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Sebastian Goldspink
as Charlie Byrd

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Sebastian Goldspink as Charlie Exclusive interview with Sebastian Goldspink who played Charlie Byrd in Heartbreak High
 

Last December, I caught up with Sebastian Goldspink, who plays the character of Charlie. Although still in his twenties, Seb has seen much of the world, visiting many places including Europe and America. I asked him to tell me a little more about his trip over to the UK, "I did a few guest appearances in shows whilst I was over there - one of which was Live and Kicking which Zoe Ball was presenting. The three guests on the show that morning were me, somebody from the programme Eastenders, and the Spice Girls."

"It was Christmas time, my girlfriend Emma was with me and we were all singing Christmas carols with the Spice Girls - they were huge back then in England - but we didn't know too much about them in Australia - I didn't realise how massive they were until I got back home!"

Heartbreak High was a few years ago now, so I asked him what his favourite storyline was from his time on the show,
"I'd definitely say it was the whole Katerina thing," says Sebastian. Hardly surprising since the majority of his storylines were interconnected with Ada's. Although they didn't seem to 'click' at first, Ada and Seb soon became really good mates.

"I really got into that whole Katerina storyline because I enjoyed working with Ada and it was something that we spent a lot of time on. That huge storyline was probably the most enjoyable but I liked a lot of the other stuff too, for example the episode where we went to the bowling alley. We just spent the whole day there - me, Jonny Pollard and Vince Polletto went around bowling all day. It was great. One good thing about the cast was that at that time particularly we all got on really well, so it was just like hanging out with your mates."


"My favourite episode though was the one where Charlie goes crazy and destroys his science project gets on amphetamines. That was really challenging to shoot."
Sebastian admits though, that not all of his storylines were so enjoyable to film, "The first day was really really stressful - I'd come from a theatre background and I'd never really been on a film set before. The very first scene was the scene where Charlie walks through the playground and everyone's ridiculing him. They shot everything out of sequence, because that particular scene wasn't in the first episode Charlie appeared but it was the very first scene I filmed - everyone laughing at me."

"It was with Ada and Inge Hornstra - it kinda set the precedent - they were both very helpful to me. The next day was on location filming the episode where Charlie had the heart attack so I had to run around all day then pretend to have the attack. It was a very stressful week!"

When he landed the part of Charlie, Sebastian knew he had his work cut out for him, "I knew Inge Hornstra and Rupert Reid before I started on Heartbreak, so I'd watch to see them every once in a while but not that much because I was mostly at acting school and in plays. I didn't know a lot about the show, so when I started I watched it for about 10 hours a day, seriously."

"I'd say that Charlie was the most difficult character I've ever had to play - just because I played him for such a long time, and because it was my first gig at acting in front of a camera - it was an amazing learning curve. A lot of other people on Heartbreak High came from the background of doing other things before, I mean Ada had done other shows and all I'd been to was acting school before I came to the show. So everyone else had pretty much done stuff before when they arrived - it was just me by myself having to work it out. A weird thing too was my character arrived in isolation; he didn't arrive with any other characters, whereas a lot of the others arrived in groups of three or four. It was a bit more of a climate of 'Hey we've got some new people - so we've got to be nice to them and explain things to them', but yeah, with me it was just like *BAM*, straight in, so when I got the job I watched Heartbreak High all day!"

Sebastian recalls auditioning for the show "It was a really involved process - audition after audition after audition, definitely the hardest job I've ever got." Until finally one day - he still hadn't been given the role at this point - they dressed Seb up, cut his sideburns, put the 'Charlie glasses' on him and led him into a room, introducing him to Ada Nicodemou. They took photos of them together, seeing if they looked alright as a couple - that was the last audition. "I got a call the next day saying 'Yeah you've got the job - you start in a couple of weeks'."

There were many memorable scenes involving Charlie - some of them must have been rather embarrassing to shoot I'm sure. I asked Seb about Rupert Reid's last episode where Charlie dressed up as a female nurse, "Oh they'd always get me to do weird stuff like that. First of all, Charlie's initial wardrobe was ridiculous, like with his glasses and all that. It was just so embarrassing, I'd walk onto the set and everyone would just wet themselves with laughter - and they just kept doing that to me!! There was that nurses' uniform and they got me to wear this one piece bathing suit with Ada.

Unfortunately for Sebastian, people still remind him about those scenes, "Yeah, Ada always talks about the nurse incident, saying I would make the ugliest woman in the world - it was pretty shocking!"

Although he looks a lot like Charlie, Seb would say that he's not much like him personality wise. "I don't think that I'm nerdish like he was and I'm terrible at maths and science, so in that respect I think we're very different. We do both like computers though. He does a lot of things that I would never ever do like be intimidated by people and stuff, but yeah, he was a really fun character to play. He had a lot of levels - a sort of nice guy all the time but he'd also kind of freak out and fight back against people."

The way Seb got into acting is a little different to how you might expect, "I was never in school plays or anything like that but I got into acting by doing stand-up comedy at school. It was weird actually, I was given a job where I had to put on a chapel service for my school and I had to host it. It was meant to be all religious and serious, but instead I did it on 'the importance of positive thinking', with stuff like I would pull cute female teachers out of the audience and say 'If I was going to pick her up the best way to go about it would be to think positively…'"

"It was good fun and the other kids really liked it. That was the first time I ever realised I could stand up in front of an audience and everyone was saying 'Oh you should be an actor'"

After school, Sebastian went onto University, attending acting school at nights and on the weekends for three years. "A funny thing happened to me, when I was at uni - I wrote an essay for a subject called TV Drama. It was about multiculturism on TV, and I based it upon Heartbreak High - I ended up failing the essay, it must have been bad - but a year later I was in the show!"

Although Sebastian left Heartbreak High at the end of series five, he tells me that he still sees a lot of the people he worked with on the show, "Yeah, it's weird because a lot of us Heartbreak High guys all sort of still see each other. I had dinner with Ada, Callan, Lara, Jonny Pollard, Barbara Gouskos and some others not too long ago. Cal was DJ-ing so we got to see him which was cool."

I asked Sebastian if he ever gets recognised whilst in public still, since he did the show so long ago, "Yeah, last year I was in New York - and there was a group of about 200 French school kids there also. I was just walking along the street, having a coffee with my girlfriend and when they saw me they just went berserk! I don't speak much French and they just surrounded me in this street, and I was there, signing autographs and photos, all that kind of stuff. Then all these other 'New Yorkers' stopped and gathered around, they were saying "what's going on, who is this?". It was a mad mob scene - they were stopping the traffic as everyone thought it was Jack Nicholson or something!"

Since doing Heartbreak High, Sebastian has appeared in many other productions - "I did another tv show called 'Dog's Head Bay', it was a sitcom, I finished filming that last year, it had lots of Australian humour so you might not have seen it internationally. That was on ABC."

He has also starred in 'Wildside' (another Ben Gannon show), 'Murder Call', and couple of films including 'KICK', about rugby union players at a public school.

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