Echo Beach: Interview With Jason Donovan
“The concept of Moving Wallpaper really made Echo Beach very attractive to me. I haven’t been on British television as an actor for a long time and I was looking to try and explore that avenue. But it’s difficult to cast an Australian, someone who has worn a technicolor dream coat, and sung a few hit singles in their time, or for people to get over the image of the Neighbours boy. I managed to manipulate that better in Australia but it’s tough to cast me as anything other than, say, an Australian in Casualty… I certainly wouldn’t cast me as a Geordie. It needed something like this to break the mould, so it seemed like the perfect vehicle. And to take the mickey out of yourself, as we all do in Moving Wallpaper, is healthy. When I read Echo Beach I liked it and when I read Moving Wallpaper, I rang my agent straight away. It just sounded really, really good fun.
“I have been in theatre for so long and to say that scripts have just landed on my desk would be a lie. The thing about my career is that it has been quite diverse, particularly having an interest in music. That’s helped me broaden my horizons as a performer and I am glad I took that choice earlier in my life. If I am honest, I have always wanted to get back into television because it helps broaden your feel for other opportunities and I needed to do that. That’s why I’m A Celebrity was perfect for me, because I’m at a good age to do have done that show. I spent a lot of time analysing if I should do a reality TV show and if I was going to do one then that was the one to do. It worked well and I got back into people’s hearts and minds. It’s how you convert it into some sort of currency which is the important thing.
“I think there’s a definite lack of glossy dramas in the UK. You do soaps well, you do Primevals really well but you don’t do social drama on that glossy level. England doesn’t really pay a lot of attention to the kind of drama where rock bands accompany the montage of the young boy driving up the street, and I think that works really well in Echo Beach. It will be difficult because this is new ground. But if you’re going to break new ground, make sure you break it with people who know what they are doing, and Kudos know what they are doing and so does Tony Jordan. I think the two shows together are so potent – as a package, the two compliment each other perfectly.
“It’s really hard for me to explain who Daniel Marrack is as there is so much of me in there. I don’t believe any actor can totally divorce himself from the person he is, although the circumstances are always different. I wanted Daniel have the band around his wrist and the beads around his neck – the Zen sort of thing but not too wacky. The VW comby is perfect for Daniel. He’s a bit of incense and candles man and I think that’s very appealing to certain women. I’m not a wrist band kind of guy but there’re elements of me in that character. Daniel is also a widower and I made sure the character was very close to his kids. He’s got a good heart. The triangle between him, Mark and Susan is not about splitting up a marriage. It’s about that element in one’s life where people cross our paths and you think ‘if I had gone through a different door, where would I have been?’ Susan has married a rich man but that doesn’t always make people happy. It’s a classic tale and I think Tony Jordan has got that tone just right. I don’t think Daniel comes back for Susan. He’s not as calculated as that.
“I liked working with Martine, I liked working with Hugo and I felt like I was a tennis player keeping my game going. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people. It’s a funny time in my life because I feel like I’m going between what was someone mucking around and watching everyone else to being that person I used to watch. With the whole Neighbours thing and that iconic pop era I was part of in the 80s, I feel that element of responsibility. But with young actors, there’s always a learning process, although there were never any tantrums on set. I don’t really experience a lot of that in my life because I’m not interested in all that crap – I just want to get on with the job. I think when you have leaders who share the responsibility, no one else can afford to be a diva, to wander around being over the top. I think we managed to set that tone. However, on Echo Beach: The Musical we may be.”