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Chances sleazebag returns as the psycho of Ramsay Street…
Ramsay Street has just acquired its own resident psycho! Played by none other than former Chances ‘sleazebag’ Stephen Whittaker, the mysterious Russell Butler has arrived on Neighbours to wreak havoc in the lives of newlyweds Phoebe and Stephen Gottlieb (Simone Robertson and Lochie Daddo).
“You might say he’s a vaguely disturbed character,” said Stephen, with a chuckle. “There’s a touch of the movie Pacific Heights about him… he has to take tranquilisers to calm him down – but, er, I don’t think any of the Ramsay Street residents are aware of this.”
Stephen, who was contracted to play Russell over 11 weeks, said he didn’t think Russell would become permanent: “I can’t see Neighbours with a resident lunatic. There’d have to be some massive rewriting to see Russell at Ramsay Street permanently!”
Russell enters the lives of Phoebe and Stephen when he answers their ad for a boarder in the coffee shop window. “He’s not exactly sleazy but there’s something not quite right about him. There’s a bit of an inner struggle going on here. He’s a mystery man.”
Stephen, who played con man Sean Becker on the controversial soap Chances, is wondering why he’s always being cast as the bad guy. “I don’t know what it is about me. But I do enjoy playing characters who have a slightly bad edge. I’ve always found nice guys intensely boring. Unless you happen to be stunningly good looking, nice guys don’t make for interesting viewing!”
After Chances was axed last October, Stephen went on an overseas holiday before returning to Melbourne to open his own pub. “At various times in an actor’s career, you become well-acquainted with pubs. Ours is called The Limerick Arms and it’s in South Melbourne… you don’t mind me slipping in a mention do you?” Of course not.
This article originally appeared in TV Soap magazine dated May 1993 and was written by Tierri Abraham