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Interviews > Ben Lawson

Having recently departed Ramsay Street after 18 months as wise-cracking, gambler turned taxi driver Frazer Yeats, Ben Lawson chats to us about his time as a Neighbour and his plans for the future...

Can you tell us a little about your acting experience prior to Neighbours?
My first acting job was in a show called Skippy - a bit of an Aussie classic. I was 12 years old. After high school I studied acting and worked in the theatre. Neighbours was my first ongoing TV job.

How did the role of Frazer come about?
The producers wanted to bring a bunch of twenty-somethings onto the show to fill that age gap. I guess what made Frazer interesting in the beginning was he was not what he seemed and his job was left of field and we weren’t sure what he would do at any one time. I miss that Frazer.

Were you a Neighbours viewer before being cast?
I wasn’t allowed to watch it as a kid. In fact, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV on weeknight’s full stop. So – no.

How would you describe Frazer? Do you miss playing him?
I would rather not describe him. Your perception is more relevant than mine; you are, after all, the audience. I do miss certain parts of him. He had his moments.

Why do you think Frazer and Rosie have been so popular with the show's fans?
No idea. But if they weren't, I may have had to leave the show earlier than I did.

Frazer and Rosie had such a fantastic onscreen chemistry. Did you and Natalie Saleeba hit it off straight away?
Often the best on screen chemistry begins and ends on the screen.

Did you prefer to act out dramatic or comedic storylines with Frazer?
Comedic, hands down.

What was it like working with Penny Cook? Do you ever wish she'd become a regular?
I adore her and yes, I would have been very happy had she become regular cast. Hopefully we will work together again some day.

Yourself and Sam Clark were involved in several highly charged storylines. Did you enjoy working with him?
Sam is a good friend and has become good little actor over the past couple of years. He’s very generous and we always had fun working together. His vulnerability accounts for a lot of the “heart” in my character. One more or less led to the other.

Your character was involved in a paralysis storyline. How did that storyline come about? Was it challenging?
I don’t know what inspired the writers but I first found out about it over dinner with Sam Clark. When he first told me I was to be trampled by race horses I thought he was joking. Yeah, it was challenging, but I was happy to get out of that chair.

What was your favourite Frazer storyline?
I thought about this for a long time. Remarkably few to choose from – feels like there was about 12 months in the middle where I stood in the background of other people’s scenes. I really liked the hunting trip with Steiger. Maybe the only script that made me laugh out loud when I read it. I’m just a sucker for gags.

You were recently voted Sexiest Male in the PB Neighbours Soap Awards. How do you feel about that?!
Flattered. I wrote an acceptance speech which you refused to print on the grounds of prolixity.

Which cast members did you most enjoy working with, and have you stayed in touch with anyone from the show?
The people I enjoyed working with the most were also my favourite friends. David (Oliver), Jane (Rebecca), Brett (Fitzy), Nat B (Carmella), Jacks and Fletch (Susan and Karl). I’ve kept in touch with them all to some extent.

Was there anything about your time on the show that you didn’t enjoy?
Of course, it’s a job like any other. But the positives outweighed the negatives. Only a brat would complain about having a job on Neighbours – it’s great fun.

What made you decide to leave Neighbours?
I always wanted to follow a career in the United States and it was time to try.

Would you consider a return in the future?
We’ll see. You may end up liking it better without me.

Since leaving the show, what have you been up to?
Travelled a bit but mostly have been setting up my new life in LA.

What are your plans for the future?
I don’t really work in terms of plans. Is “be happy and successful” too broad?

What do you think is the reason for Neighbours long running success?
The writers and producers understand what their audience wants; they try to keep a cast that has something for everyone and more than anything it’s just become a habit for most people. Like cigarettes or cracking your knuckles. Some people grow out of it and enjoy it only in reminiscence; others can’t imagine life without it. Whatever the reason it has a place in generations of hearts across the world, now mine included.

Interview by Edd. Added on 23rd August 2008