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Stephen Lovatt

This interview was generously donated by Wendy Lloyd (C).

So here we are in Edinburgh, tell us about your play "The End of the Golden Weather"…
It's a modern classic that was written back in the 50's by New Zealand's greatest playwright, or certainly one of the greatest playwrights we've ever produced, he (Bruce Mason) came back from Europe in the late 40's to New Zealand and there wasn't any literature that he could see that was really speaking with our voice, most of our stuff was post colonial British information and there's nothing wrong with that, but he wanted to do his own story so he pretty much wrote an autobiographical one man show for himself and played all the characters. He took it out to the country side and when he began he was doing it in peoples lounge rooms, which in rural
New Zealand they're pretty big lounge rooms, because they're old sheep station houses, they're pretty huge …you know you'd get all the shepherd and the shearers in and stuff like that you'd have like 30 people sitting there of a night, and he just took it around the country and took it to the people and the people fell in love with it, and him.

You're looking to stick with the play and take it as far a field as you can as many times as possible as you can?
Yeah, well it's sort of in me now, I don't dispute anyone else's right to perform it, but I feel I have it in me now, there are bits that had to be cut for the Edinburgh season because by the time I got to booking the space there was nothing that was long enough because it actually runs at about an hour and a half. So I've had to cut quite brutally, but I was just running them in my head to keep them alive this morning and they're still there. Because it's a self perpetuating script, it has this internal rhythm, and it took me weeks to learn the first paragraph, there were serious under pant issues going on there! But then I got the rhythm of the piece, it's like when you're learning Shakespeare you know, the more you do it, the more that pentameter just kind of keeps you ticking along, and I'm not saying Bruce is as good as Shakespeare of anything like that but this piece does have Bruce's personality so deeply buried in it that it has a really unique rhythm and that rhythm once I got it in me started to propel me through.

How do you think you'll feel going back to something like neighbours after such an experience?
Fantastic, absolutely fantastic, this was such a good thing for me to have done, because it's like touching the lightening rod again.

So you've been there 5 years now?
4, 4 ½.

Another 4 ½ on the books?
You can never tell, you honestly can never tell in this industry, you just go with what's on the paper, when the ink hits the paper then you buy the whisky, before that you keep your mouth shut and pretend like you don't care!

So how about swapping the scarlet bar for the Rovers Return?
I'd love to do that, they need an Aussie investor there do they? (laughs) I'd be him, I know that Roy has got a long lost brother, he's got a half brother in New Zealand somewhere, and I actually made noises towards ITV about that and got a big fat concrete wall about it! But I thought it would be great if I could come in and do like a two month stint and be like "G'day Roy" you know that real classic "I'm a good guy from the South Pacific and turn out to be an absolute evil little…". Because Roy's such a great character, the ways he moves so slowly and you can never really get one over on him, you can make him look a bit foolish but actually in the end Roy comes out on top because he never gets rushed. I really like that about him and I think it would be great if he met a brother who was the opposite of Roy and thought he could get a thing on him, you could play that out so nicely!

Have you been to Manchester because I've heard that a friend tried to get you into Manchester Football Club?
Yeah- I couldn't do it, I was actually hoping to visit the Coro Street set while I was here but I ran out of time, because just to have your picture taken outside the Rovers Return with a bevy in your hand would be pretty cool! But you know, what I would do to play a love scene with Bet the bar lady, she's gone now! It's gone all like Neighbours and Home and Away now hasn't it, there's lots of quite high drama going on!

So when do you get back to your normal filming schedule?
Monday week, I arrive back in Australia Sunday night and I'm back on set Monday morning. Which I did on purpose, because I think its gonna be "fun"! I'm going be pretty shabby on Monday morning but there you go!

Am I right in thinking that when Max was introduced to Neighbours 4 ½ years ago, wasn't he supposed to be an ex-professional cricketer?
Ah they said he was a high level cricketer

I've never seen you play cricket!
No because I was absolutely appalling at it!!! They wrote me one scene and everybody got to see and went "man that man cant even throw a ball let alone bowl it", well that's overstating it, of course I can throw a ball, but I've got no skill at bowling or batting and that was something that wasn't in the character breakdown when I auditioned for it. So they wrote me this cricket scene and I was just appalling! It's not my game, I never liked cricket, I don't get it! I don't understand ball games where you're not allowed to get the person with the ball! It seems to me, completely kind of counter you know! I don't understand that at all- I went to see Edinburgh play Leeds at rugby last night and that was very fun! That was great fun, sitting there in the rain and the cold watching these guys thump around a field, it was awesome, it was like being at home! It was so good.

It's been well documented that you spent nearly a year in Ullapool?
Yeah that's right, that's where my mother's family came from, she's McKenzie McCloud up there. I got to know the relatives, which were very distant relatives because I'm 4th generation kiwi on both sides of my family but there's predominantly Scottish blood running through all those family trees. And the connection between my mum's family and the Ullapool family has always been kept up like our family apparently sent crates of apples across during the depression and stuff like that because our family had all orchards. One of my uncles came and visited during the Second World War and he was part of the merchant navy. So the connection was always kept vaguely alive so it was great and I got to know them, and if they find out I've been in Edinburgh and didn't make contact with them they're gonna probably disown me so I apologise Kaye, I apologise Helen, it was poor of me to have done that but I didn't have time, there was never going to be time.

Is this your first time back to Scotland since then?
Yes it is, yeah, and its just been a whistle stop tour, I would have loved to have been able to head up north because I love the highlands there so beautiful, and I never quite made it to John O'Groats which was something I'd always wanted to do, and I never made it across to Harris island, I have a very good friend who I have treated appallingly by not letting them know I'm in town, coz I'm pretty sure he would have come down, but I hope you understand if you ever find out about this! Angus, that there just wasn't time man, and I'm here to do a job, it wasn't like I could go out and do stuff you know.

So I have to ask you, what happens with Katya? When she was introduced to the storyline I definitely noticed a spark between Max and Katya, prolonged eye contact and I thought is that between the actors or the characters, is there something coming? And from what I"ve read- it's the reason you're here!
Yeah, Katya is very tightly wound up with the reasons I've been allowed to have the two months off, and the long looks between me and Katya were just us, I mean there's absolutely nothing going on there it's just we like each other I suppose I don't know. I really like her, she's a really sweet person, Dichen, who plays Katya. I don't really have any strong feelings about Katya but Dichens quite cool. I don't know it just kind of happens, and often that sort off stuff writers pick up on anyway, but I mean good god the girl… that whole neighbours thing where you get the crinkly's like me going out with… its all a bit… I don't find that stuff very interesting, to watch or to play because I find it sort of dishonest of television, and film to do that.

Isn't Max a little naïve over Katya's interest?
No I think that's a little bit harsh, Max's understanding of what's going on with Katya is I think very credible. There's this thing that happens in soap quite often where we all get quite wise about people, It's very easy to get objective about your characters but actually people live these weird fumbly, rumbly, non-sensicle lives. Chaos is out there and we do these ridiculous things and within soap there is a certain level of ridiculousness, like I"ve just been talking about a 23 year old woman going out with a 45 year old man- and it working out, you know that to me is beyond the bounds of reality, but okay that's a function of soap- I can deal with it. But it's stuff like Max going away for the weekend with Katya, I don't think that is ingenuous. I think objectively you can go 'that's ingenuous" and if he was a mate id be going "mate?!" you know, but I can also see from inside of him how he's not able to objectify himself like that. You know- we do stuff like that! Otherwise marriages would stay together, people wouldn't treat their children appallingly, all the stuff that goes on, wouldn't go on if we were all able to objectify our lives.
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