Locked down in COVID-hit Los Angeles, Travis Burns is feeling more than a little homesick. After three years in Hollywood, the devastating pandemic has made the former Neighbours star and his wife Emma Lane consider a hasty return to Melbourne.
"I wish I was in Australia right now," Travis, 29, reveals to TV WEEK.
Instead, he's speaking from across the Pacific, accompanied by his energetic Boston Terrier, Marvin.
"We thought about coming home, but with a dog, it's a bit of a nightmare," he adds.
Spending four years on Ramsay Street as Tyler Brennan, and even acting alongside his then-fiancée Emma, Neighbours has a very special place in Travis' heart.
"Emma and I did 12 episodes together and it was really fun," Travis says, speaking fondly of her character, Courtney Grixti, with whom Tyler had a relationship.
"We used to joke about during kissing scenes. The crew would yell, 'Cut, cut, cut', but, for a laugh, we'd just keep going. I mean, it was a hard job, but we got through it, you know?" [Laughs]
More importantly for Travis, his time in Neighbours introduced him to Scott McGregor, Matt Wilson, Lilly Van der Meer, Felix Mallard and Mavournee Hazel – co-stars who became friends and whom he remains in touch with today.
"Scott got me obsessed with golf and he's my go-to guy for when I need to vent about it," he says.
"I'm messaging Matt at the moment. Lilly came over for a little bit and stayed with us. Felix, we moved over [to the US] together. Most importantly, Mav, she's the best."
When asked if he'd consider returning to Ramsay Street, Travis had clearly already pondered the question.
"Mav and I had this conversation late last year," he says. "If Mav went back, I'd be very interested in going back, for sure. I'd love to do another storyline with Tyler and Piper. I wouldn't come back if it was with anyone else. My options are open and I won't turn down an offer without really thinking about it."
While he says Australia is "killing it" when it comes to handling COVID, it's a different reality for Travis and Emma in California."I remember the first two weeks, we didn't know what was going on or what was going to happen," he explains.
"Cut to now, we're still in lockdown. We're trying to stay busy, stay positive.
"It's been quiet during COVID and it's definitely taken a toll on the industry in America. But auditions are starting to come through now and I'm focusing as much as I can on that, giving it my all. We'll see what happens."
Before COVID slowed the industry, Travis was beginning to book leading roles in films, his latest being the mystery-thriller Dreamcatcher, where he stars as a troubled Aussie DJ, Dylan.
"Dylan is charismatic, very spiritual, but very troubled. He has an obsessive passion for his craft," Travis says, sharing that he was thankful to act in his usual Australian accent in the film so he could focus on the dimensions of the character.
Despite loving his time spent with Emma in the US, the couple eventually see their future back in Australia to have kids of their own.
"Em and I have talked about this a lot," Travis reveals. "As much as we love it here, we'll probably end up in Australia. It's beautiful, and the safest place on Earth. We want to end up having a family in Australia."