Bendigo's Lincoln Younes rolls into Summer Bay

Lincoln Younes is about to turn 19, is a quarter of the way through a university degree, has just moved out of home, and is loving not having to tell his mum where he's going or when he'll be back. So far, so normal.Except that Lincoln Younes has also spent the past two years as an integral part of one of Australia's most grown-up, sophisticated television dramas, and has now moved to Sydney to take up a role in one of Australia's most popular and longest-running soaps. It has not, it's fair to say, been an ordinary adolescence. TV aficionados will know Younes as Romeo Kovac from the superb local drama Tangle, where he played the troubled son of Ben Mendelsohn and Justine Clarke in a performance that more than held its own against those two luminaries. "It is kind of crazy when I think about it," Younes says. Crazy is one word for it. When he arrived in Melbourne in 2008, the sum total of his acting experience was a couple of musicals with Bendigo's Flora Hill Secondary College, and a part in a Global Rock Eisteddfod production of Peter Pan when he was 14. Somehow he managed to find an agent. The agent, Joanna Milosz, got him an audition for Tangle. Younes got the part."And it wasn't until the first day on set that I realised how many amazing actors were in it," Younes says. Along with Catherine McClements, Matt Day and Joel Tobeck, Younes was working closely with Clarke ("The nicest person in the universe"), Mendelsohn ("Fascinating. You could write a thesis about him"), and Kat Stewart. "The night before, I'd seen her in Underbelly as Roberta Williams," Younes laughs. "I was expecting this freaky, violent bogan but she was the most eloquent, the most elegant, the most beautiful person I'd ever met."But it was playing Mendelsohn's son that really had an impact. "I know he's difficult sometimes on set, but he was always really respectful to me, and I just learnt so much from him. It was the best training ground anyone could hope for."By the time he was 18 Younes had completed his VCE, a year of humanities at Melbourne Uni, embarked on a law degree and completed two seasons of Tangle, a guest spot on City Homicide and a couple of parts in small local films. He'd also managed to find time to fall into a funk about not getting enough roles. "I did six months of uni and season two of Tangle in the first half of last year," he says. "Then there was this six, or maybe four, months of no auditions at all. I got that first post-production depression. That was quite crap." He thought he'd cheer himself up by going to London. "As soon as I decided that, I got five auditions in the same week. And I was literally outside the travel agent ready to pay for my ticket when I got a call from my agent saying I'd got the part in Home and Away."The law degree has been deferred. "I thought law would be interesting, challenging," Younes says. "But I hate - I hate it! - when people say you should have a plan B. If you're constantly focusing on plan B you're not focusing on plan A."Fortunately plan A seems to be working just fine, although Younes describes his new role as a mixed blessing. He is genuinely alarmed by the publicity and profile associated with it. "And the acting is very different," he says. "With Tangle you knew what your arc was, you knew the whole story. With this it's a very gradual unravelling of character." Soap acting also inevitably involves much more passing of the salt and making of cups of tea. "And it's weird, you think it should be easier. But everyone in the world knows what it's like to make a cup of tea or pass the salt. Everyone's a critic. Everyone has an opinion on how it should be done. I reckon it's harder to be convincing as ordinary." Younes will play Casey Braxton, the youngest of three brothers who move to Summer Bay, bringing their outlaw ways with them. "Casey's come from the wrong side of the tracks. He's come to a new place and is trying establish himself on the straight and narrow, while his brothers are doing anything but that."He is, Younes adds slightly despondently, the sensitive type. After playing Romeo Kovac, he's just about had enough of the tortured and brooding. "Casey's trying to figure out where he fits in. A very mixed-up teen. Which is a bit weird for me because at the moment I'm starting to come into my own as a person, to realise what I want and how to get it. So to go back and have to play that screws with your head a bit." Still, that's why they call it acting. "And there are so many good actors on that show," Younes says. "I can learn a lot from them. It's all interesting. It's all learning. It's all fun."

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