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Interviews > Trent Huen

Between 1998 and 2000, Trent Huen played Eden Uni's answer to Alan Sugar, law student and businessman extraordinaire Tuong Pham. Here, actor Trent Huen shares some of his memories of the role...

Where had your career taken you before your Neighbours appearance in 1998?
I had just finished a 3 year Acting and Performance Degree and done a number of TV guest roles.

How did the role of Tuong Pham come about?
I guess Tuong Pham was a representation of young Vietnamese Australians – a lot of whom despite suffering through the refugee boat experience, end up doing quite well for themselves; studying hard and getting into courses like Law. Tuong was a law student – actually my second choice if I didn’t get offered a place in Acting.

Did you enjoy playing him? How would you describe the character?
Tuong was an ambitious guy who is generally well liked. A law graduate, always confident, articulate and everyone’s best mate. I guess it was rare to play a ‘nice’ guy as a guestie on Neighbours because guest roles are usually instigators of conflict. I guess being nice is not as much fun as being a real nasty piece of work.

Tuong was something of an amateur businessman, always out to make a quick buck. Were there any of his storylines that you particularly enjoyed filming?
I remember Tuong trying to buy a dot com business from Lou and Madge – out to make a quick buck. I think my favourite memory is the end of year finale where Tuong entered a bird-man rally, built a flying machine that fly all the way across the river. Unfortunately I didn’t get to fly it – they had a stunty in to do it.

Were there any cast members who you particularly enjoyed working with?
Everyone was great to work with. I can’t remember a single person that I didn’t like. Although Ryan Maloney was always a last minuter when it came to learning his lines – it was funny to see him trying to wing it everytime. Jesse Spencer was a great guy – Jacinta Stapleton I got along with really well. Jonathan Dutton and I used to play battleship in the green room waiting for our scenes.

Are you still in touch with any of your former Neighbours castmates?
I was always in and out for little bursts of time – and because I had uni and juggling other work I always used to race off after shoot so no I didn’t really get enough time to get to know people as well as I wanted to. What often happens on shoots is you get to know people really well for concentrated periods of time and then you move onto the next job – and because in this industry you meet so many people its hard to keep in touch with everyone. It’s a lame excuse, but it’s the reality.

Would you ever consider a return to the series, either as Tuong or a new character?
I’d love to do short bursts of storyline – but I don’t think I’d take a regular gig… I like moving around and doing different jobs.

Are you a viewer of the series yourself?
I watched it religiously during High School, but nowadays my work schedule means I’m not normally home to watch it.

Where has your career taken you since your last Neighbours appearance in 2000?
I did some theatre for Melbourne Theatre Company, worked on a range of small theatre projects. Did roles on feature films such as On the Beach, Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde, The Wogboy and a whole bunch of other tv guest roles. Nowadays I divide my time between my own advertising agency business with doing short term acting gigs whenever my agent calls.

With Neighbours now on screen for over 21 years, what do you think is behind its huge success?
Probably because of the dedicated legions of fans in the UK and Europe. I went to a high school reunion (I went to an international school in Hong Kong) – and everyone knew about Neighbours – all of these fans came out of the woodworks. My classmates were more impressed with my short gig on Neighbours than anything else. It's got a huge following I guess because its bright, sunny and very Australian.

Interview by Steve. Added on 11th November 2006