The Step Dave actor chats to Cleo on the eve of the show’s hotly anticipated season finale.
He lights up the screen every Tuesday evening as the titular character on Step Dave, but until last year actor Jono Kenyon was just a drama school graduate working in a bar and looking for acting gigs. The Aucklander stars as a 24-year-old ladies’ man who gives up his single life when he falls in love with 39-year-old mother-of-three Cara (Sia Trokenheim).
Jono says the reason the show is so popular is because people find it easy to relate to. “It’s not trying to show anything other than real characters and real situations,” he says. “People want to be able to sit down on their couch in the evening to watch something and go, ‘Yeah, that happened to my friend!’ or ‘I had a similar experience.’ If you make it real and about everyday people, like the people that watch the show, that’s what makes people come back because they believe and trust in the characters.”
Indeed, it was Jono’s connection with Dave, who’s also a bartender, which drew him to the role. “Me and Dave are pretty damn similar and I can relate to everything about him. He’s a genuinely good dude, he means well and he doesn’t have any malice.”
It’s the first big role for Jono, a graduate of Wellington’s national drama school, and he describes the lead-up to being cast as incredibly nerve-wracking. “We had the final audition followed by three days before we found out if we had the role,” he says. “I remember those three days were absolutely paralyzing. Your life is bordering on taking the next step that you’ve always dreamed of or remaining in your mundane state.” He knew it was down to him and just one other actor when he got a call from his agent, who works across the road from his house. “I bolted across the street and ran up the stairs and opened the door and said, ‘Just tell me’, and she goes ‘You’re Dave!’ And I remember this sense of absolute relief. It was like all the pressure had lifted.”
A former Marlborough Boys’ College student, Jono moved to Blenheim with his family from Essex in England when he was 13. His accent’s stuck around, “I think it helped me with the ladies early on!” he says with a laugh.
With such a dramatic episode last week, we’re dying to know what’s in store for Dave and Cara in the season finale on Tuesday! Jono’s not giving too much away, but he does say it’s the best yet.
Catch the final episode of Step Dave at 8.30pm on TV2 this Tuesday.