For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to ‘Neighbours’ star Matt Wilson.
Better known to soap fans as Aaron Brennan, Matt has been residing on Ramsay Street since 2015.
Here, the actor opens up about the difficulties in growing a thick skin, explains how death keeps him grounded and why he’s learned to be selfish.
What do you do to switch off from the world?
I love to do anything active like hiking, running, swimming and yoga. Going on a road trip is great, too.
How do you deal with any negativity that comes your way?
Thick skin is a prerequisite for any actor or person in the public eye. It’s taken me a while to understand the importance of conflicting opinions. Initially, an opinion that challenges yours will look like negativity until you understand where it’s coming from. Without an open mind, someone’s ‘opinion’ will destroy you mentally.
The key for me, is to see negativity as a chance to understand your audience. The more you understand your audience, the better you can communicate with them.
When and where are you at your happiest?
I couldn’t imagine anything better than being in the Australian outback camping with family.
My nieces and nephews are the world to me - I learn a lot from them. They don’t have emotional walls up, yet at such a young age, they are fearless. When my seven-year-old nephew is telling me his theory on his world, that’s when I’m the happiest.
What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I was working for my best mate’s father who one day simply said; you can do anything. For some reason, it stuck. Not long after I had a career shift that changed my life as I knew it. The building site became a film set for me.
We are raised believing that it’s best to ‘leave it to the professionals’. I grew up on a small farm where you had to have a crack at everything because hiring a professional for everything just wasn’t practical. I learned to fix an engine, build a shed, castrate goats and alter my own clothes.
That ‘can do’ attitude carried over into my working life.
What’s been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
To be selfish - in the least narcissistic way possible.
I think I grew up with the image of Pleasantville in my head. The place where everyone is happy, trust worthy and tragedy doesn’t exist. The place where everyone prioritises your interests as much as their own. I’ve learned to stand by my decisions, in every aspect of my life.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Trust yourself, be yourself, learn how to use money and don’t do anything in excess. I’d also say that enthusiasm is contagious and you should be curious about everything, and that knowledge is cool.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
I want to plan the next adventure and also book flights to see the family. I also need to work on an American accent.
What do you think happens when we die?
I’m not married to any one theory - they all have merit.
I like the idea of reincarnation. I read somewhere that a sheep was cremated and mixed through the soil of a newly planted tree. When that tree grew, they tested the leaves and found DNA from the sheep. I like that.
When have you felt in the presence of something larger than ourselves?
Mother Nature gets me every time. Travelling around Australia, I went to some incredible places that challenged my perception of life as I knew it.
I was at Kings Canyon in the Australian desert standing on what was once the bottom of the ocean 400+million years ago. It’s riddled with fossils that hint of a land before time.
Humans aren’t even a blink on the timeline of our planet. And just like every other species, she will move us on at some point. It makes me question the meaning of life.
What keeps you grounded?
It sounds grim, but reminding myself that we all end up six feet under. Whether you’re Warren Buffett or living on the street, we all face the same destiny. I am no better than the person next to me.
What do you bring to your relationships?
Optimism, enthusiasm, trust, an open mind and a buzz for life.
What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
I flew home from an overseas trip and walking out of the airport my good friend Brent was standing there dressed up in green and gold, holding a sign above his head saying “Welcome home Matty”.
No one’s ever done that for me before. It actually made me a little emotional. It’s one of those small things that hits the right heart strings. I implore you to do it for someone you love. They’ll remember it forever!
Catch Matt Wilson in ‘Neighbours’, weekdays at 1.45pm and 5.30pm on Channel 5.