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Interviews > Paul Cousins

Paul Cousins recently arrived on UK screens as barman, and love interest for Georgia, Pete Clark. Here, he chats to us about his acting career and his work on Neighbours.

Can you tell us a little about your career before joining Neighbours as Pete?
Sure. My first paid acting role was a television commercial where I played a chippy (carpenter). My character was doing some renovation work with his top off, a lovely older lady and her daughter walk past & the grandma was checking me out. The next day, the daughter comes back in and tells me to "put my shirt on" as after seeing me topless, her mum had a heart attack! Pretty funny when I look back on it now! hahaha!!!

Since then I've done much more serious roles, feature films & lots of television here in Australia, most recently before Neighbours I had a fantastic opportunity to work with Craig McLachlan (Neighbours/Home & Away) & Nadine Garner (City Homicide/A Country Practice) on The Doctor Blake Mysteries. My character was lots of fun and being set in the late 1950's post World War II era, it was a completely new experience to retell a period piece for me. Very exciting & working with Australian cinematic royalty was a real highlight for me.

You’ve had a few other minor roles in Neighbours in the last few years – what do you remember about filming those?
I remember being pretty nervous! Neighbours was probably one of the first major shows I worked on, you end up putting a whole lot more pressure on yourself. It can be hard when you are starting out to just settle back, listen and be present, that's why roles like the minor ones I started with are a good experience, there's a certain familiarity that comes with working on bigger productions, that only comes from actually doing it.

How did the role of Pete come about? Was it just a typical audition for you?
I got a call from my agent saying that Neighbours wanted to test me for the role of Pete, we worked out a date and I got my sides and a character brief. As soon as I read the brief I wanted to play this character!

Did you enjoy playing Pete? How would you describe the character?
I did enjoy playing Pete, we had a lot of fun with the character really early on, he was trying so hard to be a good barman and keep Sheila (Colette Mann) happy, although not having much experience as a barman he was a bit of a rookie on the cocktail front.

Pete's just your typical guy, easy going, gets along with everyone and loves going out and being with his mates. The thing that struck me was that essentially Pete's a good guy with a big heart, sometimes, like all of us, he just makes some bad decisions.

Were there any actors you particularly enjoyed working with?
Stefan Dennis & Alan Fletcher were awesome to work with, those guys are a class act both on and offset, quite surprisingly to me, they are both incredibly funny too!!

How did it feel to be working alongside such an established cast?
It felt like being the new guy in class. All the other characters and their relationships to each other were already established, walking into that, and building a completely new network for my character was actually pretty fun! The Neighbours world moves along at lightning pace, so to have too make those decisions about what each new character means to my character and how that affects Pete on the fly is, well, pretty epic fun!!!

How did Neighbours compare to other Australian drama series that you’ve worked on?
Neighbours is great, the cast and crew are all super tight, the sheer volume of story telling they get through is absolutely incredible!!! Due to the super fast turnaround, there is hardly ever time to go back and play, having said that, it just means everyone really depends on each other to be firing on all cylinders, like one big happy family!

Pete was involved in both comedy scenes – as the useless barman – and some drama with Georgia and the drugs story. Do you prefer acting out the comedy or the more serious stuff?
Good question Steve! I believe that drama is much more powerful when comedy is used in the same piece and vice versa. If it's all drama, or all comedy, we don't get the opportunity to take audiences on the emotional roller coaster with big high's and low's, therefore potentially negating any impact the piece may have. So for me it's definitely both!

Would you ever consider returning to the show, either as Pete or a new character, if the opportunity arose?
Yes. Pete leaves with a fair bit of heat on him, and there was a whole bunch of serious accusations flying around Ramsay Street that need to be accounted for, in the right way of course.

Have you ever been a Neighbours viewer yourself?
Yes, it's addictive!

Where do you hope to see your acting career go from here?
From here I'd love to do some work with James Cameron, or Martin Scorsese, right now I'm working on some pretty big stuff that I can't say too much about just yet!

Finally, what do you think is the secret to Neighbours' success?
It's the simplicity of it. Extraordinary things happening to ordinary people. These characters represent a cross segment of society, and most of the audience can relate, when we see a character go through similar challenges we might face in real life, it can give us hope, strength and resolve. That and it's awesome!!!!

Interview by Steve. Added on 23rd May 2013