Going from promoting Diet Coke to stripping on the streets of Ramsay by way of half-naked AussieBum billboards, Matt Wilson hasn’t ridden the most obvious path to stardom, but that only adds to the boy-next-door charm that is winning him a dedicated fanbase as the latest resident on ‘Neighbours’, one of Australia’s longest-running soap operas. A tradie who can act or an actor who’s good with his hands – however you look at it Matt Wilson is the neighbourly figure we all wish we could borrow a cup of sugar from. Taking time out of his busy schedule, the model/actor was gracious enough to lend some time to QNews reporter Peter Gray to discuss, amongst other things, how he feels playing an openly gay character on a primetime program.
First off, thank you for taking the time out to chat with me. As much as it appears that you’re a newcomer to the entertainment industry through your recent recruitment on Ramsay Street in ‘Neighbours’, you’re no stranger to the forum. How was it that you went from “Australia’s hottest tradie” to one of the country’s longest-running soap operas?
Australia’s Hottest Tradie was really the first bit of public exposure I’ve had apart from the odd local paper swimming trophy story. Doing the Tradie comp I was required to speak live on stage to 500+ people and had some serious stage fright. I took myself of to NIDA to do a presenting course to fix this. From there, someone suggested I take an acting class and did so once a week every week until we got here.
I’d wager that your modelling career with Aussiebum is arguably what most people would recognize you from. What was that experience like? Are you still working with them?
AussieBum has been a great platform for me as well. With both Neighbours & aussieBum having a huge following in the UK, it goes hand in hand. AussieBum gave me the confidence to be myself even when wearing nothing but a pair of undies in public. If you can do that, you can do anything.
On to ‘Neighbours’, you entered the show rather memorably (to put it mildly), can you tell us about your character and how it all came to be for you joining such a prestigious show?
Aaron is the middle Brennan brother on Ramsay St. Growing up in Port Lincoln he left home to work in the mines over in WA. It was while he was there that he went to an all-male revue show and asked to sign up and become an exotic dancer for a living. He is an opportunist and happiest when everyone around him is. He likes to think he is an entrepreneur; however he is yet to succeed in anything!
Do you feel any pressure portraying a gay character? It’s really refreshing to have an openly gay character on network television, especially one that doesn’t adhere to any kind of stereotype, but overall there still seems to be a lack of gay characters on Australian television, do you see the medium moving forward?
There’s no pressure whatsoever. If anything there’s an overwhelming amount of support for the character. Aaron is a typical Aussie gay guy which hasn’t been represented enough on Australian TV. It’s great to see more gay characters popping up across all shows, it’s a truer representation of today’s society.
Since its inception QNews has been at the forefront of supporting the LGBT community in regards to youth suicide, and I know that you recently competed in the City2Surf event where you were there in support of Beyond Blue – an Australian foundation aimed at reducing the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide. Can you tell us about that event and your involvement with the foundation?
This year for the City@Surf in Sydney I pledged to write all my supporters names on my arms for race day. With a little bit of social media campaigning I raised over $3500 for Beyond Blue.
Depression and anxiety affects over 3million Australians and a lot of the time can be treated with a good support group. Beyond Blue are doing a fantastic job here already, it’s an honour to be able to run for them.
And, finally, is there any grand plan in terms of your acting career? Can we expect Matt Wilson the movie star to emerge?
I’m the kind of person to give whatever is in front of me 110% and at the moment it’s all Neighbours.