• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

REVIEW: In a controversial interview, the former Neighbours star speaks about being accused of indecent assault – and returning to the public eye.

Jun 7, 2021

REVIEW: He hid in a shipping crate for months with just a domesticated rabbit for company.
He’d go surfing at night so no one would see him out in public.
At times, Craig McLachlan would sit on a “Will I or won’t I?” log, filming himself in a state of disbelief, wondering out loud: “How am I going to survive this?”
RHETT WYMAN/Sydney Morning Herald
Craig McLachlan leaving his lawyer’s chambers in Sydney with partner Vanessa Scammell, where he attended a Melbourne court hearing by videolink.
The former Neighbours pin-up boy, now 55, endured three years of this, ending up in a mental institution after a failed suicide attempt.
Why? In 2018, McLachlan faced allegations that he acted improperly while playing Frank’n’furter during the 2014 Australian tour of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
READ MORE:* Craig McLachlan tells Australian court videos he sent were ‘comedic’, not vulgar* ‘He leant up against her’: Court in Australia hears Craig McLachlan got too close* Craig McLachlan kissed, groped fellow performers while on stage, court told* ‘The truth will come out’: Craig McLachlan speaks out after allegations* Craig McLachlan’s sex assault allegations shock Rocky Horror’s Richard O’Brien* Craig McLachlan and the question we need to ask
Caught smack bang in the middle of the #metoo movement, as Hollywood totems like Harvey Weinstein came crashing down, McLachlan was thoroughly cancelled.
“It was the crucible: judge, jury and executioner,” says Vanessa Scammell, McLachlan’s partner who has supported the actor throughout this time. “He was abandoned by everyone.”
A new Channel 7 documentary that aired on TVNZ 1 on Monday night was a chance for McLachlan to tell his side of the story for the first time.
Can it uncancel him? Possibly.
But it went about it in the strangest way possible.
Scott Barbour/Getty Images
McLachlan as Frank N Furter in Rocky Horror Show in 2015.
First, the facts. McLachlan was charged with seven counts of indecent assault and six counts of common law assault against four women on and off stage in 2014.
Despite the judge calling the accounts “credible”, he was acquitted, in December of 2020, of all charges.
In the documentary, McLachlan admits he indulged in a backstage culture of “shenanigans and consensual carry-on” but denies any wrong-doing.
Yes, I mucked in with the rest of them,” he says in this Spotlight documentary. “Make no mistake, I never behaved in a fashion that was disproportionate to what was going on around me.”
That’s not all he says. McLachlan hasn’t spoken about any of this for three years, and he tells the brutal results of his trial, first by the media, then by the public, and finally in the courts.
He was treated, he claims, like he was “some dirty paedophile”. He lost his acting jobs instantly, including his lead in long-running show The Doctor Blake Mysteries. He hasn’t worked a day since.
“Every day is nothing,” he says in one of the many home-made videos included in this documentary.
But McLachlan doesn’t really need to say any of this: his blood red eyes, quivering lips and tense outbursts tell a story all of their own.
It’s compelling but complicates the #metoo discourse. While Weinstein and others are open and shut cases, McLachlan’s is more complicated, more nuanced.
A steady hand is needed to get to the bottom of it.
What this doesn’t need, then, is the Marvel-sized movie treatment that it’s been given.
Craig McLachlan during his time on the long-running Australian soap opera Neighbours.
Split into “acts” and “epilogues” and filled with stirring orchestral swells, mic-drop horns, drone shots of looming thunderstorms, constant cliffhangers and deep-voiced narration, it’s about as over-the-top as it can get.
At one point, McLachlan and Scammell re-enact an on-stage kiss alleged as non-consensual contact during his court case not once, but twice.
At other times they perform musical numbers together, draping themselves over a piano like the pottery scene from Ghost, or sitting around the lounge singing campfire singalongs on ukuleles.
You can’t blame McLachlan for wanting to tell his side.
The problem is, this is only one side of the story. And it isn’t yet over.
A defamation case against Nine Newspapers and ABC still looms, and more allegations surfaced just weeks ago.
Where does the truth lie? Like McLachlan’s late-night surfing sessions, it’s hard to see in the dark.
You can’t help but hope it all washes up on the beach one day.
Where to get help
1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Youthline 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat
Samaritans 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
What’s Up 0800 942 8787 (for 518 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday11pm and weekends, 3pm11pm. Online chat is available 7pm10pm daily.
Kidsline 0800 54 37 54 (0800 kidsline) for young people up to 18 years of age. Open 24/7.
thelowdown.co.nz or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626
Anxiety New Zealand – 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
Rural Support Trust – 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)
Supporting Families in Mental Illness – 0800 732 825
* Spotlight: Craig McLachlan is available on TVNZ OnDeamand