How did you feel when you heard that a new era of the Willis family was going to be introduced in 2013?
The Willis family have a spread of interests and I must say that the current cast just work together so well. Kip Gamblin is just a wonderful father to it all and he’s carrying on for me which is lovely. There are other people coming in and going out but stories are like that, neighbourhoods are like that, they never stay the same. If it stayed the same then it would be a bit boring, the changes that the characters experience make the show interesting for people to watch.
What is it like working with a new actor in the role of Brad?
It’s quite an acceptable thing now for actors to contribute and put their stamp on a character. It’s certainly done a lot in shows from the UK so I think one just has to accept that situation. The public come to understand that you can’t trail off with people for the rest of their lives, there’s a new element coming in and that new element brings an interest and a great deal of new thoughts.
How has the Willis family developed and grown?
The writers have done a fine job in making sure there’s a balance in attitudes and ideas within the family over the years. I think you just have to look at life itself and imitate it and I think we do that well in the Willis family.
How do you think Brad will cope with the passing of his father?
I think the passing of anybody’s relative, especially a mother or father, is a really hard thing. I think Brad will in actual fact pull in his children, and dare I say, become a bit like his father. Someone of principle, who is caring and considerate of his children. Trying to help them get through life because none of us last forever and we’ve got to look out for each other.
Has Jason seen your recent Neighbours appearances?
I believe he’s seen a few of them! My grand daughter called Jemma Donovan has just done a television series for French and British television, it’s called Spotless, and she’s stunning. Unfortunately she’s in London and I can’t see what she’s doing but they send me disks and I put them on to watch. So it’s going the other way really, I see what they’re doing. Jason is older now and thinks whatever work I’m doing at my age is fantastic!
Advice you would give to aspiring actors wanting to get into the entertainment industry?
It’s so easy for young people to be swallowed up with the bright lights and a Hollywood attitude but you’ve got to get down to basics. For example, if you want to be a singer you can’t just go out and sing. You’ve got to train your voice to do it and you’ve also got to train yourself to absorb as much music as you can. For a young person I would, I wish I had done this myself, learn an instrument because you not only learn rhythm you also learn mathematics and English as well. It’s a wonderful situation where people come together and enjoy watching doing what you do.
If I was going to be an actor I would do this and go to the theatre. If it meant cleaning the stage first and doing all the shitty jobs you would learn from that and take these lessons with you. As an actor you interpret whatever touches you and the more you see the more you can interpret. If you go to the theatre it will give you time to learn and study and I would think that having this sort of grounding can only help you in the future.