Ada Nicodemou’s character on Home and Away, Leah, is getting married again, this time to Zac MacGuire (Charlie Clausen). Photo: Channel Seven Despite playing Leah for 16 years, Ada Nicodemou has never got bored of the role. Photo: Channel Seven
Home and Away’s writers have ensured life is never easy for Leah. Here she collapses after driving in 2005. Photo: Supplied
Zac MacGuire (Charlie Clausen) marries Leah Patterson-Baker (Ada Nicodemou) in Home and Away’s finale. Photo: Channel Seven
At the wedding. Ada Nicodemou says she likes her character Leah’s “fabulous dress”. Photo: Channel Seven
There’s a hell of a cliffhanger this week on Home and Away, the most successful soap Australia has ever produced. A major character gets married, a major character gets murdered and nine other characters become murder suspects, as the series turns into a whodunit for the first few months of 2016.
The character getting married is no secret: it’s Leah Patterson-Baker, who has been played by Ada Nicodemou for the past 15 years. But is Leah also the murder victim? When I phoned Ada Nicodemou last week to ask that question, she was in her car driving to the studio to film an episode that will be shown in April of next year. That is kind of a giveaway, as she conceded.
So we can safely say she’s not the victim, although she might be a suspect. She would not reveal if the murdered character is her third husband, Zac MacGuire. What Nicodemou did reveal is that somebody gets drunk at the wedding after revealing that she was raped by a family member, and somebody else bursts into the ceremony and throws embarrassing accusations at numerous guests. Then the murder happens.
“It’s a crap wedding, really,” Nicodemou observed. “The only good thing is that Leah gets to wear a fabulous dress. I love wearing a nice frock. It all looks amazing. There’s fireworks as well.”
Over her time in Summer Bay, Leah has had multiple tortured relationships, including one with Vinnie Patterson, who got testicular cancer, recovered, fathered her son (known as VJ) and went to jail, where he supposedly died. Vinnie was played by Ryan Kwanten, who went on to star in True Blood in the US. He’s one of many young actors Nicodemou has met and mothered as they passed through Australia’s on-screen drama school on their way to glory (others include Chris Hemsworth, Isabel Lucas and Steve Peacocke).
Nicodemou hopes she taught them something. “The younger cast who haven’t done other stuff, or been trained, look at us to see how to behave,” she says. If we’re mucking around and are not being professional, that’s not teaching them anything. So I do take that responsibility seriously. I’m always being a bit of a mother, pulling people aside, going ‘Are you saving your money, are you going to buy a property, are you eating well, are you exercising?’ I was doing that even at 21.”
But why didn’t she head for Hollywood herself? “I have no interest. My family, my friends are here. I want to bring up my son here. I don’t want to bring up my son in America. I love what I do, but my life is more important than my career. I just want to be living in this country.”
Doesn’t she get frustrated by playing the same character for 16 years? “You go through moments of ooh, it would be nice to try something different, but I’m always challenged on the show,” she says “I’m always doing so much. I’m a working mother, so I’m juggling so many different balls at the moment. I’m trying to look after myself, my household, I’m pretty busy.”
In any case, the writers put Leah through so many changes, it’s almost like playing a different character every year: “I had a brain aneurism, I’ve had a miscarriage, my husband went to jail then went into witness protection, one of my boyfriends was in a coma and I fell in love with his brother, I had a stalker and then I had to leave town and I got massive anxiety.
“When you think about it, you do go ‘How is she not mad?’ How does she remain so positive? That’s what I love about Leah, what other people love about her: she’s just so bright and positive and always glass half-full, which is a really lovely quality.
“She’s had a hard life, so she’s not as naive as she once was. I always think of Leah as the moral compass of the show. I think the audience know how they feel about different characters or different storylines in how Leah reacts.”
So it’s a reasonable bet that this Thursday, Leah will not turn into a murderess. But with Home and Away, you never know.
The cliffhanger finale of Home and Away airs on Wednesday, December 9, at 7pm on Seven. It will be followed on Presto, Seven’s streaming service, by a An Eye for An Eye, a Home and Away spinoff miniseries.
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