[Neighbours: A New Chapter is an Australian production that filmed before the SAG-AFTRA strike began. Mischa Barton received permission from SAG-AFTRA to do press for the season amid the strike.]
Everybody needs good neighbors, but neighborly affection might not be top of mind for Mischa Barton‘s mysterious Reece Sinclair in Neighbours: A New Chapter.
The legendary Australian soap opera is back by popular demand following the Neighbours series finale in 2022. Now, A New Chapter picks up two years after the events of the finale, and Stefan Dennis is back as Paul Robinson, among a slew of fellow returning cast members. Neighbours: A New Chapter debuted its first episode on Monday, September 18 on Freevee, with new episodes coming out Mondays-Thursdays now through next week.
Dennis and Barton give fans a peek behind the curtain of the fresh iteration in the TV Insider Soap Talk episode above. And as Dennis reveals, it “took [me] 24 hours to make up my mind whether I would go back or not.”
“That’s nothing derogatory towards the show,” he clarifies. “It was just a personal thing as to whether I thought it was going to be career suicide because people would think, oh, that’s all I could do.” Taking on new projects since the series finale, plus sage advice from his wife, made him realize returning to Ramsay Street was the right move. Simply put: “It’s a good gig!” And a long-running one at that.
A clever plot twist takes place in the premiere that sets up a mystery the show will be unraveling for the rest of the season. As Dennis tells us, Paul “is a lot more ruthless now than what he was two years ago” because of that twist.
Barton’s Reece is also bringing new intrigue to the soap. Her character’s identity is kept a secret for the first few episodes, but viewers quickly learn about her romance with Paul’s hotel employee Byron Stone (previously played by Joe Klocek). The American Reece’s reasons for being in Australia — and staying at Paul’s hotel — may be overshadowed by this emotional connection.
Barton has taken on more film than TV roles in the years since The O.C. ended; the last we saw her on the small screen was in The Hills reboot, The Hills: New Beginnings. Barton tells us Reece felt like a role that was “well-written” for her and that it was “written with me in mind a little bit, and adjusted to me as well, which I thought was cool that they were very open to” tailoring the character even more for her skills. The collaboration excited Barton, who says that sharing the screen with fellow newcomer Molyneux was “lovely.”
Paul and Reece’s interactions, however, may not get the same descriptor. “Let’s just say we don’t see eye-to-eye, we don’t get on too well,” Dennis teases.
In the full video interview above, Dennis shares his strongest memories from the “heyday” of Neighbours, the 1980s, when it first debuted. Watch it for more.
Neighbours: A New Chapter, New Episodes Mondays-Thursdays, Freevee