Married to Gia Carides, one daughter
There's an old joke. A guy is walking along a beach and finds a lamp. He rubs it and out pops a genie. "One wish," says the genie. "Anything you want." The guy thinks. "I want you to build me a freeway from Adelaide to Hobart." The genie's shocked. "Are you out of your mind? Do you realise the engineering and cost involved in creating something so ridiculous, so impossible, so unnecessary? Make another wish!" The guy shrugs. "Okay then, can you explain the mysteries of women to me?" The genie replies: "So how many lanes do you want on this freeway?"
Our family is the embodiment of the Italian saying: "Men are the head of the family and women are the neck - they control the head."
I'm with Socrates when it comes to women: the only true knowledge is to acknowledge that you know nothing. Seriously, the more I learn about women, the less I understand them. Guys are basic. Tell us where to go, we'll be there. We don't over-think life. That's as true of little boys as it is of old men like me. Women are faster to develop, faster on the uptake. Their power to nurture new life gives them the edge. Men are hapless in comparison. We never catch up our whole lives. I watch my six-year-old daughter Bridget interacting with boys her age and she's so far in front of them it's crazy. They're putty in her hands.
I was a shy Adelaide boy and a slow starter when it came to girls. Truth is, as a young man I lived and breathed football, not females. When I was 17, I came to Sydney with Adelaide City. We stayed in Kings Cross and I roomed with two older guys. They hit the town. I hit the hay. They'd only been gone an hour when there was a knock on the door. I opened up and there was a woman there. "Is your name Anthony?" "Er ... yeah."
"Your friends sent me up to say 'Hi.'" I slammed the door, locked it and jumped back in to bed!
People ask what it was like to be outed as a 20-year-old virgin by my wife on national TV. That's just Gia's personality - she has no in-built edit system. That's one of the reasons I fell in love with her. I have two brothers and Gia is one of three sisters, but even when I met the Carides girls for the first time, I knew enough about women to respectfully ask Gia's mother, not so much for permission to marry her daughter but to state my intentions. Noelie's response was: "She's a handful. I hope you know what you're doing." The answer then was as it is today: "Of course I do. That's what I love about her."
Jack Nicholson said once, "Women are smarter than us but they don't play fair", and I agree. Their observational skills are sharper, which makes their life a more detailed process for the same result as ours. Even after 17 years together, Gia and I make each other laugh, even when we argue. Once, I went all Italian on her, ranting and raving. Gia kept her back to me, then turned and gave me this look. She was wearing a white moustache from bleaching her lip. My macho charade collapsed in laughter. Women know how to cut a guy to the quick.
Our family is the embodiment of the Italian saying: "Men are the head of the family and women are the neck - they control the head." Between Gia and Bridget, I'm outgunned. As a guy, I try to be always straight with my girls. I don't lie and I aim to be consistent. If I say I'm going to do it, I do it, and if I'm not sure, I don't promise it. But women establish one set of rules for their men and another set for themselves. At our place neither is conducive to my lying on the couch reading the newspaper. Take the concept of time. I'll be 20 minutes late and all hell breaks loose. Gia can be three hours late and I'll just shrug. With women, I've learned it's better to beg for forgiveness rather than to ask permission.
There's a point in a relationship where a line gets drawn in the sand. Here's what you need, here's what I need. How do we find a balance? But there are also occasions in a man's life when women want a guy to be a mind reader and to guess what they need and what they want. That's a man's cue to sweat. Suddenly he's a contestant in a game show he's unlikely to win. My advice? When asked, "Do these jeans make me look fat?", always, no matter what, answer, "No." When asked, "Does this colour look good on me?", reply, "Yes. Yes, it does."
I'm a great believer that under every rock lies a truth. My job as an actor is to investigate all those truths and mistruths before the camera rolls. Then, when the director calls action, I throw it all away. Normally, by osmosis, I've taken on the character's instincts. If not? Hell, I just fudge my way through it. I've taken the same approach to women. Understanding them is a living, learning experience, an experiment that's ongoing.
Balibo is screening now.