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Tristan Bancks on playing cops and robbers, being a Home and Away villain, and Ginger Meggs


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Two Wolves is a highly praised mystery thriller about a boy, Ben Silver, who finds himself on the run with his parents from police. I won't spoil the plot but it's a gripping read for the over 10s. Were you the kind of boy, like Ben, who used to play cops and robbers growing up?         

I constantly blurred the line between truth and fiction as a kid and so my characters do that, too. Whenever I saw a movie I would get inspired to make my own. I bought a video camera with friends as a teenager and we shot horror movie scenes. The movie was called Within the Woods, just like Ben's movie in Two Wolves.

At the age of 12 I decided I was going to become an actor but, prior to that, I was definitely going to be a police officer. It was a fantasy that I was never cut out for but, in telling stories, I feel as though I have found the kind of excitement, suspense and action that I imagined a police officer would encounter, but without people shooting at me. Yet.

You may not have become a teen detective but you did become an actor, at least for a short while. Two years in Home and Away, wasn't it, playing not the hero but a villain called Tug O'Neal? 

Yes, a villain. I worked on the show as a guest during my final year of high school while doing my exams and started working full-time there literally the day after my final exam. It bred a strong work ethic from the age of 17 and gave me the opportunity to work with older, experienced actors and to sit with directors in the control room and editing suite and ask lots of questions.
How do you rate yourself as an actor, and with so much crossover between acting and writing, do you have a preference for writing versus acting? 
I haven't acted in years. I think I'm much more suited to writing. I love being in that moment in a scene, responding to what the other actor is doing, but the life of an actor is very challenging. I admire people who dedicate their lives to it. I love, as a writer, that I can find a cafe, open my notebook or laptop and dive down into the world of the story. It's difficult to do that as an actor. You're always waiting for someone to say, 'Yes, you have the role. You can do your work.' I do about 80 or 90 days' speaking each year at festivals and in schools and acting is very useful in bringing the books to life for an audience. 

You are the great, great nephew of the creator of Ginger Meggs. Do you think it's in the family blood to create and inhabit imaginary characters?

I love the idea of storytelling being in the blood, so much better than anaemia, and of Ginger as a ghost child in my own family. I was always immensely proud of Jimmy Bancks having been part of my family. My grandfather, his nephew, was Jim and my middle-name is Jim, too. The Ginger originals on my grandmother's living room wall made me feel it was possible to make a living doing creative work.

And two ideas in Ginger Meggs have influenced the development of Tom Weekly, my character in the My Life series of books: You can't win, but you can have a lot of fun trying. And that your character can be constantly in trouble but that he would never actively do anything mean to anyone. 

Speaking of Tom Weekly's  My Life and Other Massive Mistakes, what has been your massive mistake?

I never used to feel that anything was a mistake but, as a parent, I worry all the time that I'm not doing it right, that I could be better. I don't feel as though I am alone in this. It helps me write flawed parent characters. I promise that I haven't committed a crime, kidnapped my children and gone out on the lam like the Silvers but I can understand what it means to be a parent and to be responsible for other people's lives and that this involves making many good and bad decisions.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/tristan-bancks-on-playing-cops-and-robbers-being-a-home-and-away-villain-and-ginger-meggs-20151218-gl8d97.html#ixzz3ulyKmnn5 

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Seems like only yesterday Tug was pounding he beat in Summer Bay. OK he was no Don Corleone but I remember him as someone who liked to resolve problems with enemies through violence. Bullying Damo and framing Shane. However I also saw him mature by the time he left in 1994.

Nice to see Tristan look back on his H&A time as well as bis career afterwards.

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Poor Tug, after going through all that character development and turning out to be nice enough boy, he's being remembered as a Summer Bay Villain :lol: Yes, he was pretty terrible in the beginning, and he pulled some not that great stunts and tricks throughout the rest of his stay on the show, but I think calling him "not the hero, but a villain" is too harsh. 

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