Interview conducted by Karl in December 2004
Can you give us a little background on your acting work before Home and Away?
Compared to some actors, I was a bit of a late bloomer. I wasn’t serious about a career until I was about 22, although I’d done a few jobs before this. As far as gigs go, my TV Tome profile is pretty accurate. Some weirdo runs the site though… Krazy Karl!!!
How did you get the part as Dan Baker on the show?
I actually auditioned for the role of Peter Baker. After the final call backs (Ada was reading opposite us), they eventually rang to say they would offer me his brother Dan. Knowing my recent luck at auditions I thought ‘great, a weeks work as a guestie to compensate’. Was quite happy to learn he would be a series regular.
Many people haven’t taken too well to Dan’s character, considering him very bland. Why do you think this is?
Umm, not really sure how to answer this one. To be honest, I haven’t heard many people describe him as bland, apart from this site (but then maybe other people are too scared to say that to me personally!!!). The bland may come from the fact that Dan’s on screen introduction to the Bay has focused primarily on his newly formed relationship with Leah. There hasn’t been much focus on his life and character developments occurring off screen. Because the Dan/Leah relationship was quite quick to develop, it was important that the writers focus a lot of time on this development. I have enjoyed the way it has developed. Both characters come from dysfunctional marriages, but have found a peace with each others circumstances. And one of the things I love about Dan is that he doesn’t buy into the drama of situations too much, which can sometimes happen in this kind of genre (well he does over react a bit with his brother, but hey, he’s human too). There are some more intimate and interesting stories in his life coming up, so please hang in there… I think he has a great integrity, without creating a lot of angst you could expect from a serial drama (or some would say soapie!).
Without giving anything away, do you like where the character of Dan has thus far gone, in both the episodes that have been screened and those yet to be screened? What is your favourite aspect of Dan Baker, and your least favourite?
I really love this character. I love the earthy qualities he has, and how he deals with situations without too much fuss. And the fact that the Baker family is new to the Bay, and the show, gives a great scope for story developments, whether stemming from his history, or future endeavours. Most favourite aspect would be his honesty. Least favourite is his 6’2” stature in love with a 5’1” girl
What has it been like working with the cast of Home And Away, particularly working with Ada?
Absolutely brilliant…. now the real answer. They’re all a pack of bastards!!! No seriously, I have worked on a fair few productions before, but I could easily say this has been the most relaxed and warmest bunch of cast and crew members. This pleasantly surprised me seeing how fast we shoot the episodes. But everyone knows their job, and just gets in there and does it, while enjoying each others company at the same time. Quite important in any work environment. As for Ada, she is a beautiful actor. She was very accommodating with me when I started, and her relaxed and easy going approach to her work makes my job that much easier. We get on really well, except if we’ve been on set for a long period of time, then she starts to pinch me!!…. But then again she’s got girls germs!!!
Now that you have been on the show for a few months, are people starting to recognize you while you are out in public? How did you feel when you were asked for your first autograph after starting out on Home And Away?
Yes, in fact more than I thought. When I did Big Sky and Snobs, there was very little publicity involved, however this production has more than I’ve experienced before. Being a bit older (in Summer Bay terms!) than some other cast members, I wasn’t sure how recognised I would be, but it has really taken off. To be honest it doesn’t faze me really. I now understand how popular this show is, across a broad spectrum of ages, so the attention is understandable. And hey, who doesn’t mind their ego stroked once in a while! Signing autographs is fine; the weird thing was creating one. I felt like such a doofus!
Did you ever used to watch Home And Away before you got a job on the show? If so, what does it feel like to become a part of something that has been going so long, entering a fictional town that has been around forever?
I used to watch it a bit back round the Bobby and Carly days, as my sister had control of the remote when Home and Away was on back then. But like my other male friends back then, we all enjoyed watching it, but tried not to show it. I do feel quite proud to be part of this great production with its unique and admirable history. It was strange when I got the job, because I had 2 months to kill before I started, so I was watching the show to familiarise myself. It was when the car went over the cliff with Seb and co… Well I became addicted after that and kept forgetting that I was about to enter this world as Dan. That was bizarre yet exciting.
How do you personally get yourself into character before filming a scene? Do you just start to think like Dan Baker would, or do you do something specific and notable? Also, when you have a particularly emotional scene, what do you do to make the emotion appear real?
I haven’t really been an actor who uses any particular “methods” (mainly because I have never bothered to study them). Over the years I have tended to base my acting on instincts, rather than any formulae. But I can never describe my process that makes any sense, so I won’t even attempt it. More emotionally charged scenes; again I use instinct, and sometimes refer to specific parts of my life that may be relevant, which apparently is a “method”, so yes I must be a hypocrite!
I read somewhere that you do a Pantomime every year? How different is this to acting on a television soap opera? Is this something you will continue to do now that you are on Home And Away?
Very different to TV/camera acting which is why I love it even more. I have fallen into a lot of ‘variety’ type jobs in the past and love the transition between different mediums of performing. I love the technique required for TV, and that for stage. I still work as an MC/Host since being on the show, and hope to do some Panto work in England in the coming years…. It’s an original idea I came up with, because soap actors from Australia have never done this before!!!!
Tell us a bit about yourself, when you are away from the camera. Is there any hobbies or interests that you keenly follow, or any television shows that you frequently enjoy?
I tend to class myself as a bit of a nanna in my social time. My DVD collection is fast expanding, and my Thai and pizza takeaways are on speed dial. A good movie, good dinner and good company are my ideal social nights. I’ve sung in cover bands in the past, so any venue that’s loud and/or smokey is a bit of a turn off. TV wise, I love the comedies. ‘The Office’ (my favourite series so far), Kath and Kim, The Simpsons (the Fox 8 version, not the 7pm Channel 10 version!!) to name a few.
Assuming “The Powers That Be” want to keep you on indefinitely, do you see Home And Away as a long term thing (ie more than 1 or 2 years) or something that is just a stepping stone towards a bigger future? Would you like to one day try to crack Hollywood?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started on the show, but I’m loving my time on it so far, so who knows what the future holds. My goal at this point in time would be to continue working on Australian dramas. I have no desire to do the “Hollywood” thing; LA didn’t really appeal as a place to live when I visited once. However if they dangle the big money carrot, then it’s the best city in the world!!! No really I love the Australian lifestyle too much to give it in and start again in a new country. Plus I’d prefer to tell an Australian story.