Was Kiwi actor Ido Drent nervous about playing counsellor Lawrence Pethbridge in quirky Aussie drama Offspring? "Nervous? Absolutely. Intimidated? Hell, yeah," says the former Shortland Street star about the prospect of working with the highly regarded Asher Keddie and Kat Stewart, who play the show’s Proudman sisters, Nina and Billie. "They're two extraordinary actresses and that just scared me like, 'Oh my goodness this is going to be full on'."
Luckily for him, they both turned out to be "lovely" which, given how much screen time he shares with the pair, is fortunate. After being a guest star last season, Drent, 27, is back this year as a fully-fledged cast member and it appears his character, counsellor Lawrence Pethbridge, will have a key part to play as events unfold.
The fourth season ended with the tragic death of Patrick (Matthew Le Nevez) and his heartbreaking funeral, a grieving Nina giving birth to his child, and the crumbling of Billie and Mick’s marriage. This season resumes six months later with Nina and Billie living together and co-parenting the baby.
And it seems Billie’s problems with Mick (Eddie Perfect) lead to her seeking help from Dr Lawrence. "Let’s just say there are going to be some romantic explosions (between the two)," says Drent, who is predictably reticent about revealing too much. "There’s definitely some romantic imagery in there, but you never know how these things are going to turn out, especially where Nina Proudman’s involved."
Offspring is renowned for its twists, but even its cast members were stunned by the response from fans to Patrick’s death. Asher Keddie, who plays Nina, was reportedly "consoled" by a grief-stricken woman in a cafe after the season finale (the actress ended up consoling her), while Matthew Le Nevez, who plays Patrick, is still embraced on the street by fans. "People were up in arms, I swear," Drent says.
"People were saying they were going to leave the show. Girls were crying and offices were crying over Patrick.
"It made me realise how amazing and powerful the show actually is when people are so involved and so invested. It’s brilliant and quite amazing to see."
The role could not have come at a better time for Drent, who quit Shortland Street after three years playing bad boy Daniel Potts with the aim of finding work across the Tasman. While Daniel swaggered off set with a million-dollar windfall in his pocket, Drent believes he is the one who has really struck it lucky.
"I couldn't have had it any better. I went over (to Sydney) on the Friday, had the Saturday and Sunday in Sydney with my wife, I signed with my agent over there on the Thursday, had a couple of months coming back to New Zealand and then came the phone call that I got the role on Offspring," he says.
"I'm very, very fortunate to have it gone the way it has. I know of other actors who have been over there for three years and still haven't got work."
The luck didn't end there. He also scored the role of drummer John Fariss in the drama Inxs: Never Tear Us Apart and was back in New Zealand to film the mini-series When We Go To War.
"I've been very fortunate to go from playing a counsellor to an iconic drummer to running around the trenches in World War I," Drent says. "It’s going to set me for moving to the States now. I've got a lot of range to show people. "It’s not just like, 'Oh, I did a soap opera'. It’s a contemporary piece and I guess two period pieces."
Drent and wife Emma, who wed three years ago, spent the last three months of 2014 in Los Angeles, returned to Auckland for Christmas and will head back Stateside soon. The couple have apartments in both cities and Ido says they have mastered the art of fitting their lives into a 23kg suitcase.
"We just see it as an adventure," he says.
"We make the most of every day and we are at the stage in life where we can.
"There are certain things we are sacrificing in the short term, but we are both happy with that.
"As soon as one of us isn't, we'll renegotiate. Ultimately, we got married to do life together."