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by Darren Devlyn
Aaron Jeffery's new man-on-the-and role lets him indulge his passions, acting and farming.
Taking time out from acting for almost two years to be a farmhand and study theology has had a big impact on Aaron.  And the former Water Rats star who returns to the screen as Alex Ryan in the Nine Network's new drama McLeod's Daughters, believes his showbiz break has given his life perspective.
Aaron's a bear of a man who speaks in quiet, measured tones.  He sits under a gum tree and rolls a cigarette as he explains his new role.
"I'm happy to be playing this part because my heart belongs in the country, even though I didn't grow up here.  I had a real urge to leave all this behind, so I worked as a farmhand on a property in Culcairn [NSW] and I loved every minute".
Aaron, 31, loves the solitude of country life and those who know him agree he's never been motivated by fame.  He has, however, paid a hefty price for it.  "Public recognition is a given in this industry.  You cant get away form it... in my case, I had a stalker, a guy obsessed with me for seven very long years.  Its was scary".
The stalking began with death threats when Aaron was still a student at Sydney's National Institure of Dramatic Art.  He received letters, faxes via production office for Water Rats and his 1998 movie The Interview and up to 50 phone calls a day.  It ended after the man attacked Aaron in Sydney's Oxford Street.
"I wouldn't like to face it again," says Aaron of the experience.  "It's the ugly, flip side of the business.  It shook me up."
Aaron was was a security guard doorman, debt collector and insurance salesmans before  before acting, says he's enjoyed the break.  "But, when this job on McLeods Daughters came up, it gave me the perfect opporunity to combine acting and farming!."
Of this role as a man on the land, Aaron admits "There's been alot of chauvinism in this industry over the years.  Now the shoe is on the other foot, with women taking strong lead roles.  And, looking at me character and the way he relates to the McLeods women, Claire and Tess, I could end up as the meat in the chick-flick sandwich!".