Hugo Austin's very interesting. Like everyone on series television he's got some sort of dark past, And he does have a temper. I like playing him because if you had a character that was just nice the whole time it would be boring. Hugo's charming as well. Which is of course why they chose me to play him. (laughts).What's Hugo's job?
He's a dive master. You never think when you're watching Home and Away as I used to as a kid, I would be doing a scene where I would be hoping Alf (Ray Meagher) would open up part of his business so I could be a partner with him and run a dive operation out of the bait shop. When I had the first scene with him I had to take a moment, to take stock. I was thinking "Like wow. It's Alf! And I'm going to be his business partner!" You know what, Ray Meagher is really one of the nicest people.Are you enjoying being on the show?
I can honestly tell you I have never enjoyed working on a show as much as I have on Home & Away. The character's great, I'm really enjoying the challenge. It's a great bunch of actors. They're is absolutely, honestly, no-one that I would say "they're a bit hard to work with," or "they're a bit diva-ish." So, it's a real pleasure. And there are worse places to work then Palm Beach, Sydney.When did you move here?
September 2007. I'm from Melbourne, born and bred. I met my girlfriend, Sonia, about three years ago at the Spiegletent. She was working there and I totally fell in love with her. Then the tent was travelling to Adelaide and Brighton in the UK and she said, "Do you want to come?" So I ran away with the circus! It was fabulous. I got to work with the tent all around the world for about two years. Then Sonia got a job as production manager for the Sydney Opera House and Sydney had always been on my radar.How's it been treating you?
Beautifully. I've fallen in love with the place. I mean I'll always be fairly parochial towards Melbourne. I don't really understand why they need to be compared, Melbourne vs Sydney. I think that's all rubbish. They both have great things going for them, pros and cons.Are you missing your family?
Oh yeah. But I'm going down to Melbourne a fair bit. I play in a band down there. I've still got a place as well. I'm not exclusive to Sydney or Melbourne.You're dating us both!
Yeah, I'm bicoastal! I'm bi!Being a dive master I'm guessing your shirt comes off?
Oh, yeah, I have got my shirt off once or twice. I've been trying to make sure I'm staying in reasonable shape. But I don't want to give the impression that I'm a beefcake or anything. You just never know when you'll be asked to take your top off and you have to be looking OK. It is Home and Away after all!Any fake tan going on?
When I first came in, the character, Hugo, had come from Indonesia. So they said, 'Oh, we'll get you a spray tan." I'm like, "What? A spray tan?!" I've never had a bloody spray tan. This woman came over to our place and set up this tent thing, spraying me all over. And you're all sticky after and she goes "You can't wash this off until tomorrow morning". So you get into bed with this stuff all over you. And then I woke up and looked at myself and thought "Are you kidding me?" I had to go to Melbourne for a funeral, and one of my best mates, Neighbours' Brett Tucker, goes "G'day George, George Hamilton." He was calling me George Hamilton all day, because I had the full on tan going on. So we scaled a bit back from that, Hugo's not quite Indonesia-tanned anymore, and I haven't had a spray tan since.Speaking of embarrassing moments, we can't not mention that scene from Packed to the Rafters, standing naked in front of Michael Caton, Erik Thomson, Rebecca Gibney...
.... And about 20 crew members as well. But of course I did have on the old modesty pouch. It's hilarious, I was actually saying to the producers, 'Look, I'm not that prudish about nudity. It doesn't worry me." And the producers said, "It's not really about you. It's about everybody else. So we kind of have to insist you wear this modesty pouch. It looks ridiculous. It makes you look androgynous, like, are you a guy or a girl? And then I did Satisfaction. That was serious. In Packed to the Rafters you only see my bum. In Satisfaction it's the WHOLE ball game. Full on sex scenes. I had a threesome with two girls. A lot of my male friends said "Oh, mate, that must have been awesome." And "Oh, did you get any movement?" It's actually scary. I was worried - would I get an erection and be embarrassed? But there's nothing erotic about it. It was all choreographed moves, very structured. So, thankfully, I didn't get any movement!