Author: Interview Paul Connolly
Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Sunday Life
an early knack for mimicry led to soap superstardom for this actor, who has found his feet again on TV.1. WunderkindThis would have been taken in about 1979 when I was three. I grew up in Sydney's north-west on the outskirts of suburbia. At times I felt like an only child because my brother, Richard, and sister, Karlene, were seven and 10 years older than me respectively. I never saw a lot of my sister and I had a slightly - what's the diplomatic way to put it? - difficult relationship with my brother. But later in life we ended up purchasing a house together. I'm not sure why I was the only kid to get a German name. Perhaps my dad, Rudi, who came to Australia as a young adult, saw it as a last chance to recognise his German heritage. As a kid and through my early teens I wished I'd been called something more normal. But after I got into TV, it served me well because it was slightly different.2. shall we dance?Although I wasn't in high school, this photo was taken in the auditorium of what would be my high school a year or so later. I can't remember the occasion, but it seems my mum, Dawn, and I went to some function as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Mum was a primary school teacher and taught all three of us. Dad was a plumber. I wasn't a performer back then, but it would have been in Mum's mind because I could recite the lines of every TV advertisement with the same inflection and feeling. I think she thought I was destined to be an actor. In year 6, I started doing Saturday drama classes and it was around then I got my first "professional" job in a McDonald's commercial.3. star turnOnce I was in high school I continued drama classes and scored another commercial, for Cadbury. But when I was nearly 16, I auditioned for a role on Home and Away and got it. Once I made it on air, the recognition was instant and quite bizarre. I didn't realise what being in Home and Away would be like. This photo was taken after I started on the show. These are my high-school friends - and my mate's mum - at her holiday home on the Central Coast [Brummer is centre, wearing a hat]. I'm still in contact with the majority of this group. It was good to get away from the hustle and bustle of the set. 4. reel lifeMy sister Karlene - who's in this photo with me from 2005 -was very supportive and when I started on Home and Away she set up a fan club to help me deal with the fan mail. It was amazing, the response, but I was always determined to keep my feet on the ground and not believe the publicity. In fact, my down-to-earth attitude, if anything, had an adverse effect - which was why I decided to leave the show after about four years. A big part of me wanted to get a "real" job - whether in the industry, labouring, or whatever - to make sure I didn't become full of myself. Whatever will be will be, I thought.5. miles from homeThrough most of [the 2000s] I did mainly rope-access work, such as high-rise window cleaning. I had no regrets about quitting Home and Away, and always found it ridiculous to read comments suggesting I must have found it hard to see [former Home and Away co-star] Melissa George making it big in Hollywood. It was my choice to leave, just as it was my choice to seek involvement in Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities. This is me on set [second from left] with, I have to point out, a real moustache. I was lucky to get on the show and work with such a great cast and crew. I'm 32 now, I'm not married, no kids and pretty much single, so hopefully the day is close when I will no longer be referred to as "former Home and Away star".Underbelly: The Golden Mile airs on Sundays at 8.30pm on Nine.
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