Jackson Gallagher spills on a Home & Away return as Josh Barrett

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EXCLUSIVE: Jackson Gallagher spills on his Neighbours debut, a Home And Away return, and his best role yet – fatherhood

Life in locked-down Melbourne has had its problems for Jackson Gallagher. But the actor, spending time with his son, doing things like crafting and painting, has found a positive side to the many months spent at home.

I usually spend a lot of time traveling, “he says,” for work. “In truth, it was very lovely just to do a lot of daddy time.”
Jackson, who starred in Playing For Keeps most recently, is about to go back to our screens for a guest appearance in Neighbours. With the Canning family, his character, Nathan “Packo” Packard, has a past.

Jackson explains, “He was a wayward youth.” “When they were adolescents, Kyle Canning (Chris Milligan) and Packo raced in similar circles.”
To help treat the family tragedy surrounding Levi (Richie Morris), Kyle asks Packo to come to Erinsborough. Does Packo. But then Bea (Bonnie Anderson) runs into him.
“Fly Sparks,” says Jackson. “And then comes the triangle of lust, because Bea and Levi are on and off again.”

But COVID’s set constraints made shooting romantic scenes difficult.
Jackson says, “It is difficult to come in and play a romantic interest but have no physical interaction between the characters.”
“How do you establish with this person a sense of attraction and intimacy without touching them? It really comes down to long, intense gazing.”

There was an extra complication with Bonnie. When there was a COVID outbreak among the show’s crew, the actress, who was secretly wowing viewers as Bushranger on The Masked Singer, had to spend two weeks self-isolating.
It made it interesting, “adds Jackson.” “Our scenes became FaceTime scenes via the phone during that period.”
He says it’s “very amazing” the changes that Neighbours have made so it can keep filming in Melbourne.
“The show just keeps going. It can not be stopped except by a pandemic.”

Jackson’s first TV role was in The Saddle Club, but the role he’s probably best known for is Josh Barrett in Home And Away. He has nothing but good memories of the show and has remained close with many of the cast, four years after leaving.
“My friendship with Philippa Northeast [who played his love interest Evie] came out of Home And Away and she’s still one of my closest friends today.”
Although Josh ended up being sentenced to jail for murder, Jackson is open to the idea of returning to Summer Bay one day.
“I like to work,” he says. “If it lined up at the right time and it made sense, why not?”
Jackson was already in his twenties when he started playing the teenage Josh.
“I think it would be quite challenging as a 17 or 18-year-old to get thrust into that world,” he says.
“When I think back on that time I am very grateful that I was a little bit older, I’d been at university, had lived overseas, I had a really supportive partner at the time and family around me to keep a good grasp of reality.”
Still, Jackson found that there weren’t many other fathers in his social circle when he became a dad.
“When I went through those early years, I was like, ‘Wow, okay, where am I going to find the groups of dads, the other men going through this, talking about it, apart from my own father?'”
“There was a yearning in my life for other fathers, young fathers.”
Jackson, being both a photographer and an actor, began taking photographs of other fathers with their kids. He recently fired Charlie Clausen and Tom Wren as actors.
“Sharing with other guys, photographing dads with their children, and then talking about their fatherhood experience is really a beautiful experience. I’m quite fortunate I’ve been doing that.”
Jackson, now 30, claims he’s been affected by parenthood,’ in a great way.’
“It’s a part of my life that I have a lot of love for, a very wild and enriching part of it.”

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