In the wake of same sex marriage being legalised in the country last December, the couple make it down the aisle in a ceremony tipped to be one of the must-see soap moments of the year, but far from being a cynical cash-in on a topical event the boys’ big day was already in the works long before 61% of Australians voted in favour of the change.
“This was planned from the start,” reveals Takaya Honda, who plays David. “There was always going to be a wedding but after the vote it meant as a happy outcome it would be the first legal marriage on screen. Neighbours deserve that accolade, they’ve worked for years on Aaron and David’s story and had LGBT storylines other shows hadn’t done. It would’ve felt cheap if another show had stole their thunder and done it as a publicity stunt.”
Once plans for the legal nuptials were underway Neighbours producers pinned their rainbow flag to the mast with the casting of actress and high-profile LGBT rights campaigner Magda Szubanski in the guest role of the couple’s eccentric celebrant, Jemima Davies-Smythe – a nod to the movement that had worked so hard to change the law.
“Magda had been a spokesperson for same sex marriage in Australia for years and had dedicated a huge part of her life to the movement,” says Matt Wilson, aka fellow groom Aaron. “She thanked the show for doing this, and said when she watched Scott and Charlene get married 30 years ago the thought of having a gay wedding, legal or not, on Australian TV was unthinkable. Hearing her say that reminds you of the responsibility and Takaya and I took that seriously.
“We’re proud and privileged to be a part of this,” agrees Honda. “It’s a huge honour. But ultimately Matt and I want to just play the characters truthfully to make the audience root for them. The moment of the marriage itself is based in a realistic seriousness of the occasion, it’s given the weight it requires and deserves.”
The significance of the event had such an impact on the actors, Wilson admits to having genuine wedding jitters as he prepared to say his fictional vows. “Once the suits were on and people started to arrive at this amazing set the art department had done such a good job on, I was nervous! There was a real buzz shooting the scenes. Takaya joked about inviting our girlfriends to be extras at the wedding but it seemed so real I would’ve felt weird having my partner watch me marry someone else!”
“Matty and I had actual pre-wedding jitters,” agrees Honda. “Plus we had media on the day watching the scenes being filmed which is usually unheard of. It raised the stakes. The reality of the situation and the weight of the occasion for the show and the country was never far from our minds. You’re supposed to be nervous on your wedding day, right? So it helped our performance!”
Providing positive role models for the LGBT community is clearly an important factor in how Aaron and David’s love story has taken them to the altar, as Honda continues: “They are two gentle souls with a positive aura and an unbreakable bond. So many soap relationships are toxic but it’s nice to show one that’s healthy, it has ups and downs but ultimately comes back to love and trust.”
Having literally made history with their happy-ever-after, where do the pair go from here? Wilson has some thoughts… “Takaya and I have always said we’d love to explore Aaron and David having kids,” he grins. “That would be incredible and there’d be plenty to explore. I reckon Aaron would be the kind of dad that lets his kids get away with murder, the fun parent. And David would be the fun stealer! Although how would Aaron explain to his child that daddy used to be a stripper?!
“Now they’ve committed in this way it raises the stakes of their relationship, and the wedding doesn’t mean the end of the drama. In fact we have a lot of drama on the horizon that we’re filming right now. Aaron gets himself into a bit of trouble and David has to support him – there’s lots of forgiving going on…”
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