Richard Roxburgh has had his Sydney house taken over while his celebrity chef and author wife Silvia Colloca films a new TV food show, and it has thrown the actor into “a whirlwind of madness”.
He’s been “wrangling the kiddos” before putting sons Raphael, 12, and Miro, 8, on a flight to Italy as unaccompanied minors to spend time with cousins, which meant Roxburgh had daughter Luna, 2, all to himself.
“I spent some glorious time with my baby girl at my brother’s farm,” he says.
“I like to get my hands dirty but because it’s just her and me, opportunities to do rouseabout work is more limited to driving up to the shed to collect firewood.”
The actor’s real-life rural idyll with a small daughter is a sharp contrast to his latest screen role in SBS’ timely and important drama The Hunting.
Roxburgh, an AACTA and Logie winner for Rake, Blue Murder and Hawke, plays the protective father of a boy involved in a nude teen photo scandal.
The pressure of the legal and moral net of sex, trust and consent sees his fraught relationship with on-screen wife Asher Keddie exposed as much as the victims of the photo outcry.
While his sons were in Italy, they kept in touch via Skype.
The irony isn’t lost on Roxburgh that technology kept him in touch with his boys, while in The Hunting its misuse threatens to destroy families and lives.
“My older boy is at that age where you have to talk to him about what can go wrong on the internet,” he says.
“We need to keep up with what makes these kids tick. It’s not enough to say, ‘Don’t send nude pictures of yourself because that’s a stupid idea’. That’s not working. We need to come up with other strategies.”
His and Colloca’s approach is to “keep communication open” and teach their children not to buy into “fear mongering” online.
“The best hope you ever have is just to raise kids in a world with an understanding of what it means to be a decent human being, to have respect for others.
“Look after that stuff, the rest should look after itself.”
After almost 15 years of marriage, the other lessons Roxburgh, 57, and Colloca, 42, give their children is more unspoken.
“Kids learn about love not from the love you give them, that’s expected, but from the way they see you together as a couple,” he says.
“They learn about the ongoing domestic nature of love and that’s a critical thing.”
While “there’s no secrets I would be prepared to reveal” about keeping a long relationship alive, “there are things that get up your nose … and compromise is the only way a marriage is going to work,” Roxburgh says.
“Silvia and I are both incredibly busy people so there is a lot of that.”
His relationship with Keddie in The Hunting faces different stresses.
“One thing that unfolds is the slow-burning realisation between Asher’s and my character that – especially from Asher’s side – there is a deep problem that may or may not have been a part of the source of the way that our son has behaved,” Roxburgh says.
“For whatever reason, he is not getting the right messages about the way to treat others. But it’s not about blaming. It’s about holding all this stuff up to the light.”
Last year, Roxburgh spent three months shooting HBO’s Catherine the Great with Helen Mirren in Russia and Lithuania, and playing an “English rock star ageing disgracefully” in a US pilot.
While he “loved” those projects and regular ones at home – relearning high school maths to understand Raphael’s homework and doing Pilates “with 11 ladies in Mona Vale” – there’s “a Rake-sized hole” in his life.
“I’ve missed the excitement of generating my own work,” he says of the beloved legal show that ran from 2010 until last year.
“I miss the knowledge I had for eight years that I would be going back to Rake and working with that fabulous bunch of people again, the kind of endless creative endeavour of it.”
Still, “I know I’m a really lucky bastard”, Roxburgh says.
“I have this family that is so important to me that I just love so much.”
The Hunting premieres on Thursday, August 1 at 8.30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand