Man of the house

Vet­eran TV ac­tor Gary Sweet is en­joy­ing be­ing back in the lime­light, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

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.

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