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Interviews > Marisa Warrington

After several guest stints, Marisa Warrington became a full-time Neighbours cast member as Sindi Watts in early 2004. Having then been axed from the show in April 2005, Marisa chats to us about her time as a neighbour and her sudden departure from Ramsay Street...

Last time we spoke with you on Perfect Blend, you were just finalising plans to join the Neighbours cast on a permanent basis. How did the full-time role on the show come about?
I was doing another guest stint. So I walked into Peter Dodds’ office to thank him for hiring me again. I told him that I really didn’t want to come back again for another guest stint, as it could stop me from getting other acting work with me just playing the one character all the time. He replied “we have some big plans for you”. I then told him I wouldn’t really be able to do them as I was just about to sign a nine month contract to do a Midsummer Nights Dream in Darwin. Within the end of the day they had signed me up to do Neighbours on a three year optional contract.

What did you like most about Sindi?
I liked the fact that she’s really annoying but you kinda like her after a while. I based her on three girls I used to know.

Do you think Sindi was better suited to Toadie or Stuart?
Neither of them! I think a character like Sindi needs someone older, maybe someone like Max. She’s very off the wall and he’s very sane. Stephen [Lovatt] and I were talking one day and we both thought they’d get on really, really well. I get a lot of fan mail from girls that say they are very much like Sindi. I used to worry that she wouldn’t be very likeable and really annoying, but I tried to tone her down a lot. She was always crying in every episode, I got so frustrated playing her like that.

What were your favourite storylines?
There were a few storylines that I liked. I loved the Making Mansions stuff and I wish they would have done that more. I didn’t know why Sindi couldn’t have done Making Mansions on nearly all the other sets that were done up over the last year. It would have been really funny and would have taken advantage of the sets being renovated.

Who did you most enjoy working with on Neighbours, and why?
Ben Nicholas and I got on really really well, it was great doing all the comedy stuff with him and Jackie [Woodburne]. A lot of the people I got on well with, I didn’t have a lot of scenes with.

How did your departure come about?
I was signed originally for three years, but after 18 months the producers told me that Sindi wasn’t fitting into the street, so they stopped my contract. I often would call the producers and ask them if I am playing her too over the top. I really wanted to settle her down a bit to try and find some normality within the craziness of her, but they kept assuring me that she is really funny and everyone likes her. I had a really good run though and enjoyed myself.

We saw a dramatic twist and difference in Sindi’s character since the start of this year... how did you feel about this new direction?
You’re telling me! My job is just to play what is written in the script and I don’t have any say in what happens. Personally I think that they had a really funny comic character that worked well within the Neighbours genre, so turning her into a murdering psychotic really is ruining the fact that it’s a family show. She could have been just a new generation Melanie type character.

What was the social life like amongst the cast? Did you enjoy the ‘glamorous’ aspect of the show – e.g. The Logies, 20th Anniversary Party etc.
The Logies were great fun, but we had to do this singing and dancing thing, which was a bit scary. I’m not a big going out person, so I tend to stay at home a lot. I used to socialise a lot with Nat Bass. She and I started on the show at around the same time, so were going through the whole public recognition for the first time together, plus we both do music, so we had a lot in common. Or course Marcella [Russo], and Ben Nicholas used to come around to play golf with my boyfriend, James. The funny thing is he never came around to just see me!

You recently did an interview on Perfect Blend with your band Lucy De Ville - how did you get involved with that?
It is my band but more Chel’s baby than mine, it’s really under her wing. I started off just doing backing vocals and I was really happy just doing that. I was so paranoid that people were just going to laugh, it’s such a cliché being from Neighbours and singing, but I have always sung. Marcella really liked my voice, so she asked me to do the lead vocals on some of the tracks.

Would you return to Neighbours if the opportunity arose?
I would really love to. Neighbours was really good to me and for me. I’m no job snob, I’ve done so many crap jobs from cleaner to receptionist, so I won’t be saying no to going back there. My only concern is that they have turned Sindi from a happy, wacky, cute character to a murdering psychotic. I don’t know how that is going to fit in. I also think it was irresponsible television. Having a mental disorder doesn’t necessarily make you evil. We have a responsibility to people that watch the show and on a show like Neighbours there are a lot of kids that watch who are at such an influential age and we are strengthening that stereotype to them. It needed to be shown in a way that showed that with the right help, it can be different. If they hadn’t taken her down that path it would have been so much easier to bring her back, and really fun as well.

To read a full character biography of Sindi Watts, click here

Interview by Karl and Moe. Added on 10th September 2005