Roo Stewart (Georgie Parker) may have put her rebellious past behind her, but long-term Home and Away fans will recall she was once a teenage tearaway and the show’s original bad girl.
In the very early days, the daughter of Summer Bay legend Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher) was played by Justine Clarke, who left in 1989 after just over a year. Parker took over when the character was re-introduced in 2010, and is actually friends with the actress who used to play her!
“Remember when I was blonde and brown-eyed?” laughs the star, speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com. “The funny thing is Justin lives near me in Sydney and we see each other all the time. We worked together before on a cop show called All Saints and we have mutual friends.
“Whenever we run into each other we take a selfie, then send it to Ray Meagher with a little message saying: ‘Here are your two daughters!’ The two Roos say hello, it’s hilarious!”
Roo’s initial incarnation was as a manipulative minx – she fell pregnant by her older lover aged 16, then passed the baby off as boyfriend Frank Morgan’s and convinced him to marry her.
Revealing at the altar the child was not his, Roo jilted Frank and her lies were exposed. Her antics made life hell for single dad Alf, who was struggling with the apparent loss of wife Martha, Roo’s mum, who drowned when his daughter was little.
Martha’s absence was the reason behind Roo’s bad behaviour, although years later it turned out she had faked her death and is now back in the Bay happily remarried to Alf, but that’s another story…
Interestingly, the baby Roo had back in the day – named after her ‘dead’ mother’ – was given up for adoption but later returned played by Jodi Anasta, now Neighbours’ Elly Conway.
Despite her friendship with Clarke, Parker insists they have never discussed the recasting of Roo, even though it was decades apart. “You know what, we never had the conversation,” she says. “I assumed she wouldn’t want to go back to something she started with as she has grown way beyond the character.”
Clarke has been acting since she was a child, and appeared opposite Mel Gibson and Tina Turner in 1985 blockbuster Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome where she also met future Home and Away and Neighbours star Rebekah Elmaloglou, who she is still close to. She remains well-known in her native Australia as a respected actress, presenter and musician.
“Her career has been interesting and fulfilling, Justine is a beautiful actress and a luminous performer. Having said that, wouldn’t it be great if she came back as my twin! That would be fun…!”