Luke Van Os is carrying on a family heritage as the newly arrival paramedic Xander on Home and Away.
Is it a huge deal for you to be at Summer Bay? Home and Away is an Australian institution – is it a big deal for you to be there?
Yes, I believe it is enormous. Growing up, I was always watching Home and Away on TV. We always watched when Chris (Luke’s cousin) appeared on the show since it was such a big deal. It’s incredible to be able to go through the same thing myself. I’m pinching myself even now.
Since you’ve brought up the Hemsworth question, let’s get right to it: have you ever received any guidance or tips from the man himself?
Without a doubt. I think the most important things have been to keep working hard and to enjoy it. I can be so hard on myself that I forget to enjoy the moment, and it’s been such a long journey to get here… the show is a lot of fun, you know, just by nature. We work so close together to build that rapport, there’s a lot of banter that goes on.
That’s great to hear, because a show like H&A, with four episodes a week, necessitates a lot of labour. Everything’s nice to know you’ll be able to experience it all at once.
Absolutely. Half of my time is spent on the beach talking a few things, and the other half is spent at the studios I grew up watching, the diner, and so on. As an actor, it’s a lot of fun, and the crew works more harder than I do – they’re the ones that show up an hour before I do and stay an hour after I leave, so they’re the ones who have to put in the long hours. I simply have a good time and enjoy myself.
Has the recent weather in Sydney make shooting more difficult? There haven’t been many days that are beach-worthy.
It has added some challenges, but we are able to work around them. The scheduling crew works ahead, and we’ll film in the studio if the weather is really terrible. Then, if it’s going to rain on and off, we’ll work around it by jumping out and filming when the rain stops, then stopping and waiting when it starts raining again. We manage to make it work.
Were you a little bit astonished, a little bit starstruck, when you first got the job and landed on set? There’s Alf, there’s Marilyn… I realise your relative is Thor, so you might have been better prepared, but still.
I was incredibly jittery. My first scene on my first day was with Lynne (McGranger), and I was – and still am – as scared to perform with those men as I was on my first day. But they’re very nice and supportive, and they go out of their way to make you feel at ease and to encourage you to do your best.
What were you doing before you walked into Summer Bay?
I was waiting in Melbourne lockdown just before this, hoping to find job somewhere. For the previous eight or nine years, I’d been auditioning and studying acting, but I was also working in restaurants and hotels to make ends meet. And as a result, I was able to work nights so that I could attend auditions during the day.
Xander, how would you describe your character?
He’s a kind man. Overall, I believe he has excellent intentions. He’s a paramedic, so he’s a natural caregiver, which is a great opportunity for me to play a first responder because I get to do all the action while also learning whatever medical process is involved.
In Home and Away, there is usually quite a bit of action. Always an emergency, always a situation that need the assistance of a paramedic. As a result, you should be quite busy.
It’s great, and I get to do things I’d never get to do in the real world, so it’s fantastic. We have Sarah, the medical adviser, who goes over everything in great detail, so we’re ready to make it look as real as possible.
So it’s a little bit of an education and a little bit of multitasking for you.
Without a doubt. There’s a lot to learn, and it’ll take some time to get my lips around all the medical terms. It’s not something I’m used to.
I suppose there’s some pressure because, unlike the other cast members, professionals will be watching the show and judging you on how convincing you are. Which isn’t always the case when you’re running a diner.
There’s definitely some of it in there, but I just think it’s cool to be able to do it. And Sarah does an excellent job of preparing us – she’s on set anytime we’re on set, so if you’re doing or saying something incorrectly, she’ll be there to help.
Home and Away airs Monday through Thursday at 7 p.m. on Seven.