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Home and Away

EXCLUSIVE: How Home and Away's Sophie Dillman and Patrick O'Connor keep work separate from their relationship

''We’ve been doing it so long now that it’s the norm.''

By Alana Mazzoni
Nothing gets Home and Away fans more excited than an on-screen relationship that spills over into real life.
So when Summer Bay favourite Sophie Dillman started dating Patrick O'Connor, who plays her character Ziggy's boyfriend, we were all in for a real treat.
While living together and spending 12 hours a day on set with your partner might sound like a recipe for relationship disaster, Sophie tells TV WEEK that it's never been an issue.
Sophie's character Ziggy the on-screen girlfriend of Patrick's character Dean. (Image: Seven)
"Because we were working together before we were dating, I already knew what he was like in the work world," she tell us.
"And he was playing [Ziggy's] love interest, so I also got to work out whether he was a good kisser and all that sort of stuff before I actually took the bait," she laughs.
The 28-year-old, who's played Ziggy since 2017, says it's been surprisingly easy to separate their personal and professional lives.
"We've sort of made boundaries of 'work is work and home is home'," Sophie says.
"Especially at work, you're playing a character, you're not playing yourself. So it's not like Sophie and Patty are having an argument, it's Dean and Ziggy. And we're very different from our characters so it's most of the time fine."
Sophie and Patrick have been dating since 2019. (Image: Instagram)
The 28-year-old says private matters can sometimes follow her and Patrick onto the set, but they always manage to make light of it.
"We laugh about if we have an argument at home and then we have to be happy on set, that's the best acting you do!" she laughs.
"We've been doing it so long now that it's the norm."
When it comes to her future on Home and Away, Sophie has no plans on leaving on her own accord.
The 28-year-old, who's been a permanent fixture on the show since 2017, says she'll gladly stay until Ziggy is written out of the show.
"It's when the writers decide to stop writing for you. It's not like I go, "yep I'm going to keep staying" or "I'm going to go"," she says.
"Ultimately, you're there as a character not as yourself. The character is written for the actor and they choose the actor to play the character not the other way round."
"But I would honestly love to stay for as long as I possibly can, I still learn every day. Until Ziggy is ready to go, Sophie is happy to stay!"
Sophie visibly lights up when talking about her love for Home and Away, but working on a fast-paced set doesn't come without its challenges.
"I would honestly love to stay on Home and Away for as long as I possibly can." (Image: Seven)
"We work really hard, there's no doubt. [Shooting] 10 scenes a day is a minimum for us," she reveals.
"They are really long days and absolutely we all work really hard and deserve every holiday that we get. But it's an incredible set full of the kindest, most dedicated people.
While Home and Away's stars are the faces of the long-running soap, Sophie says the crew is who really keeps it all going.
"They are honestly the best of the best and are doing three people's jobs that would be compared to a different set," she gushes.
"We work really hard, there's no doubt." (Image: Instagram)
"They are absolutely on top of it. [Home and Away] has been running for 35 years so it is a perfectly oiled machine and as an actor you just fit into the cog and play your character and you just keep going."
Sophie says the Summer Bay set is the perfect place for emerging actors to get equipped for the cutthroat TV and film industry.
"I couldn't think of a better place for people to work because you hone your craft, you learn how to use a set, use a script, use a scene partner and everything in between," she explains.
"You're primed and ready to go for anything that comes your way. I'm not worried about being on set at any point. I've spent five years working 12-hour days, you know exactly what's going to happen."
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