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Breaking The Taboo

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Breaking the taboo

Herald Sun

January 14 2009

Home and Away’s Todd Lasance is desperate to do justice to real-life victims of abuse.

Abuse storylines are always difficult to depict. Not only must scriptwriters tread delicately around the sensitive topic, the actor involved wants to do justice to the victims who have fallen prey to such a crime.

For Home and Away star Todd Lasance, who plays wild child Aden Jefferies, the latter is paramount.

Though he was nervous about the intricacies of bringing such a plot to the small screen, he jumped at the chance to play out such a gruelling storyline in which his character was sexually abused by his grandfather.

“I wanted to do it 100 per cent justice because there are people out there, more than we probably realise, who have experienced what my character has gone through,” he says.

“I just wanted to do justice to them. I didn’t want people out there watching it thinking, ‘No, that’s not how it works’ or going ‘You haven’t moved me the way you should have moved me in that situation’. So it’s been a real challenge to play.”

Working with the writers, Lasance devised a storyline that would not only stretch him as an actor but highlights the taboo issue.

For more than four months he went through the highs and lows that most abuse victims suffer, playing out the harrowing and draining scenes.

“Emotionally, physically and psychologically you come to the set and you put yourself in this state of mind and it’s not something you switch on 30 seconds before you shoot,” he says.

“After you do a scene like this your body goes, ‘Wow, what’s going on?’ because the reaction might not be how you are feeling.”

A keen sportsman who pushed aside his aspirations of becoming a professional tennis player to focus on acting, Lasance drew aspiration from a male relative who has gone through a similar situation.

“I spoke to him about it and over the years listened to him talk about what happened, how he dealt with the situation and how it affects you as you get older,” Lasance says.

“He was in his early teens when it happened and he is middle aged now, so just seeing how he coped...he went through quite similar experiences to Aden – the huge rebellion years and later on in life the attempt to reconnect with those people who had betrayed you.”

Lasance would prepare for the scenes by sitting alone in an empty room.

“We worked on a lot of mental images to get me to this state of mind,” he says. “We would sit there and my acting coach would say ‘Picture what it’s like to be so vulnerable, but so taken advantage of in this room’.

“I would picture what it would be like for an authoritative figure to take advantage of you. It’s haunting stuff.”

Lasance, who shares a home with his mate and co-star Mark Furze, began his regular stint on Home and Away in 2007, amid a wave of anxiety and “what ifs”.

At the time Lasance – who also featured in the Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson romantic comedy Fool’s Gold – was offered Home and Away, he was also called back for one of the 12 primary characters on Steven Spielberg’s new TV war epic The Pacific.

“If I didn’t take Home and Away it was a massive risk,” he says. “I didn’t know if The Pacific role would come off and I couldn’t afford to risk that.”

Lasance has Hollywood in his eyes and believes the current Home and Away storyline will help show US agents his acting strength.

“It’s bittersweet because everyday I’m doing something I love,” he says.

“I don’t really have a plan, only a ballpark plan that by 2010 I would like to be established in the US. It sounds all impulsive and great, but it’s also the scary unknown.”

Home and Away

Channel Seven, weeknights (from Monday), 7pm

Summer Bay drama

Duration: 30 minutes

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I really think that, out of all portrayals of a victim of abuse that I've seen, Todd does one of the best jobs. He can really make you feel almost what he's feeling, and show just what Aden's going through. Must be really hard to do something like that though, and take a lot of talent.

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I can never get over how well Todd portrayed his character's storyline. When I watch him on screen I am drawn in to the story, its really amazing what he does. it looks like he has done a lot of work and put a lot of effort into Aden, the acting coach stuff sounds very draining. In my opinion Todd is the best actor H&A has at the moment! I really hope he fulfils his dream of becoming a Hollywood actor!

Todd deserves a Logie this year!

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It's interesting to learn that he has a relative who's gone through it and who he can talk to about it on a personal level, because his portrayal of Aden doesn't even seem like acting sometimes, it's just so real and raw. Has anyone ever won Best New Talent and Best Actor in the same year? Because I think he deserves both.

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I thought the way he acted throughout that storyline was amazing. It is the one time I cried to something on the television because I really felt for the character. He has a way of portraying all emotions. I hope he achieves his goal of working in the US because he has a real talent.

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Todd's portrayal was simply brilliant. Emotional, realistic and came across very natural. He should be proud of all the scenes & the storyline as a whole. The boy is extremely talented. Deserves to win a logie, if he doesn't it would be a total travesty.

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