfly marks the first time a transgender child has been the focus of a prime time drama. Anticipation is growing around the show, but who is cast member Emmett J. Scanlan?

Scanlan will be memorable to some viewers for his stint in the popular soap opera Hollyoaks. The Dublin-born actor appeared in the series from 2010 to 2013, starring as the violent character Brendan Brady across more than three hundred episodes of the long-running soap.

His time on the show is perhaps best remembered for a domestic abuse storyline which centred on his character’s romance with Ste Hay, played by Kieron Richardson.


Scanlan was positive about the experience of playing a dark, complex character on the soap. In a 2010 interview with Digital Spy, he said: “I have never had the opportunity to play somebody as complex and as damaged as Brendan. He is without doubt a sociopathic, self-loathing, homophobic gay man and that in itself is a fascinating attraction for any actor to play.”

Although his appearance in Hollyoaks represented something of a big break for Brady, his acting career began some time before that. He starred in several series which were exclusive to RTÉ in Ireland, including 2004’s The Big Wow Wow and The Clinic in 2008.


In 2009, the Dutch reality TV gameshow The Phone was adapted for a US audience and Scanlan was cast as The Operator: the shadowy character who sets challenges for the programme’s contestants. Executive produced by Justin Timberlake, The Phone ran for six episodes which aired on MTV in a prime Friday night slot.

After Hollyoaks, Scanlan moved onto other roles in television, playing D.C. Glenn Martin across three series of The Fall and starring in the BAFTA award-winning supernatural drama In The Flesh. In 2014, he landed his first role in a major Hollywood movie, gaining a minor role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.