Anyone who has been a long-time fan of ‘Neighbours’ will instantly – and fondly – recognise the name “Toadfish.” This year, Ryan Moloney has played the role of Jarrod Rebecchi on our screens for 20 years, taking the character from infamous teenage prankster to troubled lawyer and family man. We met up with Ryan to find out his best memories of growing up on the show and what he hopes for his future in Ramsay Street (hint: it involves monkeys and ice-cream).
When you first started on Neighbours, you were a bit-part character before the producers decided to develop the role. What do you think it was about Toadie that made you full-time in the soap?
I think you always need someone in a soap that you dislike, someone that causes trouble, and that’s what Toadie was. Everyone loved Billy (Kennedy – played by Jesse Spencer) so they needed the anti-hero.
Do you have any characteristics that you share with your character; are there many cross-overs between you and Toadie?
Sense of humour, I guess and sense of honesty – I’d like to say I have more integrity than Toadie!
He does get into some scrapes! How much do the writers listen to your ideas and allow you to put your own spin on the character?
They do take storylines from you and if you input certain characteristics, then they watch it back and like it, they’ll start writing those into the scripts too. You also have freedom into how you actually play your lines too.
Are there any storylines that Toadie has been involved in over the years that you didn’t enjoy playing?
To be honest, the Steph storyline where Steph was pregnant with Libby’s ex and then Toadie married her and pretended he was the father, that went on for SO long and – it was a good storyline – but it got more intense every single week. It was so full-on, it ran for about 18 months. Then straight after that it went on to Sonya and finding out that she was Callum’s mum so it was just too much!
It was a very long storyline that kept building and building so, emotionally, that’s quite draining. It’s pretty hard to turn up to work to have a nervous breakdown every day.
Do you have a particular happy or fond memory from the last 20 years on the show? What was one of your best storylines?
Probably the ‘House of Trousers’ stuff, we just ran amuck in there and tried to get away with as much stuff as we could…and the directors let us. We had loads of freedom.
We did things like punching holes in walls so we didn’t have to open doors and if there was a hole in the wall, then one of us had a ‘scene off,’ we’d pretend that was the hole into the toilet. So as they’re walking past through the scene, one of us would just put our hand out, the other would pick up a toilet roll, put it in their hand then come back in – crazy stuff like that. I loved all that playing around.
Tell us a bit about friends you’ve made on the way; who in particular do you like doing scenes with?
I love doing scenes with Patty Harvey, who plays Connor – he’s my favourite, as well as Eve and Jackie. When I see I have a script coming up with one of those guys, I look forward to it. When you’re acting with Eve or Jackie, you find yourself thinking ‘man, I need to lift my game.’
Do you think Toadie will ever completely settle down and be stable or do you think romance is just always going to come in ups and downs for him?
No, I think he’s stable now – he’s found his love with Sonya, they support each other, they argue like a real couple which is good, it’s realistic – and we love doing that too!
Do you think any of the changes Toadie has been through are an accurate representation of what the average guy goes through in life?
No! (laughs) well, the growing up aspect I guess; as you get older you start to take things more seriously and you have to settle down more. You buy the house and you meet the person and you have the kids. He’s done all that, it’s just the way he got there wasn’t so typical! In soap-fashion, it probably was normal…
Are there any storylines for the future that you’d love to see Toadie get involved in?
Maybe a good health scare would be good. I’d have a dabble in that. And maybe Toadie should run a Mr Whippy van, I think that’d be cool.
Is that so you get to eat lots of ice-cream?
Yeah. And perhaps he could get a pet monkey too.
Cool – would you like all three of those to be in the same episode or…?
It’d be a busy time but yeah, you’ve got to have light and shade! Or maybe a client of Toadie’s who’s a funeral director bequests him the business so he becomes a funeral director. The Mr Whippy van could be a service alongside that…you’ve got to have something for the kids, right?
I’m starting to realise why you’re not in the writing side and stick to the acting…
(Ryan laughs) I know for a fact some writers would jump on these storylines! When they read this article perhaps they’ll get to this bit and think ‘this is gold – we’re doing this!’
What do you think it is about Neighbours that got it to the 30 year mark?
We deal with big stuff but it’s still light; we don’t get bogged down in the big dramatic storylines. It’s got a good sense of comedy about it and doesn’t take itself too seriously. We also put together a really good product – it’s bright and happy and the sun shines.
What qualities do you think you need as an actor to work on a soap for so long?
Professionalism is the biggest one, humility and probably a good sense of how lucky you’ve got it. This job has afforded me a brilliant life and my family a brilliant life: I’m very, very lucky.
My dad was a plumber and often, when I’m having a moment of not wanting to do it any more, I go ‘well, I could have my hands in someone else’s pooh.’ If I do that, I’m only acting it and it’s only stunt pooh.
The Neighbours 30th anniversary is fast-approaching on March 18th on Channel 5, where you can see favourites such as Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Ian Smith and Anne Charleston (Harold and Madge Bishop!) return to our screens.