Halfway into talking with Home And Away visitor Ethan Browne, he’s left stumped by a question. TV WEEK met up with the on-set star about his thrilling arrival in Summer Bay. His son, Tane Parata, has been seen by viewers, briefly in the past few weeks. Now, it’s about trying to smash through the area-in more ways than one. Ethan takes a second to think when asked how close he is to his alter ego. The answer then rolls off his tongue, also taking him by surprise.
Home And Away newcomer Ethan Browne plays Tane Parata. (Image: Supplied)
“What do you know? Honestly, we are really close! I’m pretty cheeky like him but more cautious,” he says with a wide smile. “But we are all family-oriented guys, and love our siblings ‘ company.” Growing up in a small town on New Zealand’s east coast, the star sharpened his skills alongside his brother and four sisters. He was playing literally in the backyard at the time, but it was the first step into professional acting. “My brothers and I used to make short films, whether it was something that we saw on tv or pretending to be battle scenes, so I’d always enjoyed it,” he says. “We’re all best mates. We have our bad times, of course, but we love to have a laugh and hang out.”
However, life got in the way of his childhood dreams and after graduating high school, Ethan opted to move on a different path. He practiced Civil Engineering, transferring to Brisbane. And at the back of his head, something niggled. The “unattainable fantasy,” if he wanted it to be, might be a reality. “I haven’t really tried acting, but it stuck in my head,” he says. “I really had to take a gamble to try something. I wanted to take some acting lessons that took me to NIDA.” His change in direction carried him not just to NIDA in Sydney but also to the Channel Seven studios where he auditioned for Tane’s part. He soon got the job and soon graduated.
The first taste of success came when Ethan began shooting at north Sydney’s Palm Beach. “The tourist buses came by when I was first walked on to the beach and didn’t know who I was and I saw how they responded to other cast members,” he says. “But after a few months of filming, people began calling me and posing for pictures. It’s a good experience, but it’s hard to get used to it.” The other day a guy was wearing a’ Blood And Sand ‘ tee [the tattoo sported by the River Boys in Home And Away], who knew who I was immediate. Outside there are some major supporters.
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Though it is impossible not to compare the people in the Parata family— played by Ethan, Rob Kipa-Williams, and Kawakawa Fox-Reo — to the famous Braxton brothers, Ethan is just happy to have his countrymen beside him exploring new territories. “I’m glad to have come in with other guys; we’re feeling like family,” he says. “There is also a common connection. Culturally, we both come from the same context and we all appreciate the humor of each other.” We’re trying to keep our character genuine and making it real for audiences back in New Zealand because they’re seeing their [Maori] culture on the screen–particularly comedy. We have our own version of that, and we’re trying to bring it into the story.
Being a hunky character, getting his shirt off once in a while is par for course. Ethan says he finds it easy to shoot shirtless scenes–given the publicity he gets from female fans. “If I am on the sand it makes sense,” he says. “If I can justify why I’ve taken my top off, that’s great,” he says. “My wife and I have been together for 10 years so we thought about it quite a bit. She’s cool with it [female attention] so we know there’s nothing going to change, and it’s cool.” At the end of the day, I’ll always be me; that’s all I can do