‘We all hit it off like it was yesterday’
You can’t help but imagine the sensation of a big warm hug when the fellas from Back to the Rafters talk about getting back on set. For Hugh Sheridan, reuniting with his on-screen family was like “putting on your favourite PJs and socks”.
“It was a warm, wonderful and a welcoming experience,” the 36-year-old Aussie actor tells WHO. “Although we had all changed, the Rafters family dynamic was exactly the same.”
It was a similar feeling for George Houvardas, who describes revisiting his character, family neighbour and close friend Nick “Carbo” Karandonis, as “like putting on an old pair of RM Williams … slightly mature but still fits like a glove”. “We walked into the room for a read through and we all hit it off like it was yesterday,” Houvardas, 39, added.
The nostalgia was also very real for Angus McLaren, who says it’s “hard to believe” it’s been eight years since Packed to the Rafters wrapped. “Eight years has flown past but it also felt like no time at all once we were all working and laughing again on set,” the 32-year-old, who plays Nathan Rafter in the beloved Aussie show, tells WHO. “Things that had changed were probably just that we’re all a bit more experienced, a bit older and dare I say a bit wiser in some ways. All of us have more life experiences under our belts, [but] what has stayed the same is the excellent chemistry we share and being surrounded by a brilliant crew and production team.”
For Sheridan – who as character Ben has started his own little family unit – the dynamics of the
Rafters are very relatable to Aussie audiences. “We all joke that Rafters is the family we’ve never had,” he laughs. “Of course, I love and adore my own family, but the Rafters are a beautiful, normal family. They are caring and considerate; they sort things out and look after each other. I think that is why people relate to us.”
The family bond extends off-screen as well, with McLaren revealing that Thomson and Gibney have become like “surrogate parents” to him. “This might not be surprising but Erik and Bec are just as awesome and lovely in real life as they are on screen,” he tells. “Sometimes it’s said that it’s not a good idea to meet your heroes but I can honestly say that this rule doesn’t apply with these two. They are legends through and through.”
It’s likely good grounding for his own portrayal of a father, with McLaren’s character Nathan a single dad to his young son Edward when the show kicks off. “To me, Nathan has always been a character who has the best of intentions but not quite the life skills established to successfully navigate his life the way he would ideally like,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoyed the stakes being raised now that Nathan has his son to prioritise and provide for.”
While there might be a few new additions to the Rafter family and many exciting developments in the upcoming series, the boys agree it’s just more for fans to fall in love with. “There’s a story for everyone,” adds Houvardas.
By Sara Tapia