TV show 800 Words has such a solid narrative spine, the work feels far from backbreaking, according to actor Rick Donald who has returned for the family drama’s third season.
Donald plays Woody, a laid-back Aussie surfer and the right-hand man to Erik Thomson’s character George Turner, with whom he’s formed an indelible bond on and off the small screen.
“We have a really good rapport now, I think he knows what I’m going to do before I even do it,” Donald said.
“We always try to find a way to make a scene a little bit funnier or if we’re having an argument, make it a bit harsher or put a little more of a dig in.”
The cast spend seven months of each year living on set in New Zealand, a tradition that began in 2015 for season one of the Logie-nominated series.
“It’s just like going back to a second home,” Donald said.
“It’s so beautiful over there, we’re pretty spoilt with the locations that we shoot in, it makes going to work pretty fun.”
In the fictional coastal town of Weld, newspaper columnist and widower George (Thomson) relocates from Sydney with his children Shay (Melina Vidler) and Arlo (Benson Jack Anthony).
Enter Woody, the comedy to their tragedy.
“He’s incredibly gullible and he’s just an extreme lover of life. If he’s got his surfboard and food in his stomach, that’s all he needs,” Donald said.
“I know a lot of people kind of like Woody – the type of guy that will just walk into your house, grab a beer from the fridge and put his feet up and get away with it.”
This year, however, marks a dramatic shift in Woody’s narrative arc.
He shocked audiences in episode two when he revealed to George he can’t wed his fiancee Tracey (Emma Leonard) because he’s already married.
“There’s a lot more baggage that we understand now. If you see any of the other two seasons, Woody’s just kind of a funny goofball but this time we get to see a bit of his heart.”
* 800 Words, Seven Network, Tuesday 8.45pm