FORMER Brauer College student Ben Barber has made the move from Liebig Street to Ramsay Street.
The rising star joined the cast of long-running soap opera Neighbours earlier this year as young surgeon Rhys Lawson, a dream role for an up-and-coming actor.
“I catch myself and have a moment where I realise that I’m working with actors I watched on TV growing up,” Barber laughed.
Primary among those are show veterans Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne, who play Karl and Susan Kennedy.
“My first scenes were with Alan and Jackie,” Barber said.
“It was great to have them there to help out and show me how it’s done. I was in safe hands.”
The 27-year-old described his character as “very ambitious and very driven”.
“He doesn’t mind treading on a few toes. He’s not a villain or entirely a good guy.
“He rides that line and that’s a lot of fun to play. There are a lot of different dynamics. He can be very persuasive, bordering on manipulative, but he has a sensitive side as well, which is coming out gradually.”
Barber has seemingly appeared out of nowhere, with only a handful of Home & Away episodes to his credit prior to landing the Neighbours gig.
But the acting bug dates back to his time at Brauer, where he performed in the school’s annual musicals.
In Year 12, he starred in the college’s production of Fiddler On The Roof, but upon graduating he turned his back on acting.
“I stuck around (Warrnambool for a year) and joined the army reserve,” Barber explained. “I hadn’t really thought of (acting) as a career,” he said.
“Then I saw Fiddler On The Roof with Topel starring, and that was what inspired me …it brought back memories and I realised how much I missed acting and I was inspired to get back into acting.”
After a part-time acting course at the Victorian College of the Arts, Barber was accepted into NIDA, one of Australia’s top acting schools that boasts Mel Gibson, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Judy Davis, Baz Luhrmann and Sam Worthington among its graduates.
Barber misses Warrnambool, especially the beach, but says his busy work schedule limits time to come back and visit family.
“We shoot six episodes a week. You don’t have as much time with each scene as you’d like so you’ve got to hit it straight away and move on. It’s a terrific challenge for an actor.
“It’s five days a week and then you have to prepare for the next week so you find yourself going over lines on the weekend.”