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'Neighbours' Alin Sumarwata talks Vanessa Villante plots - interview

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Vanessa Villante

© Channel 5

Neighbours' UK fans see newcomer Vanessa Villante remain at the centre of drama next week as her feelings for Rhys Lawson grow.

The pregnant chef has a clear attraction to Rhys (Ben Barber) and won't listen when her unborn baby's father Lucas tries to warn that the doctor is bad news.

However, just as Vanessa is ready to embark on a relationship with Rhys, she is stunned to witness him angrily ranting at Susan Kennedy for spending time with his mother Elaine at the hospital. Having seen Rhys's nasty side for herself, will Vanessa be deterred from pursuing a future with him?

In real life, actress Alin Sumarwata was cast as Vanessa late last year, moving to Melbourne from Sydney with her husband and their baby daughter for the role. Here, Alin chats to Digital Spy about her storyline.

After a few months filming at Neighbours, how have you settled in so far?
"Everything happened so quickly and it coincided with the move from Sydney - it was very chaotic at first and it did take a while. I felt I was coming to work, then dashing back to the baby between scenes - very full on! However, now I feel settled and I know what to expect."

Vanessa is already stirring up life in Ramsay Street thanks to her pregnancy. How did you feel about getting such a big storyline straight away?
"To be honest, I didn't realise in the beginning how significant it was and now I feel very lucky. What a great way to get people talking about a new character!"

We've obviously seen Vanessa for ourselves, but how do you describe her to people?
"She is impulsive, excitable and doesn't let much get her down and wears her heart on her sleeve."

How do you think the Neighbours fans are responding to Vanessa?
"I guess it is still early days, however I gather from Neighbours' digital department - who look after the website and social media - fans are really liking her, which is great considering she arrived with no back-story.

"I actually wouldn't blame fans for being suspicious of her - 'What are her motives?', 'Where did she come from?', etc. Maybe they are and that makes her interesting!"

Now that Lucas is being more supportive of Vanessa, how is she feeling about the pregnancy?
"She is definitely feeling more settled and confident. I think she understands Lucas better so they're not at odds as much."

Neighbours Opening Titles: Sophie, Vanessa & Rhys

© Channel 5

Neighbours Opening Titles: Lucas, Vanessa and Rhys

© Channel 5


How does Vanessa feel about Rhys? What can you tell us about their row next week?
"She has been quite torn and also not sure of his motives in these very unusual circumstances. She is definitely attracted to him but she is still guarded.

"When Vanessa sees Rhys shouting at Susan, it throws everything off for her - it really rocks the boat. She can't help thinking that she could be in that situation with him down the track. She is scared it forecasts something darker in the future.

"Later, Rhys tries to fix things by opening up to Vanessa and she is relieved - she wants to see the good side in him because there is that attraction."

Will the tension between Lucas and Rhys remain for quite some time?
"Definitely. These are two bulls who are not going to change!"

We've heard that Rhys and Vanessa will indeed be getting together despite the early problems. Do you think they'll make a strong pairing?
"They still have a major hurdle to cross - the baby! So they have a lot ahead of them. Also, intellectually I don't think they are on the same playing field. Their attitude toward some things may be similar, but they are in different lines of work. He is ambitious, whereas she is happy with her lot. I think it's too early to say how they will fare in the future."

Vanessa gives Rhys some baking tips.

© Channel 5

Lucas sees Vanessa and Rhys together.

© Channel 5



As a new character, there's a lot of scope for the writers to explore Vanessa's past. Do you know if there are any plans for this?
"Most definitely it is in the pipeline which will add a whole new dimension to Vanessa..."

How have you found settling into Melbourne after moving from Sydney?
"It's been so full on with the baby, moving and now Neighbours. I'm looking forward to our production breaks so I can see a bit more of Melbourne.

"We purposely moved close to the studio so I could manage work and also being close to the baby, so my life really is work, rush back home to the baby, then back to work - I actually miss Melbourne!"

Is it difficult to balance filming with your family commitments?
"You just do it. I'm not sure if it's easy or difficult because I honestly don't know any other way now. And I think if I focus on the difficult part of it, it will end up that way. I love both sides of my life so I'm making it work."

Is there anyone in particular who you've made friends with on the set?
"I couldn't single out any one person - everyone has been so wonderful and supportive. I think I'm very spoilt."

What else is ahead for Vanessa?
"There will definitely be more revealed about her background, which I think will surprise a lot of people on the street - some parts will be embraced, while other aspects will be questioned. And there is heartbreak of courseā€¦"

> Read the latest 'Neighbours' spoilers and news

Neighbours airs weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5 in the UK, and weekdays at 6.30pm on Eleven in Australia. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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