Man of the house
Veteran TV actor Gary Sweet is enjoying being back in the limelight, writes Colin Vickery
GARY Sweet reckons he just scrapes through with a pass as a real-life father. On House Husbands, Sweet plays devoted husband and dad Lewis Crabb.
Lewis is on to his third marriage — old school, stubborn, tough on the outside but a big softie on the inside.
Sweet has also had a turbulent relationship history.
The 55-year-old has been married three times. In 1981, he wed actress Lenore Smith ( The Restless Years, The Flying Doctors). The couple had two children — Frank and Sophie.
In 1987, Sweet married lawyer Jill Miller but that too ended in divorce.
In 1995, he wed Better Homes and Gardens host Johanna Griggs. The marriage ended but produced two kids — Jesse James and Joe Buster.
Sweet copped plenty of media flak after the split— the lovable larrikin of Police Rescue, Bodyline and Blue Murder was portrayed as a bounder.
Sweet and Griggs finally buried the hatchet in 2010.
Sweet is the first to admit his ever-changing relationship status has taken its toll on his ability to live up to the fictional Lewis when it comes to parenting.
‘‘ I’d give myself a five or a six out of 10,’’ Sweet says. ‘‘ I wish I was better.
‘‘( Son) Frank is the one I see the most of these days because he lives in Melbourne (where the top-rating House Husbands is filmed). ‘‘ Sophie lives in Adelaide and my two little blokes — well, they’re not so little — live in Sydney.
‘‘ I try to be as good a father as I can be when I see them, but I often don’t see my younger ones as much as I’d like to. I do the best with the skills I’ve got.’’
Sweet’s personal life has been a rollercoaster, but his acting career is in full swing.
Next week, Sweet stars alongside Jeremy Sims, William McInnes and Susie Porter in Dangerous Remedy.
The ABC telemovie spotlights Dr Bertram Wainer, who campaigned for abortion law reform.
Early this year, Sweet filmed the movie Two Mothers, with Naomi Watts and Robin Wright, based on a book by Doris Lessing.
Sweet’s credits include The Pacific, Small Time Gangster and Rescue Special Ops.
House Husbands is the jewel in the crown — a mainstream hit that has brought Sweet’s popularity and profile back to Police Rescue levels. ‘‘ When I first read the ( House Husbands) scripts I thought people would be able to relate to the stories and the families,’’ Sweet says.
‘‘ It is a show with a lot of warmth to it. It’s definitely got a heartbeat.’’
House Husbands focuses on four men — played by Sweet, Gyton Grantley, Rhys Muldoon and Firass Dirani — who are raising young families.
Lewis becomes a stay-athome dad to five-year-old
It is a show with a lot of warmth to it. It’s definitely got a heartbeat
daughter Tilda, when he sells his building business.
Lewis wants to retire and wife Gemma (Julia Morris) is committed to her nursing career.
‘‘ The main difference between Lewis and me is that he’s a little less progressive than I am,’’ Sweet says with a laugh.
‘‘ The thing I like about him is that he is fundamentally decent. He has a great deal of integrity, he is a good dad and he is in love with his partner.’’
Playing Gemma is a big jump for Morris, who is best known as one of the stars of comedy sketch show Full Frontal.
The 44-year-old won last year’s Celebrity Apprentice Australia and also took out Seven singing contest It Takes Two.
‘‘ I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some reservations (about Morris) at the start — but then I met her,’’ Sweet says.
‘‘ Now she is one of my favourite people in the world. The (public) perception of her is that she is quite upfront and out there.
‘‘ But the more you get to know her, the more you realise how extremely well prepared (as an actor) she is.
‘‘ She is sharply intelligent and very generous and deeply compassionate, and great fun to be around. She is very courageous in her decision-making. She’s really determined to make this ( House Husbands) a success. She’s not here to make up the numbers.’’
Sweet’s bond with Muldoon, Grantley and Dirani is just as strong.
‘‘ We (four actors) are different in terms of our experience and our lives but we . . . have a great deal of fun together.’’ House Husbands, Channel 9, Sunday, 8.30pm
SWEET SUPPORT THROUGH LABOUR
IT looks as if Gary Sweet is about to become a grandfather on House Husbands. Lewis Crabb’s (Sweet) teenage daughter Phoebe (Georgia Flood, pictured left), from his second marriage, has arrived on his doorstep pregnant. Phoebe is dealing with lots of grown up issues — her parents’ divorce, her father’s new marriage and her pregnancy. In the House Husbands season final, Phoebe goes into labour. Flood is best known for her role as Charlotte in the critically acclaimed Tangle, opposite Catherine McClements, Ben Mendelsohn and Justine Clarke. Actor Gary Sweet is revelling in being a screen dad.