says they don’t hang out constantly. “I learn from him and I’m sure he has learnt from me. I think the past has helped us both stand on our own feet. If he has a problem, I am there for him and I know he is there for me. I love my son.”
If Campbell lacked an anchor as a child, he has found one in adulthood and his marriage. He and Lisa laugh constantly, riffing off each other on everything from TV shows to parenting. As well as running a production company, Lisa is the chair of Sydney’s Hayes Theatre Company and the creative force behind the family’s elaborate annual Halloween costumes. When asked recently to contribute to an homage to Magda Szubanski, it was Lisa’s idea to dress their daughter Betty as Szubanski’s Kath & Kim character Sharon Strzelecki. Resplendent in a netball uniform and bowl-cut wig, Betty, who is also Szubanski’s goddaughter, is hilarious in her video message mimicking the use of “it’s noice” and “unusual”.
Asked what makes her marriage seem so solid and shiny, Lisa doesn’t miss a beat: “Both of us think we got the better deal.” Campbell concurs: “I definitely married up. She’s my best friend and I go to her first when I need to make decisions.” The support runs both ways. Lisa, an only child, lost her mum to cancer when she was just 17 and was devastated by the recent death of her father. “He was such a big part of our lives and we miss him terribly,” says Campbell, who credits Lisa with urging him to build a relationship with his own father.
Yet being the son of an Australian legend brings its own pressures. “My dad is iconic – they’ll never make another one like him. Him and [John] Farnham, that’s it,” muses Campbell. “I often wonder where’s my value in that, and I feel I have to prove myself more to keep what I have so I don’t lose everything.”
Such a fate is unlikely. Campbell and Kruger are heading into their eighth year as co-hosts, he won best actor this year at both the Helpmann and Sydney Theatre Awards for two different roles, and there’s every chance Baby It’s Christmas will match the sales of his previous platinum-selling albums. Campbell is also one of the frontrunners being touted to replace Karl Stefanovic if and when he eventually leaves Today. Asked if he would take the gig were it offered, he replies diplomatically, “Karl’s not going anywhere. It’s Karl.” But if the role did come up… “I haven’t thought about it – I’m too busy thinking about everything else on my plate.”
That Campbell has balanced such professional success with hands-on parenting and a dedicated approach to his health and fitness – he’s 25kg lighter than in his 30s – is all part of being a better man. As Kruger quips: “In the time we’ve worked together, he’s given up drinking, taken up running and become a vegan. But I still like him.”
Campbell points out that unlike most hosting partnerships, she’s the “alpha” of the duo. Kruger says it’s only because she’s worked in television for a long time. Besides, when it comes to parenting, she says, he’s the alpha and she’s the beta. Plus there are the jokes. “He’s one of the most talented people I’ve ever known, but beyond that it’s his ability to make me laugh on and off air that I enjoy most,” she tells Stellar. “If I had a dollar for every time he’s left me in stitches after saying something totally inappropriate during a break, I’d own a television network.”
Ideologically, however, they couldn’t be more different – as evidenced when Kruger called on Australia to ban Muslim immigrants during a debate on Today in 2016. While Campbell disagreed, more than two years on he has no interest in reigniting the firestorm that ensued. “Friends are allowed to disagree on things and friends also have to support each other
Interview by SASKIA TILLERS
Before you began ballet at 13, we’ve heard you had a thing for making up dance routines to Mariah Carey songs in your bedroom. So which was your favourite? It’s true. There’s a song called ‘Looking In’. It’s funny looking back on that song because it’s very deep. Mariah Carey did a great job writing amazing lyrics to really make you feel things. You had a special friendship with Prince. What’s your favourite memory of him? Oh, so many. I felt we were very similar in the way that we were confident in who we were, but at the same time both kind of introverts who don’t really become everything we can be until we are on the stage doing what we love. The first time I performed with him, it was maybe 2010 – at this point I’d only known him as my friend and had never seen him perform. Seeing him transform into this magical, mythical creature, I was like “Oh, that’s why he’s Prince!” You made history when you became the first African-american female principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre. Were you surprised by the attention? Growing up as a bi-racial woman, being raised with my five siblings by my bi-racial mother, it was at the forefront of conversations that we had at home. I had an awareness of how the world would see me. Entering the ballet world, I felt like I had a leg up on a lot of dancers who haven’t embraced that they’re not like everyone else. I still experience discrimination; I don’t think there’s a black person in the world, especially in America, who say that they don’t. [But] it’s something that’s made me stronger. You argue that dancers shouldn’t succumb to body-image pressures…