Mum’s the word
Home and Away’s tough guy Jake Ryan reveals his soft side
JAKE Ryan is winning admirers left, right and centre as Summer Bay’s brooding bad boy ‘Robbo’. But there will only ever be one woman who can truly claim super-fan status – and that’s Jake’s mum Mandy.
An avid Home and Away viewer from way back, she’s over the moon that her 34-year-old son has scored a coveted role on her favourite soap – after years of trying.
“She loves the show and has for a long time,” says Ryan, who admits he also watched it growing up.
“Even when I gave up hope that I’d ever get a role on Home and Away and was like, ‘Sorry mum, that ship’s sailed’, she still watched.
“So when this came up, she was really happy. I’m actually bringing her up to the set next week from Melbourne. She’s really excited – she’s going to be like a little kid at school.”
Once a semiprofessional taekwondo competitor (he trained for 18 years and was the youngest person in the country at the time to gain a black belt at the age of nine), Ryan arrived at acting late in life, after an injury sidelined him from a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympic team. He studied, later graduating to roles in Underbelly: Razor, the Wolf Creek series (for Stan) and a small role in the Baz Luhrmann film The Great Gatsby.
He also starred as Harry Smith, Bea Smith’s abusive husband, for three years on the acclaimed Aussie drama Wentworth, a role he credits as best preparing him to play Robbo, an amnesiac with a mysterious past.
“It was an intense experience,” he says.
“But without Wentworth and that challenge I don’t think I’d be getting the work I’ve had over the past couple of years.
“It made me look at these [bad boy] roles in a different way. I hated Harry Smith, and I didn’t want to touch him, or do anything like that. But it was a good character exercise, to think, ‘ Why is he like he is?’”
Ryan is clearly committed to getting inside the heads of his characters and doing whatever it takes to physically inhabit his roles.
“I like to ‘match’ my character a bit,” he says.
“So if he’s a fit character who does a lot of training, I will try to get as close to that as I can. Or if it’s a character who is the complete opposite, I am happy to put the weight on, which is what I did for Wentworth.”
Ryan says he’s relishing the chance to join the show and get under the skin of another complicated character.
“When I first started getting work in the industry, it tended to be the cops and the good guys. But in the past six years or so I have been quite happily typecast as a bit of a bad boy,” he says.
“I like those guys. They are a lot of fun. There are a lot of layers to those blokes.”
HOME AND AWAY
MONDAY TO THURSDAY, 7PM, SEVEN
New role: Jake Ryan (pictured left with his mum Mandy) has recently joined the cast of HomeandAway.