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Interviews > Eliza Taylor-Cotter

SPOILER WARNING: This interview contains spoilers for Australian and UK viewers. To read a spoiler-free version, click here.

Last month, Paul Gray spoke to Eliza Taylor-Cotter (Janae), where she was performing in the town's 07/08 pantomime, Snow White.

So have you enjoyed your time at the Snow White panto in Weymouth so far?
I’ve really loved it. Weymouth is beautiful and we’ve got a great cast of people. There have been no fights or anything – we’re all getting on really well! We spend most of our time in each other’s houses so it’s really fun.

Have you had a chance to explore the area around Weymouth?
I have a little bit. I haven’t had the chance to venture out too much. I’m spending most of my time here at the theatre or at home or at the cast’s houses just chilling out and watching DVDs and stuff. Once you finish a performance all you want to do is eat some food and go to bed. So I haven’t really had an explore, but I’ll get to do that when we finish the run.

So how long are you actually in the UK?
This panto goes up to the 6th January ‘08. I leave the UK a couple of weeks after that (to go back to Australia), so I’ll have a chance just to hang out and not do a whole lot.

It must be so busy for you at the moment, especially as you are currently doing two shows per day…
Yeah, and we had 6 days straight of rehearsals before the run started. It’s really tough work, but it’s also really rewarding when it all comes together. It’s good fun.

How much does this routine compare with your schedule on Neighbours?
On Neighbours it can really vary, depending on what scenes you’re in, what sets are in and all that stuff. I tend to do between 10 and 12 hours on Neighbours. Here in Weymouth we’ve been doing 10 hour rehearsals every day or if we’ve got performances on we’ll be here from about 11am till 9ish. TV and stage are just so many worlds apart. I’ve never done musical theatre before. Well, I’ve never even been on stage before! I’ve just grown up in front of the camera so it’s been a very different experience for me. But that’s why I wanted to do it – I’d been at Neighbours for 3 years and I thought “ok, this is getting kinda boring and repetitive” so I felt I needed to challenge myself.

You’ve recently finished filming Neighbours. It seems like several of members of the cast are moving at the moment – was missing some of your mates one of the reasons you decided to leave the show?
Yeah, absolutely. It can be really difficult when you build really close bonds with people. Obviously you’re working 5 days a week together, 12 hours a day and then you’ve got your appearances on the weekend – where you’ve got to fly to Sydney and Queensland to do shopping centres signings and stuff. So obviously you’re going to form really close bonds with people and when they leave it’s a bit of a shock.

Why did your on-screen family all leave before your character Janae?
Just because my character had moved on and joined up with another family (Ned Parker and his son Mickey). With the Timmins family, we weren’t sure how people were going to react to them. It turned out that they were the sort of family that you either loved or hated. We got a lot of great feedback, so we stayed a lot longer than we thought we would. It was a really good run I think. It was good fun especially working with Nell Feeney (who played Janae’s mother Janelle Timmins). I loved working with all of the actors in my on-screen family and it was really sad to see them go, which was part of the reason that I decided to leave. Neighbours is just a completely different place now and there are a lot of new people – it just didn’t feel like the family that I joined when I started three years ago.

Who did you get on best with in the cast?
Obviously Kyal Marsh (who played Boyd Hoyland), because we played boyfriend and girlfriend for so long. We had a great relationship. He was like a brother to me - we just mucked around and had a lot of fun. So I was very close to him. I was also very close with all of the Timmins family, as I’ve already mentioned, and Dan O’Connor (who plays Ned Parker) because he was my next relationship on-screen. We had a lot of fun together.

What was your favourite storyline on Neighbours?
I’ve had so many that it’s hard to know where to begin. Janae had a lot of ups and downs. I think what I found really challenging and great fun to do was when Boyd cheated on Janae and she finds out. I got to do a lot of big cries and I had a lot of fun. One of the things that kept me going on Neighbours was trying to make the script and the ridiculous storylines feel real for the audience. It was really difficult. I really tried on that story to go all out and bring some sort of reality to it. You do get some good storylines but you also get some absolutely shit ones.

Was it hard to leave on the final day of filming?
It was difficult, but at the same time I really was ready to go because I’d been there for so long. When you get out of bed and think “oh, do I really want to go to work today…” you know that it’s time to move on - and that’s what I did!

Were you pleased with how they wrote your character out?
I wanted to have like a massive death scene, but they didn’t want that. So I just leave with one of those endings where everyone waves me off, so there’s a possibility of Janae coming back. I might return one day, but certainly not for the next couple of years. I want to really focus on other things, such as stage and film. But if they’ll have me back, eventually I’ll consider it.

So is it true that you are now jetting off to L.A?
That is true – I’m heading off to L.A in March just to meet agents, producers and directors and stuff. So that’s kinda frightening and exciting at the same time! Apart from that I might come back to the UK and do a panto next year – definitely not in Weymouth but I’ll certainly give another one a crack if they’ll let me…if I haven’t messed up this one too much haha!

What would be your dream if everything works out?
It would certainly be feature films, definitely. I know that that is a cliché and what every young, blonde, bouncy actress wants to do, but I’m particularly stubborn so I’m hoping that I can (puts on evil voice) “get what I want”! haha

Well I think you’ve shown some great work on Neighbours, so I’m sure that you’ve made yourself stand out on there…
Hmmm... maybe.

**”Oh, thank you!”, Eliza exclaims as a cast member brings her over a Diet Coke. She fishes out the right coins from her purse and gives them to him**

I’d have thought you’d have been getting this all free, being the star and everything!
Haha (she rolls her eyes)….no.

Would you ever work on TV again, like for example Holly Valance has done in Prison Break?
Yeah, I’d love to do that. I’m open to anything. Just acting in general is something I’m very passionate about and I’ll take whatever I can get. Obviously I’d draw the line at porn haha, but I do really truly love acting.

So do you think most of your future work will be in Australia and America?
I have got a UK agent now and he’s asked me to come back to the country sometime during 2008 to talk about my options. I’m still going to be on-screen on Neighbours in the UK until around April/May time…I’m not sure exactly when. Hopefully, I can still get a few roles here while I’m a ‘known name’ and then head off to L.A and see what happens.

What personally are your favourite TV series?
Oh gosh, I love, erm, very real drama. We’ve got a show in Australia called Love My Way, which has some of Australia’s finest actors in it and they just do a superb job. It’s my favourite show. It’s such a real drama, but with such comedy too. It’s got its quirks. I just adore it and I would love to do something like that – with a real script and a good director. Cos you can read a script and think “that’s brilliant”, but then the director comes in and just completely turns it around when it could have been so much better... All the components on a show need to be spot-on for everything to work, and on that show it just all really comes together.

I’ve been reading interviews with you online and it says you love other stuff too like The O.C.
The O.C.?! That mustn’t have been an interview with me! I’m not a fan of The O.C.… Oh god, I just try not to look at stuff online about me. People make up websites and things claiming that they are me.

The interview I found on you was on a site apparently called ‘Eliza Baby – Your No.1 Site For Eliza Taylor-Cotter!’
Oh god. (Eliza pulls a sickened face) Er ok… (she looks down at the printout of the interview from the site)…General Pants Co. clothing as my favourite clothing? Wrong!… Chocolate as my fave food? Ok, that’s right!…erm…I do like the Starting Line, Blink 182 and New Found Glory, but they are not my favourite bands.

You must read some real crap about you…
Oh yeah… (continues to look at interview) Haha Julia Stiles and Cameron Diaz are my favourite actress?! Haha

So that’s not true?
Nooo. I’d say that I’d certainly admire Katherine Heigl from Grey’s Anatomy. Knocked Up was a great film too. I have so much respect for her – she’s a brilliant actor. And I love Scarlett Johansson…she’s beautiful. I love seeing women out there with proper curves, real women. I think it’s important to set a good example. I hate that there are so many stick figures out there and kids look at that and go “oh, that’s what I have to be”. It’s not attractive and can be really frightening. If I do make it in L.A, so to speak, I’d certainly want to be setting an example so that’s why I’d never be like that.

Would you ever do modelling?
I have never done modelling. I’ve obviously done magazine shoots for Neighbours before, but I don’t know if I’d do actual catwalk stuff. I’m not really interested, but we’ll see.

Interview by Paul Gray. Conducted on 19th December 2007, added on 19th January 2008