Surprise! Home and Away’s infamous cult Vita Nova is about to strike again and this time, fan favourite Justin, played by the equally popular James Stewart, could very well be the next victim.
Speaking to Mediaweek ahead of September 28’s triple episode, Stewart admitted that the “double kidnap” was the result of an earlier storyline where he “saved the day” by helping remove Andrew Lawrence (Joshua Hewson) from the fictitious group.
“Now the cult comes back, nabs us, tricks us, takes us away and locks us up!” he said of the episode.
The “us” Stewart is referring to, is, of course, Justin and Leah (Ada Nicodemou) — the couple who everyone can’t get enough of. And during the feature-length instalment, their lives are in danger when their relaxing weekend getaway turns potentially deadly.
“It’s about three days of no food, no water, no plumbing, no light and no air,” he said. “Justin tries to save them by getting up out through the roof, where he has a massive fall. He has an injury so bad that he can’t move. He’s pretty much on death’s door, so it’s a big fall. And what the viewers will see tonight — which I really think our head writer has done pretty well here — is to have Justin breathing some of what he thinks are his last breaths.”
James Stewart on Leah’s proposal
For fans of the series, the on-screen couple’s relationship has been a very welcomed addition to the long-running soap, with viewers questioning whether the pair will ever get married. And even though disaster has struck, it looks like they will finally get their wish when Leah proposes to her boyfriend. But will he live long enough to make it to the altar?
“You know us actors, we love to do something dramatic!” he joked. “And so when we’re reading it and doing it and shooting it, it was a really hard thing. And then such a simple love moment, you didn’t really have to rehearse it. It was pretty magical and pretty dark and dank and dirty and all the things that Ada doesn’t like!”
He continued: “You kind of have to take characters away from each other, to bring them back together in a way, for each other. Because if you can’t create any drama, then it just becomes something that you wouldn’t want to tune into.”
Over the course of Justin and Leah’s love story, Justin has asked his girlfriend several times to be his wife, to which Leah (who has been married a total of five times on the show) says they don’t need to be married to be happy.
“That right there is half of Australia,” he said. “There’s probably couples who are together who don’t need to get married and the other half, they do need to get married. So, we were okay to have our hands up to be the couple that didn’t need to do it.”
Faced with losing him, Leah decides that now is the perfect time to say she wants to make it official — completely on brand for a character, whose previous marriages have all ended in disaster, including three of them dying throughout the series’ run.
“Justin has sat her down [previously] and said, ‘Right. Now, three of your husbands have died and two of your husbands have bailed. What’s going on there?” he said. “There were a couple of times when we were up in Taree [where the kidnapping scenes were filmed] and I was lying on the floor. And in those last takes, she turns down and says, ‘Justin, will you marry me?’ and I wanted to go, ‘But all your husbands die! You’re the Black Widow!'”
While that would have been a hilarious turn of events, luckily for us, Stewart insisted “It really was a beautiful moment.”
“I’ve got to say the reason it’s a beautiful moment is because of Ada…she absolutely knocked it out of the park. She went there. She dug real deep and it surprised me, which is hard to do when you’ve been working with someone for three or four years.”
As for the question if Justin survives? You’ll just have to wait and see!
Catch Home and Away’s unmissable triple episode from 7.00 pm on Thursday, September 28 on 7 and 7plus.