A Sav­age tri­umph

Ja­son Dono­van re­turns to the screen as the wily le­gal op­po­nent in MDA, write Rachel Cor­co­ran and Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - News -

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---.’’

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