A Savage triumph
Jason Donovan returns to the screen as the wily legal opponent in MDA, write Rachel Corcoran and Darren Devlyn
JASON Donovan’s performance in MDA was proof beyond doubt of the depth of his talents as an actor. He’s been in the industry 25 years, but when Donovan portrayed lawyer Richard Savage in the ABC series, it was a clear illustration of the actor’s determination to deliver a multidimensional performance.
Donovan, 40, infused Savage with threads of unpleasantness, but worked equally hard to bring a sense of humanity to the character.
‘‘Success to me when I was doing Neighbours was being mobbed by 500 kids at Westfield shopping centre,’’ Donovan has previously told the Guide.
‘‘Now success is about being here and working with people I admire . . . success is thinking I’ve done a bloody good scene.’’
Donovan (right), who appears in repeat screenings of MDA on ABC2, says life experiences — including messing with drugs and becoming a father — have given him perspective about what’s important.
When the bombshell news broke that old flame Kylie Minogue had breast cancer, for example, Donovan quickly got in touch with her.
‘‘I was shocked and concerned to hear of Kylie’s illness,’’ he said in an interview in the UK. ‘‘We’re old friends and have drifted in our own directions. But I sent her a card when she was ill and she wrote back.
‘‘Kylie’s cancer really brought it home to me how unimportant what we do for a living is. It’s really made me value my two kids more.’’
As Scott Robinson, Donovan kept viewers hooked on Neighbours in the ’80s. More than 19 million people tuned in to watch his character marry Charlene Mitchell, played by Minogue.
Donovan and Minogue were an off-screen item for three years before splitting up. A gutted Donovan had to sit back and watch as Minogue’s career soared and she began an intense affair with INXS singer Michael Hutchence.
IT’S all ancient history for Donovan, who has a long-term relationship with Angela Malloch. ‘‘I only have eyes for my partner (Malloch),’’ he says with a smile. ‘‘She’s a natural, down-to-earth person. Sex is no longer my priority, I want more than that. Sex comes and goes. We have a great love and we’re a great team.’’
Malloch was stage manager on The Rocky Horror Picture Show when she met Donovan in 1998. At the time, he was battling a 3g-a-day cocaine habit and says she helped get his life back on track.
They live together in London with their two children, Jemma and Zach.
‘‘I’m glad I’m not married to someone who is on the front line of show business,’’ he says.
‘‘I’m not saying all relationships between actors and actresses fail, but I’m just happy I’ve found someone who’s a soul mate.’’
He admits that, like his pal from I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, David Gest, he may have plastic surgery.
‘‘I’d consider it in about 20 years,’’ Donovan says with a laugh. ‘‘But it doesn’t appeal to me now. I wouldn’t get a hair transplant, though. If it got to that stage, I’d just shave it off.
‘‘My family made me realise what’s important in life. I can understand how people like the Beckhams get through their problems.
‘‘It’s because they have a family. When David scores a goal, he’s probably thinking of his kids. When I perform, I have my kids on the side of the stage.
‘‘Two years ago, I was playing clubs and that paid the bills, but I wasn’t selling out dates around the country. I don’t have anything to prove. I spent the ’90s trying to be cool. It wasn’t until my kids were born that I realised everything else is bulls---.’’