Stephen Peacocke has an aura about him. He has an uncanny ability to make the characters he portrays likable. The down-to-earth tradie, like Ben in Five Bedrooms, is dating Heather, who is much older.
So when Michael Lucas and Christine Bartlett, the show’s co-creators, came up with a surprising storyline for the third season featuring Ben cheating on Heather (Doris Younane), they weren’t sure how Stephen would react.
“They thought I may balk at it when Mike and Christine proposed the idea because you always want to play appealing characters, and I’ve been lucky to play a lot of likable ones,” Stephen tells TV WEEK.
“But the way it plays out, you can kind of understand how he gets into this terrible situation.”
It seems that with Stephen playing Ben, fans are likely to still end up seeing things from his point of view.
“It’s been interesting hearing people who’ve seen rough cuts of the episode go, ‘Well, it’s a huge moment, but you can see how it happened,'” he says.
Ben cheating on Heather meant Stephen having to shoot a sex scene – something he’s not keen on.
“I don’t typically enjoy doing any of that stuff,” he admits. “As an actor, watching other actors in sex scenes, I think, ‘Crikey, I’m glad that’s not me!’ I avoid them if I can, but if it adds to the story, I think it’s worthwhile.”
Viewers adore Stephen, whether he’s in or out of the bedroom. The 40-year-old has cemented his place as one of Australia’s most in-demand leading men during the past year.
Despite the fact that it was his role as Darryl Braxton in Home And Away that made him famous, he claims people “very rarely” ask him about Braxton anymore. Stephen has starred in three of the year’s most popular local dramas: Five Bedrooms, The Newsreader, and RFDS.
Stephen received his first AACTA Award nomination for best supporting actor in a drama for his performance as sports broadcaster Rob Rickards in The Newsreader.
“It was really unexpected,” he says. But it’s RFDS, filmed in Broken Hill in NSW’s far west, that he calls his “dream job”.
“Not sitting in any traffic, and driving out to a nice big sheep station to work all day – that was about as good as it can get for me,” he says.
Despite the fact that Channel Seven has yet to announce a second season, Stephen remains hopeful that RFDS will be renewed.
“I’d certainly love to be involved again if it did,” he says.
Stephen, who was born in the NSW small town of Dubbo, has come a long way since Year Nine when the films Forrest Gump and Braveheart “ignited a fire” in him to pursue a career in acting. It was something he kept quiet about at school back then. With a laugh, he recalls, “I didn’t tell a soul!” “I went to a high school where I was on an athletic scholarship, so my academic years were primarily focused on sports.”
Even at university, Stephen hid his acting ambitions from his friends.
“I was playing rugby at university and didn’t tell anyone that on weekends I was also doing a couple of drama units and a few amateur plays,” he explains. “I kept things low-key the whole time, and I still do.”
Stephen’s demeanor carries over into the rest of his life. He and his actress wife Bridgette Sneddon are content to spend evenings at home — so content, in fact, that the lockdowns of the previous two years had little impact on their social lives.
He says, “Any time I get to spend at home is excellent.” “Family time has always made me the happiest, and this trend has maintained. It was business as usual for the most part. We didn’t miss being able to go out to eat and do other things.”
Bridgette, who starred as former school principal Sophie Taylor in Home And Away from 2014 to 2015, has been auditioning for different roles, but she’s running into the same issue as many other local performers.
“I guess, like everyone, there’s less happening,” Stephen says.
However, there has been a positive to come out of that.
“We were fortunate that we were able to go together,” Stephen explains. “We’ve pretty much spent the entire year in Melbourne filming The Newsreader and Season 3 of Five Bedrooms, so we’re just blessed that we get to live in these different places and do it together. It’s fantastic.”
Stephen’s social life was unaffected by lockdown, and neither was his fitness. Except for a six-month period when he had a damaged knee, he claims he’s never been to the gym. He loves to work out at home or go for a run.
“I’m not a big fan of working out indoors,” he admits. “I don’t think I have much of a gym body, but I’m fit enough to run whenever I need to and play a couple of sets of tennis, so that’s good enough for me.”
He laughs off the idea of seeing himself as a sex symbol.
“I don’t think so! Looking at oneself in that light would be amusing.” Stephen is optimistic about the coming year. He’ll be seen in the WWI film Before Dawn, and he’s working on other projects as well.
“This career, you never know how much work is going to be around the corner,” he says. “All you can do is do your best on the jobs you get and enjoy yourself while you’re doing it. I never take it for granted when I’m on set.”
- Former Home and Away star Stephen Peacocke says he’s ‘one of Australia’s most fortunate actors’
- These are the biggest, gut-wrenchingly memorable moments in Home And Away history
- Summer Bay sweethearts: Home and Away’s 30 greatest couples of all time
- These Summer Bay’s past and present stars are still friends in Real-life
- Home and Away characters: Top 10 heroes we love and villains we hate from three decades of Summer Bay