Stefan Dennis was fired from Neighbours
Stefan Dennis was once fired from 'Neighbours'.
The 57-year-old actor has spent the last three decades playing bad boy Paul Robinson on and off in the Australian soap but he has admitted bosses almost axed him from the programme because they thought they'd already taken his spiteful and conniving alter-ego as far as he could go.
Speaking exclusively to BANG Showbiz, Stefan said: "I was actually - for want of a better expression - fired from the show. Fired in the nicest possible way, it wasn't because I did anything bad. In fact, I always remember the two producers at the time, they brought me back for two weeks in 2004 - after I left in 1993 - to have a guest role for two weeks to reprise Paul for its twentieth anniversary. They said, 'Would you come back and do two weeks?' and I went 'Yeah' and they sort of put that in with what they've done and what I was doing so that it would work.
"But they liked it so much that they said, 'Would you make it three months?' and that became six months and then it just went on and on.
"What happened was after two years they'd written Paul as so Machiavellian that he actually became a bit of a caricature and became a bit unrealistic - even though 'Neighbours' does stretch the boundaries of reality.
"The producers called me in and said that this is the hardest thing they've ever done as producers but, 'We have to fire you for doing your job so well' and I went 'What do you mean?' and they said, 'Well it doesn't matter what we've thrown at you to portray as your character, you've done it and you've done it convincingly' and I went 'Well that's my job though' and they said 'We don't know what to do anymore we've just taken the character way too far' and they felt really bad and I said, 'Guys, don't worry, look on the bright side of this, I came back for two weeks and I've been here two years so you know it's a win win.' "
But, although producers had already told him they were dropping his character from the show, Stefan was thrilled when scriptwriters came up with an idea, which subsequently saw Paul mellow after battling with a brain tumour, to keep him on the Australian programme.
He explained: "Of course by that stage I had to pinch myself, I was a quite enjoying it and I thought that I was disappointed but I wasn't unrealistic about it and then I remember three days later, Rick, the technical producer, came running up to me as I arrived at the studio and he said, 'I've found a way to keep Paul' and then of course that was the brain tumour story and the rest is history."