For an intro and some humorous outtakes of the interview please start here.
On Channel Nine’s House Husbands
Reservoir Dad: When you were first approached with the House Husbands script did you see it as a ground-breaking show, with the potential to confront some stereotypes?
Rhys Muldoon: Oh yeah. There’s a zeitgeisty thing about it, definitely. I think what struck me most was that it was not a natural Channel Nine show. There’s stay at home dads in the central role and even a gay couple.
What A (Crazy) Top Bloke!
The culture of Channel Nine in the past… they just wouldn’t have gone for it. So, big kudos for them backing it in.
RD: One of my criticisms in my reviews of Season One was that the Dads were dropping the kids of at school and than ‘hanging out’ between 9am and 3pm, having adventures or meeting in the pub for games of darts. There wasn’t any of the hands on madness of having really young kids around. No changing nappies and dealing with vomit and tantrums and all the other kid-related stuff. But now all of a sudden we have Mark and Abi trying to have a new baby and Lewis – the most manly-man of the house husbands – having a very close connection with his grand daughter, speaking about the frustrations of bottle feeding, rocking the baby to sleep, even attending a mothers’ group. Has the child-rearing become more of a focus in Season Two because of any criticisms the show got during Season One?
Rhys: Not exactly sure about that. Might be something to ask Drew Proffitt (co-creator). But I don’t think that’s the case. At the moment we’re starting to talk about what happens in Season Three, which we’ll start filming in October and because it’s been such a hit Channel nine are saying give us as many episodes as you can, keep churning them out! But writing takes time and the more time you’ve got the better it is for everyone involved in the show.
You don’t want writing to be on the hop. You want to be able to sustain story arcs that can carry through an entire season and even into other seasons. But there’s no question they’re mindful of what the show is about – house husbands – so they’re going to keep returning their focus to that, and that’s probably why the babies are coming in to it.
RD: Yeah, well as a real house husband, this season is more realistic than the last and I’m enjoying it… but it’s that thing that realistic doesn’t always carry over to good television.
Rhys: Yeah, realistic doesn’t matter so much… good art does.
RD: And is that where the bus scene from Season One comes in?
Rhys: Yeah, but get a load of this right. We were all rolling our eyes and shaking our heads at that, even as we were filming it, but where we filmed that episode – at the port Melbourne school – I was having a chat with the principal and he goes, ‘That actually happened…
RD: No way
On Being A Real House Husband
RD: So, you’ve been a house husband in real life?
Rhys: Yeah, a lot of last year I was with Lotte (Rhys’s 5yo daughter). So, she was on set with me every day and with me for whatever I was doing…
RD: I love that. I mean, I think these days there’s a pressure on parents to have their kids enrolled in all these activities that are separate from their parents. But I’ve always thought that when you bring a child into your life they come into your passions and focuses and develop in their own way around them. I mean, if Mum and Dad are active and into life they get enough stimulation and learning.
Rhys: All young kids want is to be around their parents…
RD: So being around cameras and actors would just be a normal thing for her…
Rhys: Yeah I know. My weird life. She’s always been there. When I played in Lockie Leonard she played my bubba, and she was very cute. She first started walking on film. One of the scenes – that the producer thought was going to take forever and might not even work – was when all the family was on the beach and Blob, which was her characters name, had to get up and walk for the first time and Lotte just did it…
RD: No way.
Rhys: It was the first time she walked. On camera.
RD: That’s insane
Rhys: Unbelievable. Yeah, but all the weird things are just normal to her. She’s already flown more than I had by the time I was like thirty…
RD: So what have you found the most difficult thing about being a real house husband?
Rhys: Just being constantly on call. There’s very little down time. It’s unrelenting.
RD: I’ve used that word myself many times.
RD: So, I wrote a series of posts last year after I’d finished the House Husband reviews called The Vasectomy Diaries which went for eight articles and finished with me interviewing the Doctor and his assistant as they were operating on me.
Rhys: Ow… wow.
RD: Yeah. At the end of last season I got a tweet from creater/producer Drew Proffitt. He said he loved my reviews and looked forward to them every week. And it was directly after that that I started The Vasectomy Diaries. Then I notice – in the first episode of House Husbands this year –that your character gets very close to having a vasectomy before wife Abi get a sudden burst of cluckiness and rushes in to put and end to it
RD: So, what I want to know is… did Drew and House Husbands steal the vasectomy idea from me?
Rhys: That I don’t actually know. But shooting that scene was weird.
RD: Have you had a vasectomy?
Rhys: No, but what was weird about shooting it was that I was lying on the table with just a little open patch in the sheet over you know, this area (signalling towards his genitals). So there’s the heaviness of the sheet over you with just the exposed bit and an actress with a scalpel standing right there.
RD: Oh my lord!
Rhys: It just felt really… full on.
RD: When I was getting the snip. Because I had a local…
Rhys: What, a local?!
RD: Yep, and I could feel them pulling and prodding down there…
Rhys: God, so you just knew what was going on the whole time?’
RD: Yep. And the doctor made me look down. I could see me my vas deferens – they looked like pieces of calamari – just hanging outside my scrotum.
RD: Yep. And he wanted me to film it and I was like no way man, no one wants to see my vas deferens. So I just kept the camera on their faces. So it was pretty uncomfortable. Plus, I had my two youngest boys there screaming for attention.’
Rhys: What do you mean there?
RD: I had to take Tyson and Maki with me and I could here Maki screaming down the hall – he was with one of the receptionists – and so I told the nurse to bring him to me until they started operating. So there I was, on the operating table, nude, a baby screaming on my chest, the assistant painting my genitals with that brown antiseptic shit, about to be surgically violated and thinking to myself this is as close to the female birthing experience as I’m going to get…’
On Men and Women
Rhys: Something that’s going to happen in Season Two is that Abi and Mark do a role-swap. Abi feels she’s missing out on Poppy’s upbringing, and the women at the school make her feel she’s neglecting her, and so Mark goes back to work and Abi stays home.
RD: Yeah, that’ll be really interesting. Because one of the things that Reservoir Mum and I encountered when I started staying home was discrimination on both sides. I copped the sly remarks about not fulfilling my manly duties of bringing home the bacon and Reservoir Mum copped the insinuations that she wasn’t a good mother because she worked away from home.
Rhys: Yeah, I find women are much harsher on each other than men are.
Rhys: Yeah, they slaughter each other. Men might do the subtle digs…
RD: Like ‘Oh I’d love to hang out at the park all day.’
Rhys: Yeah, shit like that, which is insensitive, but women… they slaughter each other.’
RD: I think women are often judged harsher as well. Do you think that?
Rhys: Oh yeah. Women have to have a real survival instinct.
RD: It’s the same in the blogging world. Dads doing the blog thing can get called Daddy Bloggers and we don’t think anything of it. It’s almost a fun term. Whereas the term Mummy Blogger is used in an almost derogatory way, to dismiss a woman’s contribution. You know… that whole thing about labelling women as gossipers and flighty and not reliable…’
Rhys: But it’s a funny thing.
RD: It is a funny thing. The world is weird man.
Rhys: The world is weird.
On Art And Living The Life
RD: Do you think you’re living the dream? I mean, I’ve always had an artistic bent and I’ve always made room in my life for writing. But you have so many avenues to work your art – acting, directing, writing your books, your children’s CDs… it must be so satisfying.
Rhys: I’ll tell you what I’m finding most satisfying at the moment – I was just reflecting on this actually – is writing my Sydney Morning Herald column. I’m really digging that. Because when you write, as you’d know, you’re in charge of it. You point the eye where you want the eye to go and the brain where you want the brain to go. It’s your Universe.’
RD: And it’s just a fricken buzz….
Rhys: And you’re in charge of it. You’re fully in charge of it. And it’s just awesome.
RD: Your editor’s fairly light on then?
Rhys: The best. Well, when I took the job I made sure I got to write about what I want and that it had to be left alone, and for the most part he has let it alone. He’s only cut one line in eight articles. It was where I talked about this ex-girlfriend who stabbed me with a wine glass.
RD: Was that a true story?
Rhys: It was a true story.
Rhys Muldoon Humour
Rhys: Oh I’ve got to show you this funny thing actually. I posted these pictures on Twitter. A mate of mine Jim Betts was the head of infrastructure here. And Napthine gave him the flick after he’d been there for ages, right. So I posted this pic of this woman…
RD: (looking at picture 1 on Rhys’s iPhone): Oh my lord!
Rhys: Haha. And I wrote This is what happens to public transport when Jim Betts leaves. Talking to you Dennis Napthine.
Rhys: But then I reposted it with this…
RD: (looking at picture 2 on Rhys’s iPhone): ‘Is that you?
Rhys: Yep. So we recreated that pic last night on the tram. And that’s the actual guy, Jim Betts, in the background.
RD: What a classic. Hey, would I be able to show that on my website?
RD: What a fricken classic.