TV

EXCLUSIVE: Jackson Heywood spills on his biggest regrets, the dark side of Hollywood and why he won't return to Home and Away any time soon

The Bloom star reflects on life, love and his colourful career in his most candid interview yet.

By Erin Doyle
Almost a year after bidding farewell to Summer Bay, Jackson Heywood has well and truly landed on his feet.
While some stars from the soap jet off to Hollywood searching for their next big gig in Tinseltown, or shun the spotlight altogether after putting Home And Away in the rear view mirror, the Aussie actor nabbed a role in one of the most lauded local productions: Stan's Bloom.
Starring alongside acting heavyweights Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown (Jackson plays a younger version of his character) and Phoebe Tonkin, the 31-year-old looks to be in no danger of fading into obscurity.
Ahead of the TV WEEK Logie award-winning show's second season dropping on Stan on April 9, Jackson sat down with Now To Love on-set to chat about his impressive new gig, explains why Home and Away fans shouldn't hold out hope he'll come back as Brody and reflects on his life, love and the "vapid" world of Hollywood.
Jackson plays Young Ray in Bloom's season two. Image: Stan
How is your character, young Ray, involved in Bloom's second season?
I can't really reveal too much but the concept is if you take a berry, yes you become young again but you become young again to get a second chance and what that second chance is, is solving that regret that you harboured in your life. So it is about regret, whether you hold regret or hold on to it.
Ray's berries don't work in the first season because he's not a regretful man. He married the love of his life, he married this superstar starlet and you know, spent his life making her happy and she saved him from a rough path that he could have gone down and so I think he's won, he's struck gold. So he could die happy.
Then in the second season, something happens that then is his fault even though it wasn't. He feels guilty because with Gwen [played by Phoebe Tonkin and Jacki Weaver], this berry has basically corrupted her and made her into something that he never thought she would be. Her demeanour changes and it causes her a lot of pain. So I think where that regret comes from is just how much he's hurt her and he wishes he could undo that and make that right again and the berry gives him the chance to do that.
WATCH: Bloom wins a TV WEEK Logie Award for Most Outstanding Miniseries or Telemovie. Story continues below...
What was involved in transforming into young Ray – is it an elaborate process?
It's pretty cool, because I've never had to wear a wig before and I didn't know I was getting one when I got the show or fake sideburns. The process for the sideburns… it's yak hair. So they glue it, they literally just put glue on your face and they lay it on in layers and they cut like you're cutting hair, with scissors.
For the wig, they basically put glue in your hair then flatten it because springs get stuck in there – they're the anchor points for the wig. So it's really snug on your head. Then they put basically a stocking so the front part is my hair and I had to grow that out and then they blend that in with the rest of the wig. Then they just whack the wig on. And the springs, they use them to put pins through and that keeps them snug at the end. It takes like 45 minutes.
What was it like to work with industry stalwart Bryan Brown? Did he give you any sage advice?
The only scene I have with him is when I change back into him. When I found out I got the role, they said we can get you guys together. We just went to The Rocks [in Sydney], had a beer up there and just talked sh-t, you know? Talked sh-t for an hour and a half.
Since then he's really been on my side. [He told me] to just to trust yourself. I think that's the most valuable thing for anyone is to trust yourself and to trust your instinct and that's where it all lives. And just to be a nice person.
You could be a good actor and a great actor and also be a good, decent person and care about everyone on set. Don't be a diva. And I think that's what you want to be. You don't want to be the opposite.
Bloom's cast Jackson Heywood, Phoebe Tonkin and Bryan Brown. Image: Stan
Would you ever go back to Home and Away or is that something you're leaving in the past?
No. I think that's a question that you answer when you're there. Do you stay or do you go? I chose to go because I wanted to see what else is out there and I don't have a mortgage, I don't have kids, I don't have a girlfriend. Like, I'd kind of like all those things but yeah, I just had the freedom to do it and I thought I may as well.
Some people didn't make that choice. My on-screen siblings – two of them James Stewart and Penny McNamee] are still on there. They've got kids, they're a bit older and I think they're happy there.
While Jackson enjoyed his time on Home and Away as part of the Morgans (pictured), he has no plans to return. Image: Instagram
Do you keep in touch with your on-screen siblings from the show?
Yeah, for sure. But it's such big hours they do there. Once you're out of that bubble, you kind of lose touch. Like you'll always love them and you'll always be able to call them up for a beer if you're ever in the same city but yeah, it's a bubble.
I reckon if you walk away from there with like one really good friend, that's all that matters. I love Sophie, Sophie Dillman because you know, she played my wife on the show so I still make an effort to keep in touch with her every now and then. And Scott Lee has become my best mate. My best "actor friend" [laughs]
WATCH: Jackson's Home and Away character Brody is torn between two women. Story continues below...
Jackson admits he "loves" Sophie Dillman (pictured) who played his on-screen wife Ziggy. Image: Channel Seven
What was it like to work with Home and Away co-star Scott Lee again for Bloom despite not sharing any scenes?
Scott is the only one in the industry that I feel like is my real brother. We even helped each other audition all the last year. We auditioned to play brothers in a play and then we both didn't get that and then we both found out that we got this. So it was pretty cool. We found out on the same day and he was 100 metres from me when we both got the call and I was taking myself for a beer.
He rocks up with a big smile on his face. And we're not allowed to tell anyone at that point but we just did anyway because we knew from each other's faces.
WATCH: Go behind-the-scenes as Scott Lee makes a splash at TV WEEK photo shoot. Story continues below...
Scott Lee and Jackson are as close as brothers and reunited for Bloom. Image: Stan
Given the way your character left Home and Away [Brody cheated on his on-screen wife Ziggy], did you get much backlash?
Yeah, people think it's real – it's pretty funny. I had a couple of them [telling me they hate me] but look, no one's going to come up and punch you.
I knew that was maybe going to be a thing when the storyline started but it's just the way the character went, it's the direction the writers chose so I just took it on the chin. I had such a good run that I was like, "Ah I can cop a bit of grief for the last little stint."
Bryan Brown (left) gave Jackson the advice to "trust himself". Image: Instagram
One of the biggest themes in Bloom is regret. Do you have any in your own life?
There's millions of little ones that you just kind of forget about but that's life. You do things and think you could have done that better. As far as big ones, I mean they're just very personal, the ones that I would think of – they're more specific to a certain memory or time that something happened that was maybe traumatic and the way I dealt with it that I would have changed. And sometimes looking back on some stuff, I regret not trusting myself, that's the one that keeps coming back. But in my core being, no, I'm a pretty regretless person I think.
Ray is the sort of character who would do anything for the one he loves – in this case the love of his life Gwen. What's the craziest thing you've ever done for love?
For love I was willing to move cities for this girl. I was so sure – we kind of had this on-and-off love affair but we were never in the same city. Like, I moved to a different country. We kept wanting to be with each other but it kept just… we were both just at stages of our careers where we couldn't do anything about it.
At one point, I just went stuff it, I'll make the move. But then, again, something happened and I couldn't – I think that was when I got Home and Away - and I just said, "I can't, I've got this job".
Jackson, who once dated Robin Williams' daughter Zelda (pictured) admitted moving to another country for a woman was the craziest thing he's done for love. Image: Instagram
Speaking of being overseas, you did the whole Hollywood thing for a while. What's the most out-there encounter you had while living there?
The thing that struck me was just how vapid everyone is. People are so agenda-driven and transparent but they think they're not.
But everyone is too afraid of annoying anyone else so they don't call anyone on their bullsh-t. So people just lie to each other and get away with it. I had a friend who had half a million dollars stolen from him. This guy dated him for a while and just basically charmed him enough to give him his credit card.
Bloom season two is streaming on Stan from April 9