Ask anyone in the Australian TV industry who the nicest person they've worked with is and the answer that comes up time and again is Stephen Peacocke.
That's thanks to the lad from Dubbo in country NSW's down-to-earth nature and ability not to take the industry too seriously. Stephen feels lucky to be a working actor and always keeps his head down to make sure the jobs keep being offered.
And in 2020, he'll be seen in three big network shows: the Nine Network's Informer 3838, season two of Five Bedrooms on Network 10, and Channel Seven's new drama RFDS.
It's a rainy day in Melbourne when TV WEEK catches up with the actor during a break in filming for Informer 3838.
After a photo shoot – which he admits is very much out of his comfort zone – and saying goodbye and thank you to everyone who helped on set, Steve, 38, is ready to talk about why everything in 2020 is coming up Peacocke.
TV WEEK: This is a big year for you, with three shows on the box. That must feel good.
SP: Whenever you can get a good job, you take it. I always look for the best writing. It doesn't matter which country that's in, I'll go there. My wife [former Home And Away actress Bridgette Sneddon] and I are based in LA now, because we have a Green Card, but we've been able to do six months in Australia and six months there, which is great.
Was your move to LA partly to refresh from being Brax in Home And Away for so long?
I was never consciously doing that. I'm not precious about it. I think of it as being lucky if you have success, so I wasn't trying to get away from that – I was never trying to rebrand myself or show myself in a different light. I think that just comes naturally with the different jobs you get. I've never been good at strategising.
You've mentioned you've come close to some big roles in LA, but just missed out. Any you can mention?
Oh, no – I don't want to say what they were. [Laughs] But yes, there have been a few times where it's come down to me and one other person.
Before you had regular work, did you ever consider that you might need to jump in a truck and do deliveries like you did before you were in Home And Away?
I'm lucky that Bridgette and I don't live an expensive lifestyle and that the jobs I've done have been generously paid. I've been lucky to work on good things. Thankfully, the last truck I unloaded was about 10 years ago.
Many in the industry talk of how down-to-earth you are. What do you think has kept you grounded?
I think a big part of it is growing up with family who took nothing for granted. I always think it's a bit embarrassing to talk yourself up – my parents taught me to be respectful and appreciative and to just work bloody hard.
Your family and friends in Dubbo have been working hard this year, especially because of the drought. How does seeing those images affect you?
There are lots of farmers out there who are doing it tough, but they're such strong operators. It's inspirational to see people going through tough times. There's a resilience in the country that's inspirational for everyone – especially when you come to the city and people lose their minds if a cafe doesn't serve the right type of soy milk.
Informer 3838 is based on the story of Nicola Gobbo, the criminal barrister who turned police informer. You play police officer Paul Dale. What attracted you to the character?
It was just really well written. Everyone knows the story from seeing it on the news. They're all complicated characters, and it's a part of Australian history. Obviously, the characters are real – you can look them up – and that's always interesting.
How much time did you put into researching the real-life Paul Dale?
The bloke I play wrote a book, which I had a read of, which was interesting. You try to look at that stuff, then put it in the back of your mind and play what's on the page. I think the audience will find it intriguing. And Ella Scott Lynch, who plays Nicola, is just a bloody good actress. She makes it look effortless, the way great actors do.
And Gyton Grantley is back as underworld figure Carl Williams. What was it like sharing a set with him?
His role as Carl in the first Underbelly [in 2008]was a landmark performance, as far as I'm concerned. It made a big impact on me when I watched it – to think Australian TV could be that good. It was on around the same time as The Sopranos and I remember thinking it was a bit ambitious for Australia. But they nailed it. It's good to see he's come back to the role.
Did you have to change physically at all for the role?
I've never been into working out anyway. [Laughs] I keep a reasonable level of fitness.
WATCH BELOW: The Rafters cast remembers. Post continues after video...
You're good mates with Rebecca Gibney.
Yep, for a Kiwi, she's a really nice person! [Laughs] When we worked together on Wanted, it was the Rugby Union World Cup and the Aussies lost to the All Blacks [in the final in 2015]. Let me tell you, it wasn't easy being on set – she made that win known to me.
Considering you're close mates, would you ever consider taking part in the Packed To The Rafters reboot Rebecca is working on? Weren't you an extra in the show?
I think I played a waiter and you saw my arm for two seconds. My skills as a waiter haven't improved over the years, but yes – I'd love to work with Bec again. She's such a lovely person – and you don't have a career like that unless you're good at what you do.