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
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?”
Actor Matt Wilson, 26, on the set of long-running Ten Network soap opera
after moving from Sydney to Melbourne to join the cast.