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Interviews > Anthony Engelman

Between 1994 and 1996, and again in 2003, Anthony Engelman played loveable Stonefish, the first of the Rebecchi family, still represented in Ramsay Street to this day, to hit Neighbours. Here, Anthony shares some memories of his time on the show and tells us what he's been up to since leaving Erinsborough...

Can you tell us a bit about your acting career prior to your first Neighbours appearance?
I started acting when I was still at school. It was a great way to get out of class. I did heaps of guest roles and a few lead roles in some series and a sitcom that did not quite work out, but the main thing was I had lots of fun, no matter what the job was.

You made your Neighbours debut in 1992 with a few appearances as school bully Brett Sharp. What do you remember about that role and the filming experience?
I was only 17 yo. It was a pretty cold day. Ben Geurens (the little actor I bullied) was nice and I felt bad having to grab him but all in all I already knew a couple of crew members so it felt very comfortable. I was still learning about how to act in front of a camera.

How did your next role as Stonefish come about? Was it just a typical audition for you?
I guess Jan Russ just thought I could do it after Brett Sharp had made his appearance. She called my agent and offered me the role. No audition. That was quite flattering to me at the time. The producers were happy with the way I played the bully role before and they must have thought it was easy to get me in again. It was only supposed to be a couple of weeks work but it turned into a few years.

Would you describe the character of Stonie? Did you enjoy playing him?
Stonie's forever young. He's a guy looking to have some fun in every situation possible. He doesn't take the world too seriously but has a deep love for his family and an undying loyalty to his friends. It's fun playing him because he can make fun of other characters. That's his character. Stonie will try to make sure nobody on Ramsay Street gets too big for their boots.

Do you have any idea why he was called Stonefish?
He started life on Neighbours as a bully. It was an ugly name for an ugly character. As far as I know, the producers had no idea that he would become a Ramsay Street resident and that they would be forced to come up with his whole family and so many other fish names as a result. Note that the stonefish is the deadliest fish in the sea. Its poison is lethal if the stonefish is stepped on.

Was there anyone you particularly liked working with, or any storylines you especially enjoyed from almost three years playing Stonie?
Working with Ryan Moloney (Toadfish) was always good fun.

How did your departure from the series in 1996 come about?
It was time to move on.

Where did your career take you in the years that followed your departure?
After travelling for a couple of years, I have been mostly working behind the camera. Writing, directing and editing. It's not as much fun as acting but it's very exciting and when it works well, it's extremely fulfilling.

2003 saw you briefly reprise the role of Stonie for Toadie and Dee’s wedding. How did that come about? Did you enjoy your return to the show?
They asked me if I wanted to come back and I thought 'why not?' It was nice to see a few old friends again.

How had things changed on-set in the 7 years since you left?
It was pretty much the same as it had always been. A few new faces but I felt right at home.

With Ryan Moloney still in the cast as his brother, Toadie, is there any chance that we might see Stonie back on Ramsay Street in the future?
Who knows? You'll have to stay tuned to find out.

Do you still get recognised in public thanks to your Neighbours role?
Not any more. People think they went to high school with you or worked in an office with you once.

Are you still in touch with anyone from your Neighbours days?
Not really.

Have you ever been a Neighbours viewer?
It's not my cup of tea but I am constantly surprised by who watches the show.

What are you up to these days?
Writing, directing and editing. Occasionally I do some acting.

Finally, as the show begins its 23rd season on Australian screens, what do you think accounts for its enduring success?
It never tried to be anything it wasn't. Good characters going through dramatic events will always hold some interest for us as humans. The international popularity of the show is a real blessing also.

Interview by Steve. Added on 24th March 2007