Xavier reveals that he was thrown at the deep end in his new role – quickly filming raunchy scenes with the show’s big-name guest star Mischa Barton, of US teen drama The O.C. fame.
Xavier describes the love scenes between Byron and Mischa’s character Reece as “hot and heavy”. So much so that he’s a little wary of watching them with his mum!
“My mum might kill me if I don't watch my first episode with her,” says Xavier. “But it'll be interesting, because my character gets straight into a bit of raunchy stuff. I’m like, ‘Mum, I'm doing the acting thing!’ and she’ll be like, ‘It’s just soft porn!’”
Viewers were first introduced to Byron towards the end of the previous run of Neighbours, when he was working as an escort, much to mum Jane’s disapproval. Xavier reveals that the leopard hasn’t changed his spots this time around.
“He’s working at Lassiters and he’s 24-hour room service,” he laughs. “He’s up to some old tricks. He is trying to shake it and put roots down, but old habits die hard! Mrs Mangel will be rolling in her grave!”
It was second-time lucky for Xavier when he landed the role of Byron, having previously auditioned for the same part during the last run of the series.
“I came second to Joe Klocek back then, so it was a big moment for me to get the part this time,” he says. “It was just one of those moments where you go, ‘Maybe somebody's looking after me, after all!'"
Xavier, who appeared in the Oz version of Big Brother back in 2020, had previously been working as a paramedic while trying to build his acting career. However, he was travelling in Canada when the Neighbours call came.
“I had been banging my head up against the wall, trying to do the acting thing,” he says. “I quit as a paramedic after Covid. I was supposed to be travelling all this year, and then I got a call from my agent about the role. I was like,’ I'm travelling, I can’t!’ and my agent is like, ‘Xavier, get your head out your a**!’”
“I cried when I got the role. The show was huge for us growing up. I loved the show back when Margot Robbie as Donna was on it.”
When we meet Xavier, he’ll be living with returning character Mackenzie (Georgie Stone) as well as newcomer Haz – and Xavier was pleased to be starting at the same time as fellow newcomer Shiv Palekar.
“I remember on the first day when we rocked up,” he says. “Everybody came in and they were so happy to see each other. It was like a first day at school where we were the newcomers. We stood at the back to let them have their hugs and they were probably just looking at us, like, ‘What are these temps doing here?’. We had to be introduced but everyone was really welcoming.”
“Storyline-wise, Byron is working at Lasssiters and comes across Mischa’s character. They have their own little romance, which they try to keep to themselves, but they get sucked into the Ramsay Street chaos!"
“Paul Robinson obviously has a part to play, as he always does in everybody's story! They come up against the great Paul Robinson! But I can’t tell you if they win!”
Xavier reveals that working with Mischa was a joy, despite being thrown together in intimate scenes pretty quickly.
“We both came into this as actors coming into Neighbours, trying to find our feet, and find our character – so a lot of the time we were leaning on each other to get through the days,” he says.
“We had a lot of scenes with just the two of us, so we didn't have some of the older cast members to ask questions. For a green actor like myself, it was quite intimidating at the start, but we got through it, and she was more than helpful to me.”
“We had to figure out exactly what chemistry we had,” he says. “The intimacy team that we've worked with here has been fantastic. Hopefully, it looks legit on screen!”
Xavier also found a rock in on screen mum, Jane – aka Neighbours legend Annie Jones.
"The first scene I had on Neighbours was with Annie,” he reveals. “She’s been another person to lean on. We're still exploring that, so it's been really nice.”
Neighbours returns on Amazon Freevee from Monday, September 18, dropping one episode per day from Monday to Thursday every week. For more information on how to watch, see www.amazon.co.uk/watchneighbours