Mavournee Hazel, who plays headstrong Piper Willis in Neighbours, talks love triangles, healthy living and why she’s so excited about coming to Britain…
Twenty-year old Mavournee Hazel joined Neighbours a year ago as feisty, free-spirit, Piper Willis, daughter of Brad and Terese. Since then her character has been in the thick of the Ramsay Street action after embarking on a relationship with mechanic Tyler, much to her parents disapproval.
This week Piper sparks a massive family fall-out when she decides to take revenge after discovering Tyler has secretly hooked up with her half-sister Paige!
What's on TV chatted to Mavournee, who lives in Melbourne, by phone.
Things are very rocky for Tyler and Piper right now, but when she discovers her half-sister Paige has slept with Tyler behind her back, she's furious. What does she do? “She finds CCTV footage of the pair of them having sex in the garage and decides to share it with everyone at a family gathering! Brad and Terese are having a divorce party and Piper rigs up a PowerPoint presentation, does a little speech about how great the Willis clan is and how Piper is a part of that, then presses play!”
OMG! What’s the fallout? “Massive! Everyone’s totally shocked. She did it as payback to Tyler and Paige but she didn’t really take into consideration her parents’ and Jack’s feelings. Poor Jack – Piper wasn’t even expecting him to be at the party. He’s absolutely heartbroken seeing what Paige has done.”
What do Brad and Terese do? “They come out with the classic line, ‘We’re not angry with you, we’re just really disappointed.’ Piper’s all alone. It makes her reflect on things, she apologises to Jack and they have a bit of a heart to heart.
And what about Tyler? Is Piper really in love with Tyler or is it an infatuation? “She’s totally in love with him. Their relationship has come out of friendship and is hard to put into words. Piper’s an intelligent girl who acts on her gut feelings and instincts, sometimes for the bad sometimes for the good! Her and Tyler just click. There’s this unspoken attraction and chemistry between them and it just feels right. Tyler has been there for her every step of the way.”
And what’s it like working with Travis, who plays Tyler? “Great! I love working with Trav, we don’t have to think about things too much, it’s instinctive and easy. We’ve just done a night shoot filming a very emotional scene. When Trav starts crying, I start crying – we’re very much in tune which each other. We have a great relationship in and out of work and I consider him a really good friend.”
Who else are you friends with from the cast? “Ari (Ariel Kaplan) and Harley (Harley Bonner) who played Josh and Imogen. They were the first people I worked with when I started. I love them both. Ari’s coming over to the UK soon for about four months and I’m going to visit her.”
Have you been to the UK before? “No and I’m so excited. I’m going to be staying in Shoreditch in east London and I can’t wait! I love British TV and the British sense of humour. I’ve grown up watching Open All Hours, Keeping Up Appearances, The IT Crowd and Black Books. If it’s a TV show made in the UK you know it’s bound to be good!”
You’ve got a very turbulent love life on screen, are you dating in real life? “No, I’m single. I’m like Bridget Jones, I’m one cat away from being a spinster! To be honest, I think I’m too selfish at this point in my life. I’m not sure it would be fair to rope someone in when I’m working 12 hour days especially as I’m not the nicest person after a long day.”
Which actors inspire you? "Ezra Miller! He’s my everything, my muse! I first saw him when I was about 15 in We Need To Talk About Kevin and then The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. Watching him literally changed my style of acting. I’ve watched everything he’s done. He’s going to be The Flash in the new Marvel series."
You’ve been in Neighbours a year now. What was it like when you first got the part? "I was living in Sydney and was the cliché of an out of work actor, but I had a gut feeling about Neighbours. I grew up watching it and my grandma, Kaylene, has watched it right from the start. When I got the first audition I quizzed her to get the background info on all the characters!"
Your family must be really proud... "Yes, especially my gran! She’s always asking what the characters are going to be up to next and every now and then I can give her a cheeky spoiler which is really exciting for her.
"It’s a lovely place to work and everyone is so welcoming. We really are like a big family. After watching it for so many years I felt like I knew everyone especially Susan and Karl – it took a while for me to call Alan, Alan and not Karl!"
How do you stay fit and healthy? "When I moved out of home I was terrified of cooking meat. I was sure I was going to kill myself by under-cooking it! I quickly discovered it’s a lot cheaper to be a veggo anyway and live off lentils and beans. Then when I met Ari at Neighbours, she’s like some kind of veggy activist! Her lifestyle is so healthy, she goes to the gym, she made me want to be a better woman. There are so many great veggie places to eat in Melbourne and I’m looking forward to trying some out in the UK too. I’m a big fan of British blogger Niomi Smart. I watch her on YouTube."
What's your favourite veggie meal to rustle up? "There’s a really great salad I like making which is shredded vegetables and pumpkin seeds with a sauce made from peanut butter, some apple cider vinegar, a dash of maple syrup and lemon juice. You whizz it all up together, pour it over the shredded vegetables and then add avocado, or coriander to the top. Delicious!"
Watch Neighbours weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.45pm and 5.30pm
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Tess is a senior writer for What’s On TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite and WhattoWatch.com She's been writing about TV for over 25 years and worked on some of the UK’s biggest and best-selling publications including the Daily Mirror where she was assistant editor on the weekend TV magazine, The Look, and Closer magazine where she was TV editor. She has freelanced for a whole range of websites and publications including We Love TV, The Sun’s TV Mag, Woman, Woman’s Own, Fabulous, Good Living, Prima and Woman and Home.
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