Plain sailing for Step Dave and Cara?
Before Jono Kenyon landed the role of bartender Dave on Step Dave, he was unsure whether he would find a role in New Zealand. In fact, he was once told that he would struggle to find work here. "I was told by a casting director that I wouldn't get a role in New Zealand because I don't do a Kiwi accent and I'm too tall," Kenyon says.
English-born and standing 1.98m (six-foot six), Kenyon is used to people drawing attention to his height. "I know when it's raining before you do, although you can look up my nose. Growing up I always wanted to be a jockey which was unfortunate," he deadpans. "As you can tell I have a lot of repartee when it comes to tall questions. I have a whole list of those."
How wrong that casting director was. This week Kenyon returns to our screens for the second season of the local drama in which he stars opposite Sia Trokenheim. In season one, 25-year-old Dave and 40-year-old mother-of-three Cara tested the waters in their new relationship.
In season two the love birds are a lot more settled, Kenyon says, with Dave more confident in his new step-father role. "At the end (of season one) they were like 'Yes, we're going to stay together,' so we get that now. Season two is exploring what happens when that relationship is locked in. We don't want every episode to be 'Oh my god, they're going to break up,' because that gets boring. I think Dave grows up a lot this time. He matures from a young boyfriend who means well and tries his best with the kids but messes up, to becoming the father figure."
Although Kenyon says his life has not really changed since he took on the role of Dave, he did have to prepare himself for the inevitable comments from the viewing public. "I feel very lucky in that sense, that it's all been very positive," he says. "There's been no 'step lame' or anything like that. Lots of people come up with the stories of how they relate to the character, like 'People call me Step Dylan because my Mrs is older than me,' which is really great and really humbling in a way."
While Dave is now living with Cara in season two of the show, Kenyon says he currently resides in a flat with drama school friend and actor Richard Osbourne, who plays Alex on Shortland Street. That may bring to mind comparisons of Dave's former flat with friend Aza, but Kenyon says the situation is quite different. "I give Richard some credit, he's not like Aza," Kenyon says. "But sometimes I have to remind him to bring his plates up from his room."
Kenyon's height is also something Trokenheim, who plays Cara, has had to consider in her time working with him on Step Dave. "That's the only reason I wear these all the time," the 1.7m (five-foot seven) actress says as she pulls her leg up to her head to reveal one of her high-heeled boots. "I never wear high heels in real life, never ever. But with him it's sort of a must otherwise it can be quite tricky to frame two people standing next to each other."
While Kenyon thinks Dave and Cara's relationship is a done deal this season, Trokenheim says things might not be quite so straightforward for her. "Well he might say that, but from Cara's point of view it's not that easy because he is 25 after all and she's not," Trokenheim says. "They've both got a lot at stake don't get me wrong, but from her point of view there is a lot to worry about all the time."
Returning to the character of Cara for another season, Trokenheim says she loves playing the single mother. "She is a parent so she has that intuitive sensitive side to her which she needs to be able to communicate with her kids," she says. "But then she also can get very flustered which is fun as well. She often talks too much or says too much, especially in this season, and she's not a good liar. There's just a lot going on with her. She's not straightforward. There's always an undercurrent of some sort going on with her, but I love it all. She's very real I think."
As a mother and step-mother herself, Trokenheim definitely relates to the blended family concept. After filming finished on season one she says she relished the opportunity to spend more time at home. "I resumed back to being a mum because my son hadn't seen much of me for the duration of the first season," she says. "I was quite stressed out during that period of time so it was nice to come home again and do the family thing. But I also went to India and I shot a film there..." she adds. "We went to the Himalayas for two months. That was quite an experience."
Step Dave, TV2, Tuesday
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- TV Guide