Ever since he was one half of the on and off screen couple that led to Neighbours experiencing their highest ever ratings with the wedding of Scott and Charlene, Jason Donovan’s tumultuous private life has somewhat overshadowed his career.
From the infamous outing campaign that led him to sue The Face magazine and inadvertently destroy his public image, to his well-documented struggle with drugs, Jason’s name was synonymous with scandal - and the press couldn’t get enough of it.
It wasn’t until his daughter was born in 2000 that he managed to kick the habit and return to our screens, but the real turning point for his comeback came in the unlikely form of the reality show I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out Here! in 2007 which saw him finish in 3rd place and win back public support.
“I think the public like people who come back after adverse situations and we see that in all sorts of walks of life. It shows an inner strength when you get low and bounce back and I would argue that I’ve certainly been able to do that.”
He returned to the stage with a camper-than-ever role in 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' and took a break in May after having performed in 440 shows in 18 months.
Having won over critics in the flamboyant role, he’s breaking away from type and playing the lead in Jeff Wayne’s musical version of 'War of the Worlds'.
Full of special effects and CGI animation, the show is an adaptation of the H.G.Wells’ novel and will tour the UK from 2 December, also starring Atomic Kitten’s Liz McClarnon and X-Factor's Rhydian.
He’s not only excited about the role but also about becoming a father for the third time, with the baby due in March. He has spoken before about how the birth of his first child led him to overcome his addictions after a series of drug-induced seizures. The most famous of which took place at Kate Moss's 21st birthday party at The Viper Room in Los Angeles - the same venue that River Phoenix had died at of a drug overdose in 1993.
“Unfortunately, in the public sphere the microscope tends to analyse everything you do. When people have good years and bad years, some people can do it privately. You’ve just got to not listen to what people think too much and go by what you think is right and wrong.”
Last month Jason revisited his eighties pop roots with a new album ‘Soundtrack to the 80s’, and he’ll be taking part in the 80s 'Here and Now' tour in 2011, alongside Boy George and Belinda Carlisle.
His name will always be linked to the era and the Australian soap that made him famous. 'Neighbours' celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and although Jason revealed that he was asked to return, he refused due to work commitments - and Kylie chose not to head back to Ramsey Street either.
“I played it the way I wanted to play it with Kylie so I don’t have any regrets. I haven’t seen her in a while.”
He’s understandably guarded when it comes to discussion of Kylie as their relationship garnered an unprecedented amount of attention at the time, placing mounting pressure on the two in their first serious relationship as teenagers. There is, however, evident gratitude on his part for opportunities that the show and subsequent pop career opened up for him and understands the press invasion:
“You don’t go into this business to be too private, it’s only ironic when you become famous and rebel against it. There are a lot more people vying for spots than there ever was. There’s a lot more intrusion, you’ve got youtube, mobile camera phones...If you enter into the public eye you have to understand the responsibilities and the pluses and the minuses. I’m pretty honest, so there’s not a lot for me to hide.”
His honesty regarding the stage of his life which was clouded by drug-use has certainly warmed the public to him, and while he’s more than aware that this is a part of his life that it’s natural to be intrigued about, he also aims to break away from the image:
“When you move away from that world you have to reinvent yourself.”
Rather than reinventing himself, I’d argue he’s gone full circle and successfully reintroduced the charismatic stage actor that endeared the British public to Jason Donovan in his lead role in 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' all those years ago.
War of the Worlds will tour in the UK from 2 December until 18 DecemberReuse content