EXCLUSIVE: Behind the camera, returning Home & Away star Luke Jacobz is experiencing a heartbreaking reality

He's just returned to the show that shaped him - but things haven't been all smooth sailing.
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This should’ve been the happiest year of his life.

Luke Jacobz was only months away from tying the knot to his beautiful fiancée Raychel Stuart and beginning the next chapter as husband and wife.

Instead, he’s now facing one of the biggest challenges his relationship has ever seen.

While speaking with TV WEEK about his highly-anticipated return to Home and Away, the presenter and actor reveals that like many Australians at the moment, 2020 is proving to be “incredibly hard” due to the global pandemic as a result of COVID-19.

Luke’s big wedding plans have now been cancelled, with no new date in sight.

However, his circumstance is made all the more challenging by the fact that his American fiancée Raychel resides in the US – and is still there, unable to leave.

“She was supposed to come out here for Easter but couldn’t [due to restrictions in both the US and Australia]. We haven’t seen each other since January,” Luke explains.

“It’s been hard but we still talk every single day and try to plan for when we’ll see each other again.”

Luke was separated from his US-based fiancee due to COVID-19’s travel restrictions.


While the couple already endure the heartache of long-distance dating, Luke acknowledges that they’re at the mercy of two governments and the difficult path that lies ahead for both countries.

“Each time one of us left the country before, we knew when we would see each other. The next fight was already booked and it would be five weeks, maybe 10, at max,” he explains.

“Now, we just don’t know. We just have to do the best we can and stay positive. I’m looking forward to being in the same place hopefully soon.”

In the absence of face-to-face connection, Luke and Raychel are striving to keep in touch via Facetime. Date nights may look a little different, but Luke still has the moves!

“I put on a three-piece suit the other night and we shared a special dinner – sometimes we’ll just put on a movie and watch it,” he says.

“It’s important to keep that connection strong an when it’s your person, these are the things you do. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to keep her happy.”

As for their shelved wedding, which was originally scheduled for November, the former I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here contestant isn’t wallowing in what could’ve been.

“We’re definitely still getting married!” he reaffirms.

“We may have two smaller weddings – one in the US and the other here – and we’ve learnt to accept it and adapt. Instead of trying to fight what’s happening, we’re looking at the positives. Rach will get to wear her wedding dress twice [laughs]!”

Luke hasn’t had the smoothest year, but he’s looking on the bright side.

(Lawrence Furzey)

Coming home

Keeping busy has never been more important for Luke, who is using the distance to focus on his career.

His triumphant return to Home and Away after seven years isn’t without some nerves, but Luke is thrilled to get back into the detective shoes of his character, Angelo Rosetta, whom he played from 2007-2013.

“I was so excited when I got the phone call,” he says.

“I was at my nephew’s birthday lunch at Pizza Hut [laughs]! The phone rang and my agent mentioned Angelo returning to Summer Bay and my reply was, ‘You’re kidding! This is fantastic!’ I hung up Angelo’s boots a long time ago assuming he wouldn’t be coming back, so I was shocked to get that call.”

Angelo’s arrival in Summer Bay is bound to cause as much stir with fans as Luke’s appearance himself – but it’s not a joyful reunion.

“Angelo is a bit different this time around,” Luke hints.

“He’s there for one reason and doesn’t want to make friends. I worked mainly with Tim Franklin, but it was a lot of fun to be reunited with the likes of Ada Nicodemou, Lynne McGranger and Emily Symons who I’ve known for many years.

“I actually met Tim Franklin [who plays police officer Colby Thorne] at the Perth telethon a while ago and we were laughing at how we both play cops and exchanging stories about our time on the show… a few months later, I was putting the suit on to play opposite him!”

Luke was thrilled to return to Summer Bay.

(Channel Seven)

Stepping onto the sands of Palm Beach, the filming location for the fictional town of Summer Bay, is often met with nostalgia and trepidation for returning cast.

Luke was no different. But of all people to resume his acting career with, it was series stalwart Ray Meagher who put Luke through his paces.

“It was great to revisit Angelo and add years on to this character,” Luke recalls.

“My first day back was with Ray and he helped me dust off the cobwebs! In a way, it’s as if time has passed but nothing has changed. It feels like home.”

Screen grab

Luke’s original departure from the drama series in 2013 led him to try other opportunities as a presenter on The X Factor, Instant Hotel and The Proposal.

His skills in front of the camera kept him in good stead, but the flame for acting never died out.

“When I first started back on set, I tried not to use my hands as much like I do when I’m presenting. But once you get back into the flow of it, it starts to feel right, so it could be harder to do more presenting now!” he says.

But Luke isn’t ruling out any projects that may fall his way. After becoming a first-time reality contestant on I’m a Celeb, Luke is more open-minded about his career than he ever expected to be.

Could he be lured back into the jungle?

“Absolutely,” he replies before adding that he was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback from fans.

“In a way, I guess the show opened up the windows into Luke Jacobz and allowed people to see another side to me; one that isn’t on stage or screen.

“I had so much fun in the jungle; I wanted to go back in as soon as I left! I enjoyed it so much. I’d also love to have a presenting role on the show [alongside Dr Chris Brown and Julia Morris], but I’d be jealous of the people who get to go in.”

Luke was a fan favourite on I’m A Celebrity.

(Network Ten)

Closer to home, rural drama series McLeod’s Daughters is having its own resurgence – and former cast member Luke is already eyeing his spot on the farm. The actor played the role of Patrick Brewer from 2005-2009.

“I would love to be involved in the show,” he enthuses.

“I’ve spoken to a crew member I know who may be working on the reboot and have put my hand up to be involved. If Drovers Run opens up again, I’ll gladly step back onto the farm.”

It would seem that despite a difficult year that continues to unfold with uncertainty, Luke isn’t backing down from his dreams.

There’s a drive in him that could’ve easily been stifled by the personal hardships.

But as he goes on to explain, there’s always a silver lining – you just have to know where to look.

“You have to look on the bright side of life and I try to do that – even when things are hard or challenging,” he says.

“I try to inspire others to do the same. Things won’t always be easy, we can go through terrible times and it’s understandable to feel down.

“But I have always been a goofy guy who finds the positives. I want to make people smile and if I can continue to have that attitude, it’ll help me out of the more difficult times. And maybe help others too.”

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