Steve McFadden would have been a "bank robber" without EastEnders.
The 60-year-old soap star - who has played hard man Phil Mitchell since 1990 - made his fans laugh during an appearance at a Christmas lights switch-on event in Birmingham over the weekend as he joked the role had saved him from a life of crime.
He said: "What would I be doing if I weren't on EastEnders? In all seriousness, I would probably be a bank robber."
The audience laughed and applauded his answers, and one onlooker revealed how many fans referred to Steve by his real name and as his character.
They told the Birmingham Mail newspaper: "It was packed, wall to wall with people trying to get a piece of the action.
In all seriousness, I would probably be a bank robber.
"Lots of people were calling his name - both Phil Mitchell and Steve McFadden, he answered to both. He was very patient with everyone."
Meanwhile, in the past the actor has explained how his willingness on set is behind his longevity as he tries to adapt to each challenge on set instead of shying away from certain storylines or scenes.
He previously said: "I've always gone with it, that's how I was taught - you get the script and you do it. I think that's part of why I'm still there as I've got an open-mind about it and I've always accepted that the
different thing about this job - you know what the beginning is, but you won't know what the middle and the end is until you get to the end - it's a rolling canvas - and I go with it.
"Rather than close it down, I try and engage with it. Sometimes I think, I don't believe this, but the less I believe it, the more of an acting job I have to do.
"Perversely, some of the stuff I don't like, I have to invest more into and it comes across better than the stuff I do believe in, because I have had to put more effort into it."
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