Best known for his role as Paul Robinson in the hit Australian soap Neighbours, actor Stefan Dennis reveals what it’s like playing the character everyone loves to hate…
What’s it like playing one of soap’s best ever villains?
“I’m the character everyone loves to hate. I don’t know what all the fuss is about, Paul’s a lovely chap. Just the sort you would want to take home to meet your mother… until you realise that he wants her as well (laughs). He’s a character you never get bored with. Even during times when storylines aren’t centred on my character, the writers still come up with little twists for him all the time.”
What’s been your favourite storyline?
“I could say Paul losing his leg, or the brain tumour, or losing his first wife but, oddly enough, one of the storylines that sticks with me was one I did with Fiona Corke who plays Gail. Gail and Paul were pretending to be happily married for Aunt Hilary who was staying with them. There were lots of Basil Fawlty moments as they tried to keep up the charade of being a married couple when they weren’t at all.”
Are you happy with how Paul’s character has developed over the years?
“You’ve seen Paul go through the ultimate evil stage just before he had his brain tumour a couple of years ago, where anything was possible. He was worth $150 million, he was a playboy and he had contacts in the underworld. Now he’s back to being a more normal character but he owns the newspaper now so, again, anything is possible. Paul is renowed for using the newspaper to his own advantage. And they’ve teamed Paul, Susan and Elle up together in the newspaper office, which has created a good dynamic.”
Paul’s relationship with daughter Elle is somewhat strained. She’s certainly a chip off the old block, isn’t she?
“Yes she is. And even though Elle annoys Paul sometimes, they are always there for each other. Paul adores his daughter and I think it works both ways. And Pippa, who plays her, is gorgeous – she’s naughty and rude as anything too, and I just adore her.”
Speaking of daughters, you’ve just become dad to a baby girl, haven’t you?
“Yes, Darci. She’s been a bit stubborn in trying to get into a routine but we’re getting there. Talk about chip off the old block; I’m nocturnal and she’s a night time party animal. She’ll sleep all day and then about 9pm she’s like ‘right what do we do now?’.”
What do you think has made Neighbours so popular for all these years?
“If I knew that I’d be sitting on my yacht in the Caribbean! Essentially, it’s about real people, in a real street, involved in real situations. If you walked down your street today and found out people’s stories and then condensed those stories into one week, you would end up with Neighbours. Nothing’s unrealistic it’s just that it’s condensed in order to make it entertaining – otherwise it would be boring. It would be Big Brother! And the thing that made it popular in Britain, of course, was that it was all sunshine and fresh faces.”