PER­FECT BLEND

From Aus­tralia’s hottest tradie, to an un­der­wear model, for­mer car­pen­ter Matt Wil­son fi­nally found his ‘‘per­fect blend’’ as a gay male strip­per in Neigh­bours, where cast and ca­reer make best friends

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Five years ago Wil­son was a car­pen­ter on build­ing sites in Syd­ney, and never imag­ined a life in front of the cam­era – un­til a chance en­counter.

“I won this com­pe­ti­tion called Aus­tralia’s Hottest Tradie in 2010,’’ he says.

‘‘There was no real skill in­volved in that, but it gave me this plat­form all of a sud­den.

‘‘As part of it, I had to do some pre­sent­ing, ap­pear­ance and speak­ing jobs.”

The trou­ble was that Wil­son bat­tled ex­treme anx­i­ety is­sues, pre­fer­ring to shun the lime­light be­cause of stage fright.

“It was pretty shock­ing,’’ he says. ‘‘Stand­ing up in front of peo­ple, even a small group, I’d feel so anx­ious and just ut­terly ter­ri­fied. Peo­ple ex­pect some­thing from you … you can’t get it out quite right. It’s hor­ri­ble. My voice would go all mono­tone. I’d freeze (and) feel like I was chok­ing.

“It wasn’t nice. Even hav­ing to give a speech at a wed­ding was nerve-rack­ing.’’

The idea of per­form­ing had al­ways ap­pealed to him though, so Wil­son con­fronted his fears and made the most of the new op­por­tu­ni­ties in front of him.

“I took my­self off to NIDA (Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Arts) to do some classes and get more com­fort­able with be­ing in front of peo­ple,’’ he says.

‘‘They teach you how to own the stage and feel at ease.’’

It worked – so much so that one of the teach­ers sug­gested Wil­son try his hand at act­ing.

There were a few small roles to fol­low, in­clud­ing in Un­der­belly: The Golden Mile and travel show Get­away.

But the big­gest thing to come out of be­ing de­clared the hottest tradesman in the coun­try was a phone call from undies brand aussieBum.

“They asked me to model for them and I thought, why not?’’ he says. ‘‘The shoot was out­side in a public park and it was very over­whelm­ing.

‘‘I felt naked. I mean, I pretty much al­most was.”

Wil­son has since ap­peared in var­i­ous in­ter­na­tional ad cam­paigns.

“It’s a fun job,’’ he says. ‘‘I kind of en­joy that ner­vous energy that comes with it and the hi­lar­ity of stand­ing around out­side in my jocks.”

Wil­son hung up his tool belt this year to put all of his energy into chas­ing his big act­ing break on Neigh­bours.

He de­scribes the set as “the friendli­est work­place ever”.

He has par­tic­u­larly bonded with the ac­tors who play his on­screen broth­ers Scott McGre­gor and Travis Burns, who por­tray Mark and Tyler.

“We clicked straight away,” Wil­son said. “While I was wait­ing to hear whether I got the job, I was watch­ing the show re­li­giously and see­ing those guys on screen was awe­some.”

The job meant re­lo­cat­ing from Syd­ney to Mel­bourne, leav­ing be­hind mates and his long-term girl­friend.

“It has been a huge ad­just­ment. I won’t lie. But I’m ab­so­lutely lov­ing it so far,” he says. “How of­ten do peo­ple get to turn their pas­sion into a ca­reer?”

Pic­ture: TONY GOUGH

Ac­tor Matt Wil­son, 26, on the set of long-run­ning Ten Net­work soap opera

Neigh­bours

af­ter mov­ing from Syd­ney to Mel­bourne to join the cast.

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