When Luke Arnold landed a recurring guest role in Home & Away he knew he had to do one thing: hit the gym.
Arnold, whose credits include INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, Glitch and Black Sails, likes to keep in shape, but the prospect of a Summer Bay role means shirtless scenes were looming.
“I was preparing for it, hitting the gym, watching my diet. I thought ‘That’s part of the gig, in Summer Bay, right?'” he tells TV Tonight.
“I do get my shirt off a little bit. But Lewis is not much of a surfer. He’s looks more like he would have been a guitarist. So I do wear more clothes than most of the other characters.”
Arnold, 36, recently revealed skin for a magazine shoot, but is far more comfortable in his actor-skin, making his debut in the soap’s season finale on Monday.
2020 has been a year of surprises for the actor who was forced to cancel a book tour for his second novel, “Dead Man in a Ditch.”
But despite his links to Seven drama, notably Never Tear Us Apart, Winners & Losers, The Pacific, he had never set foot in Summer Bay. 2020 changed all that.
“People always ask me ‘Have you done Home & Away?”
“It’s funny. It’s such an Aussie institution and I feel like no matter what I’ve done at home and abroad, people always ask me ‘Have you done Home & Away?’ and there’s always a little bit of disappointment in their eyes when I tell them ‘No.’
“But I’ve so enjoyed being back in Australia. As much as this year’s been very strange, it’s amazing by not being able to country-hop as much as I was, I’ve just really enjoyed being at home. So when an opportunity came to come up to Sydney, visit friends and work on one of the longest-running shows ever with some really great people… it felt like maybe 2020 was the time to do it.
“I just feel very lucky to be on something that was employing a whole bunch of people and making some Australian content after all the lockdown.”
Arnold has a recurring guest role as nurse Lewis, who has links to Jasmine’s (Sam Frost) past. While the two characters were previously acquainted their lives went in different directions, until a chance meeting rekindles a friendship. Fans can be ready for much more in 2021.
“They had a real connection, there were flirty times”
“They had a real connection, there were flirty times but it never really turned into a relationship,” he explains.
“The first part of the story is really about him working out whether he can move on from a tragedy he’s gone through recently, and whether Jasmine can play a part in that.”
While there are key differences to shooting serial drama to a US cable series such as Black Sails, Arnold says the main differences are for crew.
“Everyone has asked me, ‘How are you dealing with the pace?'” he continues.
“The job is so similar to everything else, I usually don’t notice it. In the hospital, sometimes it’s a bit tougher, because you’re trying to learn how to authentically do the job of a nurse.
“But it’s such a well-oiled machine, what has gotten quicker is the camera and lighting stuff. I think they have less time than other shows.
“On a lot of shows you get there and you block it and then you shoot it”
“On Black Sails we actually rehearse -but pretty much no TV has that except if you’re doing high-end, prestige stuff. Generally, on a lot of shows you get there and you block it and then you shoot it. In film you get to do takes again, but there’s very few TV shows. In a lot of primetime stuff, you don’t have that luxury.
“We do more scenes in a day, but as an actor most of your work is done at home. You learn the lines at home, you come in, you hit your mark, say your lines and you bring as much truth to the moment as you can.”
Meanwhile, Arnold continues to pursue his writing interests with Dead Man in a Ditch, a sequel to The Last Smile in Sunder City, which follows the adventures of Fetch Phillips -and he plans more.
He describes the books as ‘detective fantasy stories… noirish crime stories with a fantasy edge’ and does not rule out the possibility of them hitting the screens in the future.
“It would absolutely be a dream. That was some of the conversations happening this year before things went crazy. I think they’d so work well on screen,” he suggests.
“I’m loving being a novelist right now”
“That would be great if it happens, but I’m not feeling particularly rushed because I’m loving being a novelist right now. Acting and writing books is a perfect match where I have things that I can do every day, off my own back, that I am completely in control of, and then balance it out in someone else’s playground.”
Home & Away triple finale airs 7pm Monday on Seven.