Always Greener: articles

Urban cowboy

It is official—Scott Major is no longer a bad boy. It is a role that must have been difficult for the 26-year-old actor to kick, his career weaned on a constant diet of rebellious teenagers and small-time thugs.

From his big break as troublemaker Darren Stark in Neighbours to his stint as the anti-authority figure Rivers in The Heartbreak Kid and TV spin-off Heartbreak High, Major knew bad boys.

Maybe it was his hair, often worn long and dishevelled with unruly sideburns, that fuelled the trend.

If so, his new short, combed and curly look may have helped him nab the role of farmer and all-round good bloke Tom Morgan in Always Greener.

Whatever it was that influenced producers, Major says he is grateful for the opportunity to star in the show, now in its second season.

"It was very much a leap and it was great for me to be considered for a role such as this when I haven't done them in the past," he says. "It was great of the producers to have that faith in me."

It could have been Majors' love for the character that swayed them. The reformed bad boy says he fell in love with the idea of playing Tom Morgan, a simple, honest and hard-working fellow from the country.

"I really liked the fact that he was a country boy, he wasn't a bad guy and he wasn't stupid," he says. "He's one of those guys where it's not what he says, it's what he doesn't say. He thinks things through. He doesn't just say just anything and open his mouth for the sake of it. It's a bit of a challenge being that honest and being able to see through most of the characters."

But playing an honest man was not the only challenge involved in the role. Majors is a confessed urban cowboy with little experience of rural life.

"I haven't actually farmed," he admits. "I've been out on properties before, but I'm a born and bred city boy. I do love the country, though. It's fantastic on location and talking to Edgar who owns the farm."

Majors is slowly building on his knowledge of country life through the show. He has learnt to build a fence and drive a tractor "and a few things like that".

This lack of farming experience gave Major a chance to flex his acting muscles, as his character Tom is probably the most countrified of the cast.

Tom Morgan entered the Always Greener scene when he formed a close friendship with Rob Todd. Rob later died beside him while fighting a bushfire—an incident which still haunts Tom.

After Rob's death, Tom stayed on the farm, helping Rob's widow Sandra and her two children manage the property. But the Todds soon decided to swap homes with their city dwelling relatives John and Liz.

The move left Tom redundant. Major says it forced Tom to question his place in the world.

"He's left with no one again," he says. "He doesn't quite know where he fits in any more."

For the moment, Tom is helping Jason Taylor get work fencing property, but Major says his character has many more challenges to face in upcoming episodes.

For one, Tom was adopted and does not know the identity of his birth parents. He seeks them out, with devastating consequences for both himself and someone well known to the Always Greener audience.

"It's not necessarily a happy one to play," Majors explains. "It's not all roses when Tom does find out."

Majors says he spent some time researching what it would be like to discover the identity of your birth parents at Tom's age and found the experience is often painful.

"I spoke to a few people who did find their birth parents and found it's a big step even if you know you're adopted and you don't know who your parents are," he says. "It's a big step because you don't know whether they're going to accept you or not. There's a lot of doubt."

Tom's discovery is compounded by another revelation—that his adoptive parents changed his name from Greg to Tom.

This, combined with Tom's secret love for Sandra Todd, makes him another possible suitor for Sandra who was told by a psychic she would meet and fall in love with a man named Greg.

So far she has met three Gregs—a plumber, her neighbour and her real estate colleague. Tom's revelation will no doubt add to her confusion.

Major admits that Tom has "more than a crush" on Sandra.

"He's in love with her," he explains. "It's not that he sits there and fantasises about her. The fact is that he has loved this woman from afar and to this point it has not been reciprocated. I think it would be a big thing to even tell her about that."

Major says Tom discovering his real name will not change that or anything else—he will have bigger issues on his mind.

These issues may be difficult for his character, but Majors is enjoying the challenge.

He says he was surprised "but not surprised in the same breath" that Always Greener was so immediately successful, attracting 2.06 million viewers nationally in its September 2001 debut.

The show also has been critically successful, and was recently nominated for a TV Week Logie in the category of Most Outstanding Drama Series. Michala Banas, who plays Marissa Taylor, is also up for a Logie for Most Popular New Female Talent.

The show will again face tough ratings competition this year—sandwiched between Nine's current affairs flagship 60 Minutes and Ten's second Big Brother series—but Major says the show should fare well.

"It's good for Australian television and it promotes a different quality of television which we need," he says. "And I'm loving playing someone who's not a bad boy."

Always Greener, Seven, Sunday, 7.30pm.

Jennifer Dudley
April 04, 2002
The Courier Mail