WHAT’S UP DOC?

DOC­TOR DOC­TOR STAR RYAN JOHN­SON YEARNS FOR A RE­TURN TO HIS GOLD COAST ROOTS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - JEMMA GALVIN

Its pre­miere at­tracted more than two mil­lion viewers and Doc­tor Doc­tor was re­cently an­nounced to be com­ing back for a sec­ond sea­son, along with its en­tire cast.

Among them will be Ryan John­son, the for­mer Cur­rumbin nip­per whose char­ac­ter Matt is the brother of the show’s pro­tag­o­nist Hugh, played by Roger Corser.

Born in Mel­bourne but a Gold Coast guy at heart, John­son has been fully in­vested in the act­ing and per­for­mance game for as long as he can re­mem­ber. He re­cently re­turned to where that dream took hold – Som­er­set Col­lege, for his 20-year high school re­union.

After the re­union’s for­mal­i­ties and ex­plor­ing the school’s now “mono­lithic gym”, Ryan says things re­ally started to get in­ter­est­ing.

“We rocked up to Jupiters’ Gar­den Kitchen and Bar, then they moved next door and I peeled off, but all the mums were just rockin’ out at like two in the morn­ing. Hi­lar­i­ous!” he laughs. “They’re like: ‘Hubby’s got (the kids), this is my time!’ So that was fun.”

It’s a sense of fun and ad­ven­ture that has al­ways stayed with Ryan, now 37, when it comes to de­scrib­ing life and his history on the Gold Coast. For him, life as a young­ster here was all about spend­ing time with good mates in the sum­mer sun­shine.

“We lived in Cur­rumbin Waters, and I had friends in Tu­gun and Cur­rumbin and Palm Beach, and I had surf­board racks on my moun­tain bike. I had a friend who lived on 15th Ave and I’d go and spend ev­ery day of the sum­mer hol­i­days at his place. I’d ride my pushy over, surf all hol­i­days,” he says.

The week­ends were time for Ryan and his close-knit fam­ily to get in­volved in their lo­cal com­mu­nity and bond with like-minded out­doorsy types.

“If we weren’t do­ing nip­pers, we were in the surf or hang­ing out with other nip­per fam­i­lies, camp­ing with them. It was just con­stantly about ac­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in things. And never ever be­ing bored,” he says.

“It was such a far cry from in­ner-city Syd­ney life I see now, where ev­ery­one is so digi­tised. And he­li­copter par­ent­ing, which I’m kind of guilty of my­self.”

The child in line of that watch­ful eye is Ryan’s twoyear-old daugh­ter Alia. They, along with Ryan’s wife of 15 years, screen­writer Tamara As­mar, today live in Syd­ney to be close to work. The ocean­swept calls of the Gold Coast have never quite shushed for the ac­tor and fam­ily man though.

“We’ve been up to Queens­land a cou­ple of times re­cently and I see Alia splash­ing about in the pool at my dad’s house that I grew up in, and play­ing in the sand at Cur­rumbin Beach, and she’s just so happy and re­laxed, soakin’ up the vi­ta­min D.”

Today Ryan finds val­i­da­tion in the fact he’s one of Aus­tralia’s most recog­nis­able and like­able ac­tors, not to men­tion the fact his mar­riage to wife Tamara puts the sad ma­jor­ity of Hol­ly­wood ro­mances to shame.

“Tamara used to work at a public­ity firm in my old agent’s build­ing and I just thought I’d go in there and try to get her at­ten­tion be­cause she was gor­geous, still is,” Ryan re­mem­bers. “She was see­ing a guy, so I just hung around un­til he left and struck when the mo­ment was hot. And I’ve been punch­ing above my weight ever since.”

Today the pair share their daugh­ter Alia, as well as cred­its on Doc­tor Doc­tor; Ryan in the role of Matt and Tamara in the role of screen­writer.

Ryan jokes that hav­ing your bet­ter half pen scenes de­pict­ing the sex­ual chem­istry be­tween you and your on-screen wife can be rather amus­ing.

“In the episodes ev­ery­one else had writ­ten it’s like, Matt and Charlie fin­ish hav­ing sex; Matt and Charlie make out … In Tamara’s episodes it’s more, Charlie nuz­zles into Matt, where she’s al­ways be­longed; Matt holds Charlie’s hand for com­fort … In sea­son two she’ll prob­a­bly write, Matt ques­tions his sex­u­al­ity and joins the min­istry!” he laughs.

Ryan and Tamara are in good com­pany on the Doc­tor Doc­tor set, with huge names in the Aus­tralian tele­vi­sion in­dus­try be­ing in­volved both in front of and be­hind the cam­era. Clau­dia Kar­van is one of the se­ries’ ex­ec­u­tive pro­duc­ers.

“Those were some pretty nerve-rack­ing days, those first few on set, where she’s just sit­ting there watch­ing you act and you’re think­ing: ‘I’ve loved you for so long as an ac­tor.’ I mean I had a crush on her in The Big Steal, and that was back in the ‘90s,” he says.

“It’s a pretty awe­some cal­i­bre of peo­ple in­volved (in Doc­tor Doc­tor), and I’m just a tiny part of that.”

Film­ing for the show took place be­tween the cen­tral NSW town of Mudgee, which served as the show’s fic­tional ham­let of Why­hope, and a pic­turesque area out­side of Syd­ney called Camden. Get­ting the lo­ca­tions just right meant a lot of driv­ing for the cast and crew, which was ex­haust­ing but worth­while, ac­cord­ing to Ryan.

“That’s the great thing about what I do. When you’re work­ing it’s re­ally in­tense but you get paid well, so you can af­ford then to have more time as a par­ent,” he says.

“Tamara’s work­ing on sev­eral projects at the mo­ment and Alia and I go and do our day to­gether. We’ll go to the park after 15 out­fit changes or we’ll go to the in­door park if it’s rain­ing. Or we’ll wa­ter plants, or play with sand, or we’ll draw or we’ll talk, or dance … It’s a pretty awe­some day.

“And it’s ex­haust­ing!” he laughs.

IT’S A PRETTY AWE­SOME CAL­I­BRE OF PEO­PLE IN­VOLVED (IN DOC­TOR

DOC­TOR), AND I’M JUST A TINY PART OF THAT

Pic­ture: DYLAN ROBIN­SON

Ac­tor Ryan John­son who stars in the Chan­nel 9 drama Doc­tor Doc­tor along­side co-stars (inset) Ni­cole Da Silva and (right) Rodger Corser.

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