What’s it been like joining the show?
It’s been great! I think because the character came in with such a blank slate and no connections with any of the Ramsay Street residents, it limited who I had scenes with. But I think now John has found his place in the community – which is starting to lead to more storylines with the other cast.
What was the hardest thing about joining the show?
Oh, learning everyone’s name! It’s such a huge building, with so many people. I felt terrible for the first couple months. It’s not fair – everyone else only has one new name to learn, but the newbie has to learn hundreds. I also made the mistake of calling people by their character names – only two weeks ago I stopped calling Olympia ‘Paige’!
How much research did you do into amnesia?
I was lucky enough to speak with two different people who had experienced amnesia first hand. The first was a woman whose mother had suffered from amnesia and her insight was great into how the people around you would deal with it. The second was a woman who had dealt with memory loss as a nurse but also suffered from it after falling off a horse and knocking herself out. Of course the writing department had done massive amounts of research into it, so I was lucky to be guided by them and learn from the direction they were taking both the character and the storyline.
How important was it for you to know who John really was in order to play the character?
When I got cast, I didn’t know exactly who John was going to become. In fact on my first day, with the pace that Neighbours works at, there were certain parts of the story and scripts that have only just recently become relevant for the character and the fateful day that he lost his memory. There were certain elements that I was oblivious to on that first day of shooting – I just did the scene as it was written and didn’t realise until months later of some of the consequences of John’s actions that day. Even the explanation as to why I was heading into Lassiter’s on the day of the explosion didn’t get revealed to me until three months later – it was a lot of trust to have in the writers.
If he could be anyone who would it be?
Not many people know this but I have been a volunteer fire-fighter for eleven years. So I would have loved to do something like that. Except I think there is less relevance for a fire fighter to be in a soap than maybe a cop? There don’t tend to be that many large fires that often in Erinsborough – so I’m not sure if John would be that busy.
Mandy enters this week, what’s her story?
Something I was able to learn from my research into amnesia is that when familiar faces, objects or moments re-enter your life it can trigger the return of lost memories. So John feels confused that he could have enjoyed such a close relationship with Mandy yet remember nothing about her. Everything happens so quickly… it’s overwhelming for John.