For Robards, 35, the transition to acting has always been a dream. “I had done a few acting lessons and some one-on-one stuff over the years, but it was always sort of tenth on my priority list,” he says. “At the start of the year I was like, ‘I need to start investing in this. Then, right before my wedding, [the Neighbours] audition came through. My agent said, ‘Do you want us to put you forward?’ And I was like, ‘I think I’m ready.’ It was my first proper audition.”
Now, he has just completed filming his role. In a few weeks he’s off to Los Angeles to film a short film. WHO caught up with the newlywed to chat career reinvention and his LA plans.
You must be so excited about your acting debut. But was this always a direction you wanted to head in?
Deep down I've had this burning desire to give the acting stuff a go - it probably started way back when I was 20, when I was Keanu Reeves’ body double in The Matrix.
Wait, you were in The Matrix?
Being on set was really exciting. It's one of my favourite movies - and seeing how it all worked, I thought, "Wow this is really cool. It would be so great to do that sort of thing for a job." But because I was a chiropractor, I was studying. And I studied for so long, eventually I thought, "Well, this is my career now - it's a safer bet."
And your acting ambitions were shelved?
But gradually I thought, “You know what, if I don’t actually give this a go, I’ll never know.” So at the start of the year, I was like, “I have to make this one of my top priorities.” So every week I am either doing a one-on-one acting lesson, or a weekend or evening course.
So your audition and your wedding must have been quite close together?
The week leading up to leaving for the wedding, we were finishing off planning everything, and that’s when the audition came through. I was like, “Oh god, I’ve got so much on my plate. But, I'll have a crack."
How did Anna feel about it all?
She was awesome. Rather than worry and stress – the last thing I wanted – we learnt to turn it into excitement. We figured we could think of it in two ways: think of everything that could go wrong, or we could look at everything that’s going to go right.
That’s a good mindset ...
I am a big believer in putting yourself out there in the right position, at the right time, doing the right training, so that when the right opportunities come, you are more likely to see them. Anna and I are super-supportive of each other – that’s why I married her!
How did the role fit in with your honeymoon?
I managed to get the lines down, did the auditions, and it turned out it was commencing shooting the week we returned – it fit in perfectly. It was a seven-week role and started, literally, the week we returned from our honeymoon.
Tell us about your character ...
Pierce Greyson is an investor, a very wealthy businessman who has built up his wealth through hard work and being an intelligent guy. He’s very self-assured, hard to read and he doesn’t give a lot away. It’s not always plain sailing in Erinsborough and the stakes for him get much higher.
At the same time, Anna was filming Trial By Kyle, too, right?
That filmed while I was filming ... they still haven’t announced [whether it will go ahead as a series], but from what I’ve read, it rated the best of all [the pilots], and got plenty of chat on Twitter, which is what they were looking for. Finger’s crossed!
Would you be open to extending your role on Neighbours if they asked?
I would definitely go down if they had another role like that - another eight-week stint would be great. If there was a long-term role, that would be a big lifestyle change for Anna and me. It would mean moving to Melbourne and giving up chiropractics for good. At the moment I am able to put things on hold and have breaks. To do things for a couple of years would be a big decision, [but] it's definitely where I want to head.
Would you guys consider relocating to LA to pursue your acting further?
I would love to. But I’m at a point where ... a lot of young actors, they have flexibility, but where we’re at, with potentially having a family soon, I’m not in a position where I can go over and spend a couple of years hanging out in LA. But these days, lots of auditions come through to Australia for American series. If they like you, they can make it happen.
I’d move over if that opportunity came about. I will do everything I can to make that happen and make it work from here. But that is where I would love to be. I’m looking at potentially doing a little short film in the States soon. I’m going to keep working on my American accent. It’s nerve-racking, going into acting classes with people you don’t know, having to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. But we’ll keep enjoying the journey.
Neighbours airs 6:30pm weekdays on Eleven.
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