John’s life has been turned upside down after he suffered a stroke in Home and Away and actor John Withington has confirmed that the pressure on this will mark the end of the line for his character’s relationship with Marilyn.
While Marilyn seems prepared to be a full time carer for John, his pride tells him that he can’t subject her to a life like this – which leads to a devastating decision.
The star told Metro.co.uk: ‘Marilyn offers to look after John and care for him and I suppose John wants in the beginning to think “Oh maybe she can, I’m not really sure if she does want to be here”.
‘And as they realise how incapacitated John is, John realises that she’s there out of a sense of duty. And he doesn’t want that, he’s too proud to have her there out of a sense of duty and he says “I know you don’t love me anymore, I know it’s over, I want you to go, I want my independence, I don’t want to see you like this.”
‘So quite nobly, he lets her go and it’s heart breaking stuff, beautifully written.
I’ve got to give a big tick to our writing team as they turn out a lot of drama and they still manage to work up scenes that make the crew cry.
‘I think it’s time for new things and new horizons. That’s the nature of the beast with soap opera – couples meet, fall in love, get married, have a great time and then they get divorce! Looking back over my career, I’ve had 12 wives, so we will see what that happens but it’d be nice to expand the characters to different horizons.’
And John couldn’t be prouder of the show for tackling the subject of living with the aftermath of a stroke and he spoke to us about the challenges of playing it accurately.
He explained: ‘I did so much research – more than I have done for any other part I’ve played. I really was assisted by our nurses and our medical advisors. As far as the stroke goes, we actually had a member of our crew, who had had a stroke and returned to work, and he was invaluable to say, that’s right, that’s not right. We are really supported by our medical teams at Home and Away.
‘It was also hard for me as he (the crew member) was watching, he watched me “have a stroke” and go through the horror of waking up in the bed and then saying to my wife “you can leave me”, so it was difficult for him to watch too because it brought back all the memories of what happened to him as you thin those things and you go there.
‘It’s difficult as you don’t want to do too much, and you don’t want to do too little. You’ve got to pick a very fine line with stuff like that and that is the actor’s job. But it’s also physically draining and exhausting as that amount of energy that you need to put out. At the end of the day after all that emotional stuff I do feel drained and really exhausted.
‘In fact I crashed a car once after a 12 hour day of big emotional stuff! As I backed out of the car park in the studio I heard a crunch and thought what’s that? Oh no! I had gone straight into the make-up man’s car!’
Shane confirmed that while John’s condition isn’t permanent, he now faces an arduous. He added: ‘It’s wonderful that Home and Away time and time and time again tackle some very big issues, and there’ll be a lot of people out there whose lives are affected by stroke, who I think will be really pleased to see it being represented and portrayed so their friends can see what they go through, and not just for stroke victims but also for carers.
‘The caring is really hard, stroke victims can get angry, and have emotional changes. It was a big thing to tackle and I’m really glad Home and Away have tackled it.’
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