As Scott Hunter‘s time in Summer Bay comes to an end, Kip Gamblin talks exclusively to Back to the Bay about his time on the show, his dance career, moving to London and what he really thought about THAT paternity storyline.
Interview conducted by Dan in November 2005
Hi Kip, how are you enjoying England?
Ah I love it! I’m really enjoying it; it’s so exciting walking down the streets in London
Lot’s of people recognising you?
Ah not so much in London, but outside of London a lot of people do.
What have you been up to while you’ve been over here?
Well I’ve been going to Covent Garden and checking out what’s on in the West End. I’ve been watching the occasional episode of Home and Away I can admit! I’ve been watching a lot of English TV when I’m at home and I’ve got jetlag so can’t sleep. I’ve also been going out to lunch and having a few meetings with agents. I’ve only been here a week so I haven’t really done much of the touristy stuff, I kind of wanted to get busy straight away – I’ve done a few interviews and promotions for Home and Away.
So how long are you over here for?
I’ve actually moved over here and plan on living here!
Did you watch Home and Away when you were younger?
No I didn’t, I used to watch a bit of Neighbours when I was a kid, but not Home and Away
You were a dancer before your role on Home and Away, can you tell us a bit about that?
My sisters were at a school of arts and I went to one of their end of year performances. I saw them dance and a guy came on and did a solo during the evening. I saw him dance and I just thought ‘Ah that’s what I want to do; I want to be up there dancing.’ My mum was a dancer so I had it in the blood; I’m about the third generation of ballet dancers in my family. I just worked really hard at it for a year then I got accepted into the Australian Ballet School. I studied there on a 3 year course but in the second year I broke my leg so had to repeat a year, which was pretty full on!
After I graduated I was accepted into the Australian Ballet Company, which was great I got to travel a lot going to place such as Japan. I got to do some major tours with them around Australia which was a great learning experience and I got to dance some principal roles. Then I decided to go to Perth for 6 months and I worked with my girlfriend at the time at the WA Ballet which was great, but in the meantime I auditioned for a film called ‘Kick’, which was a dance film. I got the job on that and was really excited. I left Perth and went back to Sydney to make this feature film with Paul Mercurio and some other dancers I’d worked with before. That was great and I really enjoyed it so I wanted to get into acting after that.
There’s just not that much work in Australia for actors so I didn’t really get much, so I decided to go back to dance and I joined the Sydney Dance Company. I worked really hard there and got lots of exposure, at the same time I was getting more confident with my acting. I was going for auditions and it was at that time that I got a 50 worder on Home and Away. That was great fun but then again it was only a 50 worder. I had a child at that stage and I needed regular work. A lot of the acting was very part-time, so I thought I’d go back to the dancing which was more constant and secure, so I went back again to the Sydney Dance Company for a couple of years and again worked really hard.
A role came up for a main cast member on Home and Away, so I auditioned for it and I got 2 call backs. At the last call back Tammin Sursok (Dani) was there – we got on really well and there was a good rapport between us, so the producers chose me! So my agent rang me up and said ‘Hey, how would you like to go on Home and Away for 3 years?’ Of course I jumped at the chance.
And so you came riding into the bay on a white horse!
That’s right, along the beach! Which everyone remembers, I can barely remember it myself but everyone else does! I think it’s a sight which hasn’t happened much on Home and Away, they’ve repeated everything else, but not the man riding in on a white horse! But it was great, that beach that I was riding on – you could probably never ever ride your horse along that beach! But Home and Away managed to wrangle it and I got to ride a white horse along Palm Beach.
As you said earlier, you had an earlier role as Patrick, a lover of Gypsy Nash, did this influence your decision to go for the role of Scott Hunter?
It did, I enjoyed it. It gave me a bit of a taste of it and it did inspire me a bit to keep trying and to keep acting I guess. I was very nervous in that first role I remember; it’s quite scary when you’re in front of the cameras for the first time. But every time you do it, it seems to get a bit easier.
Would you ever think of appearing on Dancing with the Stars?
Ah they wouldn’t let me do it in Australia!
Because you’re too professional?
That’s right. Which was really frustrating. Because I went into Home and Away as a professional dancer and then all these people started getting on this show and doing really well. It was quite frustrating being a dancer as it was sort of like, what does a real dancer do? They’re not interested in real dancers. But then again the show was very controversial as well. They said to me I couldn’t do it as I was a professional dancer, yet most of the people who were on it, like Bec Cartwright, she trained as a dancer, she performed on stage as a dancer, yet she wasn’t classed as a professional dancer. I felt that she had a very big advantage, and so does Ada Nicodemou who’s just won the last series! These girls have studied dance for years when they were kids, and you think how can they put them up against someone who’s never danced before and judge them equally against each other? I just found it such a big contradiction that they wouldn’t let me do it.
Yeah, they’ve actually managed to incorporate your dancing into the show a couple of times though haven’t they?
Yes they did have me dance on the show a couple of times, which was funny. On TV they work so fast, whereas in dance you rehearse. rehearse, rehearse. On TV, you don’t rehearse. They give you maybe one day to put something together, and then another day to shoot it. I remember one of the dancing scenes I did on Home and Away, they brought in a choreographer to choreograph this dance with Beth. They gave us a piece of music we had to work to, when you’re given a piece of music there are accents, beats and crescendo’s in the music that you choreograph the dance to. And that’s what we did.
We shot the dance to that music – and then when they edited it later on, they put a completely different piece of music to it! So I’m sitting at home with my wife, we’ve got a glass of wine ready to watch me dance, and all of a sudden this scene came on, I walk on stage and then this music started…. And I was like: ‘Hang on, this isn’t the music….’ For some reason they think it’s ok to put an entirely different piece of music to a dance that’s already choreographed to another piece of music. So you can imagine that the dance was totally off the music.
Yeah I watched it and thought that it didn’t seem quite right!
Exactly! And that’s what everyone said to me! Can you imagine it, knowing that I’m a professional dancer, with people coming up to me saying ‘Yeah, I don’t know mate, it looked like you were off the music…’ I just gave up answering and said ‘Yeah, yeah I don’t know what happened’ It was really frustrating. But that’s TV, Home and Away’s not really about dance. They haven’t got time to rehearse as they shoot 5 episodes a week; it’s just such a fast turnover. But that’s the nature of the beast and you just have to accept it.
What has been your favourite storyline that you have been involved with?
My favourite storyline was when Alf and I busted some drug dealers on the Blaxland one day. That was great fun!
Oh yeah, that was with Pia Correlli wasn’t it?
Yeah that’s right, she was gorgeous! I remember her! I loved working with Bec Cartwright that was lots of fun, and the storyline of when we finally got together and we had a really romantic date, that was great. Also when we lost some divers off the Blaxland, that storyline was pretty cool. Oh and when Scott got drunk and angry after Dani split up with him, that was kind of fun!
Yeah Scott and Colleen taking a dip in the sea together!
Yes! And I got to walk in front of a car and got to do my own stunts, that sort of thing.
What were the hardest scenes for you to do as an actor?
The hardest scenes for me to do were…probably….any scene with Ada Nicodemou! (laughs) Nah she’s lovely! Hmm the hardest scene? Ah there were some really funny scenes when Scott’s character somehow goes a bit crazy, it hasn’t happened in the UK yet, but he does some things which are completely out of character, with Kim. They wanted a scene where Kim punched me out. Scott’s really quite a nice guy, but they wanted Kim to punch him in the head – so they wrote this scene where I just walked up to Kim and just basically abused him! And said the nastiest things! I found it hard because I just kept saying to myself ‘Why is he doing this?’ Then I thought ‘Well of course he’s doing this, cos they want him to punch me in the head!’ Do you know what I mean? That was really hard! There were 2 scenes like that with just really childish stuff – that stuffs really hard, as you work for 2 years of your life creating a character, a nice character, then all of a sudden they turn it around and make him this monster just for the sake of one scene.
How did you feel when Ella Scott Lynch took over the role of Hayley from Bec Cartwright?
Ah she was fantastic! I really enjoyed working with her, she was a very natural, professional actor. She was a REAL actor, someone who had studied the craft for years, she went to NIDA. It was very hard I think to take on that role. A lot of people were sort of like ‘She’s not blonde’, ‘She wasn’t Bec Cartwright’ – and people can’t get used to that fact. But that’s the producers fault, it’s not her fault. Everyone was saying ‘She’s not this, she’s not that’, but I think she was a really good actor and she did a really good job. It would have been the toughest acting job in Australia I think, taking over from Bec Cartwright as she was so loved.
I would have rather have a really good actress who wouldn’t have looked like Bec, rather than a clone that wasn’t as good an actor!
Well that’s what they went for, the producers decided to go for a really strong actor. In the auditions I was there for the call backs, and they had a lot of blonde girls who looked like Bec, but they thought the strength of the actor was far more important.
The show has changed a lot on the three years you have been on, becoming a lot more melodramatic. Have you noticed these changes on set…
OK, so what’s your opinion on the route that Home and Away is now taking?
I don’t know, I find a lot of people saying too me that it’s getting too much. Who would live in Summer Bay?! Honestly! Who would want to bring their kids up in that town?! With all the stalkers, crazy lunatics, developers….But I think that’s what the producers know that people love. They like the dramas, the producers have to get people in, you know with things like (puts on dramatic voice) “Next Week, Who Dies in Summer Bay?!”
Yeah every other week it seems that someone’s fighting for their life at the moment!
Exactly! And no-one does die! I get kids coming up to me going ‘Does she die, does she die?’ and I go ‘I can’t actually tell you’ and then they’re like ‘Aw I bet she does’ The thing is, does anyone ever die on that show? No! (laughs) I keep wondering whether it’s false advertising! Because in the voiceovers in Australia they’re like (dramatic voice again) ‘One of these people won’t live’
And they either all survive or it’s a minor character that we don’t really care about!
That’s right! But that’s soap, that’s Home and Away! But I loved it, I had the best time. They’re a lovely bunch of people. It’s not an easy job I must admit, especially the way my character was written I always seemed to be put with one of the main female characters – he was with Dani and then he was with Hayley, who were both really popular girls. I felt like I really worked hard all those years, but I did learn a lot!
This week in Oz saw the conclusion of the Hayley/Scott/Kim paternity triangle – what are your feelings on the storyline and do you think it went on for too long?
Definitely! What do you feel? Do you think it went on too long?
Yeah, I haven’t seen the storyline in full yet but from what I’m getting on the forum it definitely went on for too long
Yeah that’s the feedback I’m getting. This is what’s really hard! They brought in Ella to play on the Hayley character, but to also carry on a storyline that everyone was already bored with. I felt that would have been so hard for Ella. I read magazines in Australia that said ‘She’s bloody this and she’s not bloody that’ and it was just so horrible for the girl! She’s come into the toughest job, with the toughest storyline! But you know who suffers the most out of this storyline?
Scott! Because he’s made out to be this complete f*****g idiot. All my mates are going to me ‘Could anyone be that stupid?’ Imagine what that must have been like for me, I worked hard for 2 years, I get to my third year and they give me this storyline – I remember going into the meeting and they were like ‘Yeah we’ve got this great storyline, blah blah blah!’ and when they told me I thought ‘That sounds great!’ But it took me a year to do it! They dragged it out and people stopped caring. It became like ‘Oh god, somebody please tell him!’ I think they finally realised that, and when they did they went ‘Oh well let’s just write them out’ and they go off. I think they just wanted a way out of it as they realised it was going on for too long and that there was no weight to it any more. But can anyone be as stupid as Scott? He got involved with that Amanda girl, and she just lies to him and he walks around in this complete stupor!
Yeah it always seemed like he was so close yet so far! What with Josie telling him in the letter and then him ripping it up!
Yeah I know. I remember one of the head writers saying that to me at the time, ‘We want the audience to be going ‘Oh no it’s so frustrating!” But instead I think they were going ‘Oh boooring, just tell him!!’ The thing is people don’t look at it like ‘Oh the writers did really bad there’ they look at it like ‘Oh that Scott’s bloody boring, that storyline’s so boring.’ It’s a bit unfair cause I thought I did really well and I tried really hard.
Looking back on your character, how do you think Scott will be remembered in years to come? Hopefully not as being a bore?
(laughs) No, hopefully he won’t be remembered as being this stupid dude that was just too nice. I think most people will remember him as riding in on the horse! But it’s funny how his whole image changed. He started off as a real country boy, and then they sent him to Paris and he came back with a haircut and wore some funky clothes. Then he kept wearing the ‘flannies’ – I think he’ll definitely be remembered for wearing the flannelette shirts! Cos so many people say that to me ‘You’re wearing one of those bloody flannelette shirts in every scene!‘ (laughs)
Have you got any other projects lined up for the near future?
Hopefully I’m doing a show in the West End next year, but really I’d love to work in film.
Any plans for panto?
Not as yet, I had an offer for a panto, but I held out on this other show that was happening in London. I was going to be doing it in Australia, but they extended the season of the chap that was currently doing it, so I thought I’d hold out and see if I could get it over here.
Favourite place in the world?
Dalmeny about 4 ½ hours south of Sydney
Last book you read?
‘The Lost Art of Forgiving: Stories of Healing from the Cancer of Bitterness’ by Johann Christoph Arnold
No I don’t
Cate Blanchett, Jack Nicholson, Jude Law and Daniel Craig