Aspiring actors can only dream of the type of longevity he’s enjoyed. So what exactly is the key to his success?
As the man everyone knows and adores as the legendary Alf Stewart character from Home and Away, actor Ray Meagher is a legend and a stalwart of Australian television.
Despite the fact that Meagher has been a part of the program from the beginning, his resume dates all the way back to early 1970s legendary movies and TV episodes.
His popularity has once again been recognized by a Silver Logie nomination for Most Popular Actor this year.
His longevity is something that aspiring performers can only hope for, but what is the secret to his success?
When the adored industry veteran is asked a question, his distinct brand of self-deprecating humor immediately comes through.
“Oh, look, I think it’s all accidental,” he laughs.
“I fell into this profession because I wasn’t qualified to do anything else and along the way it’s just been a bit of common sense, really.
“People employ you to do a job, and in the early days it’s something that you’re not overly confident with or familiar with.
“So if you get the basic things right, like turning up on time and knowing your lines, that’s a good start, and hopefully you get better at it as time goes on.
“Other than that, I think it’s about learning as much as you can about the job while you’re doing it.
“Even if you’ve come out of acting school, which I didn’t, often you might know the theory but you haven’t had the practical experience.
“In a show like ours, you get to practise every day.”
Since Alf Stewart has become such a well-known figure in Australian popular culture, most people will recognize him just by hearing you say “Stone the flamin’ crows!” or “Strewth!” in a particularly thick Australian accent.
Alf is a sarcastic, down-to-earth character, and Ray Meagher enjoys playing him.
He can be a cranky, gruff sort of guy at times, but if he makes a mistake, he will accept it. Ray jokes, “Don’t make a cup of tea or go to the bathroom, though; you might miss the apology.
You won’t hear it twice, and it typically happens very quickly.
“Having said that, he’s incredibly loyal to people, he’s the type of bloke you can trust in any given situation, and he grew up in the Bay.
“His family’s from the Bay, so he’s got the place at heart, and he’ll always try and do what he thinks is best for the community.”
And speaking of community, Ray believes it’s part of what people continue to find so appealing about the show.
“Look, I think we’ve got a few things going for us,” Ray explains.
“The first being, and this is pretty obvious, but it’s the location.
“Palm Beach is as beautiful a location as you’d find anywhere in the world.
“When some of us have been fortunate enough to take a short trip away, you might go, ‘Ooh, aah,’ at the vistas in other nations. Then, when we return to our “office,” you might think, ‘My goodness, what are we oohing and aahing at, here is just as lovely!’
“It has a beautiful appearance.
Speaking of that, the majority of our cast is also.
That self-deprecating side of him laughs, “Unfortunately, that’s not the box I tick.”
Ray also appreciates how the program serves as a showcase for up-and-coming performers, some of whom stay with the program for years while others leave for the bright lights of other major cities.
The show never becomes boring for viewers because of the constant entrance and departure of cast members and characters over the years.
Then again, there are players who maintain a sense of continuity when new faces appear and disappear, such as Ray, Ada Nicodemou, Georgie Parker, and Emily Symons.
He chuckles, even though he is actually 79 years old. “So, combined with the new faces, you’ve got the 94-year-olds like me,” he says.
“We serve as a recognizable backdrop to all of that, so when someone switches on the program at night, they hear one of the classic songs and think, ‘Oh yeah, I’m on the right channel!’ and continue to watch.
And it’s crucial to me that Alf responds in a manner that is consistent with how he always responds in a certain situation.
“I work so hard to protect that about him and to do that.
“The character shouldn’t move around randomly only for a quick laugh or for me to scratch my acting itch.
Alf is a guy that is straightforward and consistent, and I hope that gives people confidence in him.
Although Ray has been a part of Home and Away since its inception in 1988, it is by no means his only acting career.
He had significant roles in ground-breaking Australian movies including The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Newsfront (1978), Breaker Morant (1980), and iconic TV shows like Cop Shop, Prisoner, and A Country Practice long before Summer Bay.
But when questioned about one of his favorite professional accomplishments, he offers a startling response.
“Doing Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in the West End in London was pretty special,” he says.
“I did two spells there; the producer told me, ‘Well, you’ve been here for a while now, surely we can accommodate that,’ after I’d been on Home and Away for a while.
To perform in a West End musical is “for a bloke from the Queensland bush who can’t sing or dance?
It truly suited my twisted sense of humor.
How to vote for Ray Meagher at the Logies
Nominated for: TV WEEK SILVER LOGIE for Most Popular Actor
Voting is now open for all popular awards categories and remains open until the end of the red carpet telecast at 7.30pm AEST on Sunday July 30.
There is one exception, however – the coveted TV WEEK Gold Logie Award, which, for the first time, will stay open throughout the telecast and close at 10.30pm AEST.
You can vote now for your favourites from the shortlisted nominees at
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