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TV

Melina Vidler and Benson Jack Anthony talk 800 Words

The stars of 800 Words just click!

In real life, 800 Words stars Melina Vidler and Benson Jack Anthony get along like a house on fire. But today there’s one thing they can’t see eye to eye on – and that’s if they should research jumping off the 328m-tall Sky Tower before doing it themselves.
“I would freak out if I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen,” explains Benson, who has just finished telling us the human body reaches speeds of up to 80km/h when free-falling off the Auckland landmark.
“I would freak out if I did know,” laughs Melina. “It’s like googling childbirth – you just don’t! You don’t want to see what happens to you. You just want it to happen and then you can move on.”
Sipping on soy lattes, Sydney imports Melina, 23, and Benson, 19 – who play squabbling siblings Shay and Arlo Turner on 800 Words – are trying to psych themselves up for the fall.
It’s all Woman’s Day’s fault. We set up the jump because they’d been living in New Zealand for seven months and it was time they tried one of our most popular tourist activities. Although, to be fair, they’d done well so far with immersing themselves in Kiwi culture during their two seasons filming the popular TVNZ 1 drama in Auckland.
The besties wax lyrical about the sights and scenery they’ve discovered. A road trip to the capital, a hangi in Rotorua, glowworm caves in Waitomo, wine on Waiheke and a hike to the top of Rangitoto Island are just a few things they’ve ticked off their bucket lists.
Then there are the amazing locations they’ve been filming at around and Auckland’s west coast. Benson says, “We’re pretty much paid tourists!”
Melina and Benson formed an instant rapport when they met each other – and their on-screen father, Kiwi actor Erik Thompson – in the 800 Words casting
room in Sydney back in 2014.
Flame-haired Benson recalls, “Two weeks later, we were on a plane. That’s where Melina and I really established a connection. A three-hour plane trip with someone you barely know helps.”
The big move to Auckland was Benson’s first time living away from his parents, but the City of Sails is now his second home. He says, “Returning for season two, we were coming back to familiar ground and able to create new memories on top of the ones we already have. It feels homey now and not like we’re here for work.”
Back in Australia, not only are their fans more vocal, but their admiration is also more extreme. “I’ve had a fan vomit on me,” chuckles Benson. “They got overwhelmed and had a little spill. I just replied, ‘It’s really nice to meet you. Maybe we’ll get a photo tomorrow?’”
Now, as the trembling pair get into their multicoloured jumpsuits and strap on their harnesses for their big jump off the Sky Tower, they are hoping not to have the same involuntary reaction as that eager fan.
Melina and Benson struck up an instant rapport with each other and their TV dad Erik.
Melina takes the leap first, with Benson following soon after. “I want to do it again!” the blonde beauty beams straight after touching down. “And again and again and again!”
“That was awesome!” adds Benson as he gets out of his harness. “It was way scarier than I anticipated, but once Melina went, I just had to jump!”

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