After several failed attempts to make his mark on the acting world, Patrick O'Connor has landed the role of a lifetime. In his first television gig, the 25-year-old has joined Home And Away as Dean, the new leader of the infamous River Boys.
However, Patrick's big moment also comes with the pressure of meeting fans' expectations, including those set by his predecessor, Stephen Peacocke.
The popular actor, who once led the River Boys as Darryl "Brax" Braxton, left big shoes to fill when he left the show in 2016. Patrick admits he was nervous.
"The bad-boy role always has a bit of heat around it, and Steve left behind such a legacy," he tells TV WEEK. "But you're able to have a bit of fun with it, so that's exciting."
WATCH: Ash meets Dean for the first time (story continues after video)**
Born in Melbourne, Patrick found his love of the arts in his final year of high school. He went on to complete an acting course in Brisbane, before making the move to Sydney in 2015. After several trips around the audition circuit, he's more than ready to make his mark.
"I want to be different and make this role my own," Patrick says. "But at the same time, keep in touch with what it is to be a River Boy."
To prepare for the role, Patrick watched old episodes of H&A and sought advice from former stars Lincoln Younes and Nic Westaway.
"The boys loved their time on the show and told me to have fun with it," Patrick says. "I've also met Steve a few times and he's a lovely guy."
With fans and paparazzi already seeking out the newcomer on Sydney's Palm Beach, Patrick is bracing himself for what's to come – including the female attention.
"I'm aware that the River Boy role gets a bit of attention, but I don't think about it," he laughs. "Sometimes fans come to watch us film and it can be a little nerve-racking. For the most part, it's fine."
"A couple of times, the fans have seen the 'Blood And Sand' tattoo and got a little carried away," Patrick laughs. "But it's cool."