When was it you first realised you wanted to become an actor, and from that moment, where did you go from there?
From a very young age I was big lover of movies. I sort of stumbled across my dad’s DVD box – well, it was VHS back then. I remember he was showing me Terminator, Predator, Back to the future – all of the classics and I knew then it was my dream and that I wanted to pursue it. From that point on, I was in high school and I was trying to get into the football team and all my friends were just like “Go and try out for the school play instead”. And this is my thing, acting. Since I left high school I’ve just been going for it with classes and auditions. So pretty much since I was 17…
What has been your favourite part of your experience on Neighbours?
I’ve learnt so much and had so many good times, and as an actor I’ve laughed a cried and had the chance to experience all of these different emotions. I’d probably say, getting to do great work every day and getting to meet so many cool people that I know I’m going to be friends with for the rest of my life and people who have given me their experience and knowledge. The greats – Stefan Dennis, Mr Fletcher, Colette Mann, Jackie Woodburne have all shared their knowledge with me, which is priceless. I’m so lucky they’ve given it to me for free! They’re very generous and passionate actors.
Is there anything you’d change about your character, Mason?
I think Mason’s irrationality is what makes for a lot of storyline, and he’s been a catalyst for a lot of story, but perhaps if he wasn’t so irrational he may have been more likeable, but that really doesn’t bother me because I’m an actor and it’s my responsibility to play the role as truthfully as I can. For instance, there were times during the Robbo storyline where he made some very ethically dubious and controversial decisions. I was reading the script at the time thinking, ‘Ok I have to figure out what this kid is thinking’.
Who would be your dream actor to work with?
It would be a dream to do a movie with Robert Downing Jnr, Guy Pierce, Sam Rockwell and Benedict Cumberbatch.
What’s the most difficult part about being an actor?
I sort of think there’s a slight misconception about acting that it’s dead easy and it’s the dream job – and it is, it’s a very cool lifestyle, but it’s not easy. For instance, working on neighbours, the most difficult thing has been the amount of scenes you’re required to do. My record is 13 scenes in one day. Being able to turn over 5-10 scenes in the one day when you’re already exhausted – that’s difficult! And Mason was difficult because he’s so emotional and emotionally highlighted and severe. He’s so up and down like a rollercoaster. I’d often find myself doing a really happy scene, then a really sad scene, then a really angry scene right after each other – it’s hard! I’d have to learn to control my emotions, which is challenging. So I’d say working hard when you’re absolutely exhausted and also having to control your emotions for the character is the hardest part about being an actor!
What’s the flow through effect of that? When you leave ‘work’ how do you feel when you get home? Are you able to switch these things off?
I put a lot of myself into every character that I do, so yes, it does have repercussions on my personal life, so that’s a part of me growing up as well. You know, learning when to switch it on and when to switch it off. Sometimes I have had people close to me say “can I please speak to Taylor, not Mason”…(laughs). But really that doesn’t happen all of the time. It only happens when you do a scene that requires a lot of emotionality.
When you’re acting how genuinely do you feel the emotions you’re depicting?
It’s a very fine line. You can influence yourself before you get in the scene and try to get in the ballpark of that emotion. For instance, I just watched a scene I did with Ariel Kaplan. In the scene, Mason and Imogen break up. Well, Imogen breaks up with Mason rather. And I was so happy with that scene because at the beginning of the scene Mason’s not disturbed at all, he’s happy and in a minute and a half his whole world crumbles. So I had to take it from being on top of the world to hitting rock bottom in the space of 90 seconds. That’s hard. You just have to focus yourself and think about a time in your life where something similar has happened. And I thought about a break up I’d been through, and I just drew straight from that. It was all there and I was so happy with that scene. Ariel Kaplan was great in that scene too.
If you weren’t an actor what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t acting, I think I’d be writing, directing or producing. So for instance on the side, Kaiya Jones wrote a short film, Coping which made it into the Tropfest top 16 which I was the Executive Producer for. I wrote a screenplay when I was 19 and I’ve put it away because I’ve been doing a lot of shows and just haven’t had time, so that’s been sitting there. But I feel like now is just the right time to pursue that. It’s finished and ready to go. Plus I feel like I’m at the point in my life now where I could play that character perfectly now.