Shaun Wood spent six years of his childhood on Home and Away playing Christopher Fletcher, the son of Tom and Pippa. Over a decade after he left the show, Shaun has been kind enough to share with BTTB his memories, and photos, of growing up in Summer Bay.
Interview conducted by Dan in June 2008
How did you get the role of Chris? Was it your first role in television?
At the age of 3, I was shopping with my mother. She was approached by an agent and asked if she was interested in me joining the agency. My first casting call, not long after I joined, was for the role on Home and Away, as Christopher. From my understanding around 150 kids auditioned for the role and it was then worked down to 5 potential kids. From there I was chosen. The part was original contract was on for 6 months, but the role ended up stretching almost 6 years. It was my first role on television.
How did it feel to have a continuous role on TV at such a young age?
Starting from such a young age, it was just a normal part of my life. I always enjoyed getting out of school so I thought it was great.
At the time, were you aware of just how big Home and Away was?
It was quite obvious how big H&A was. Every second person I know watches or has watched it at some point. It’s just one of those Aussie soaps that everyone knows and loves. All my friends in school would always talk about it so had an idea of its popularity.
What are your fondest memories of working on the show?
They would have to be the time that I spent with Debra (Pippa) and Ryan (Sam). I spent a lot of time with Debra as just about every scene I was in would also have her in it. I also remember that I always looked up to Ryan. He was always this cool guy in my head and I always wanted to be just like him. The people I worked with were always really nice to me so I guess all my best memories are experiences with other cast members.
Yourself and Lewis Devaney were the two youngest on set for a while -how did you get on and what did you do about schooling?
Lewis and I did not see each other that regularly. We had two stories going on and unless we were scripted to the same day we had no contact, however when we did each other it was always a lot of fun – I was so use to having such older people around, we got along great.. When it came to schooling we had a tutor that was in the studio all the time. However, being young and thinking that my schooling was not important I often chose not to go and as a result spent a lot of time with my mother in the Green room, usually bored out of my head.
I did however recently get back in contact with Lewis. I have not spoken to him much, but I hope to catch up with him sometime in the near future.
How did it feel to leave the show after spending such a big portion of your childhood on it?
It was quite weird for a while. I had become so used to it all that when it was gone I missed it quite a lot. On the other hand, it allowed me to focus a bit more on my schooling and catch back up with all the stuff I had missed out on over the years. I mean, I wasn’t on set on a daily basis or anything; however I did miss quite a lot of school due to it. But don’t get me wrong, I would never change any of it given the opportunity. It’s a part of my life that I love to look back on and say “Hey, there I am” and have a good laugh every now and then.
Did you keep in touch with any of the cast members?
Unfortunately no, I didn’t really keep in contact with anyone. I was still young and mobile phones and those things weren’t quite as popular as they are these days, man even computers weren’t that popular. I couldn’t just say, “Hey Debra, can I grab your facebook or MySpace”, hehe. I guess that is one of the things I regret the most. I would love to catch up with some of the guys sometime in the future.
Have you had any acting roles since you left the show?
I have done the odd commercial here and there and I also had a small role in an Australian movie called “Somewhere in the Darkness” but apart from that I didn’t really do anything during my early to late teens. However I have recently started to gain interest in the business again and who knows? There are a few things coming up, I guess I’ll take it all as it comes.
When Chris returned to the bay briefly in 2003, were you asked to reprise the role? If not, would you have returned if you were asked?
Nar, I was never approached to return as Chris in 2003. I was actually quite surprised when my character returned, especially as I had not been contacted at all. I literally sat down to watch the show one night and suddenly Pippa and my character returned, it was quite a shock.
After I left Home and Away in ’98 I stayed with my agent for a couple of years, however I lived over 2 hours from Sydney, where my agent was located and the majority of the castings were held, so as a result (and also as I was young teenager who could not take myself to castings, and with more of an interest in doing things like playing soccer and playing computer games) I chose to leave the agency for a couple of years. So perhaps I was not contacted due to the fact that I was no longer in an agency and not on the books or maybe I just was not right for the part. Either way I would have returned to the show if I was asked.
Did you see any of the return storyline (Chris coming to terms with his sexuality), and if so what was your opinion of it?
Yeah, I saw it all. I copped quite a bit of stink in real life over the whole things, but it didn’t bother me. If that’s what they wanted to do with my character than that’s fair enough. I think it would have been a lot of fun to play the role if I had been asked to return for the show.
What are you up to now?
I finished my schooling two years ago and since than I have been travelling a lot. I got a fulltime job as soon as I left school and worked my bum off for 8 months. I was doing ridiculous hours, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week saving as much money as I could. I really wanted to see the world. Finally I saved enough money and I went out and bought a ticket to England. I spent a fair bit of time travelling around Europe; I visited England, France, and Spain and also headed off to Morocco. I really enjoy spending time at each destination. I guess I’m not the type of person that wants to just see a country; I want to experience each culture and live like a local would in each destination. After that I returned home and kicked around for a couple of months. Than one of my good friends moved back to his home country, Thailand, and I decided that I was going to go and stay with him. I spent 3 months living in Bangkok and have just recently returned home from that trip.
On top of that I have also been training in a discipline called Parkour. I have been training for around 4 years now, and this was also a major part of my motivation for travelling to Europe. It started in a small town just outside Paris called Lisses. A close friend and I both visited the town and spent time training with the locals. It was an amazing experience.
Since than I have also became interested in stunts, and have been doing a lot of live productions, TVC’s and have a few big projects coming up soon. I am also heading back out to Europe at the End of July and will be out there until early September.
I have a lot going on at the moment and am quite happy where everything is going.