Actor Kevin Hofbauer knows all about mixed marriages.
He is the son of an Austrian father and a mother from Tuvalu, and now finds himself playing an Australian father who married an alien in Planet Lulin.
“They met when dad was in the military. And he did all the maps for East Timor and the Pacific Islands. When he went over, he found her and they fell in love,” he explains.
But he is also a widower in ABC ME’s children series and father to its lead character, grade sixer Lulin (Nina Gallas) who has inherited her mother’s Astoradian powers, although she doesn’t quite know how to use them.
Playing dad Ken, Hofbauer is supportive even if he has entered a galactic mixed marriage.
“Ken’s worried a lot for Lulin because of what happened to his wife, Christine, being sucked into the void. So he’s very protective of her and he has a big heart as well. Something that we’ve worked on throughout this process is as long as everyone else is happy, he’s happy. He very much puts everyone in front of himself,” he tells TV Tonight.
Surrounded by the powers of his daughter, and mother in law Ezme (Lisa McCune), perhaps he is a new age Darrin from Bewitched, then?
“He’s still trying to his head around it and it’s still it still doesn’t make sense. So that’s a great comparison,” he laughs.
Meanwhile Lulin is being tracked by Megaheads; intergalactic invaders in the form of little girls, who are hunting down Astoradians and banishing them to the Void!
The series, which also features rising stars Uma Dumais and Max Turner, marks a change of pace for Hofbauer whose credits include Rush, Spreadsheet, Clickbait, Playing For Keeps. As the young father of twin boys he is eager to show them what Dad does for a living.
“It’s the first Kids TV I’ve done and I cannot wait to show them this. We’ve told them what I do for work, but a lot of the stuff that I’ve done I can’t really show them because it’s not not appropriate. Whereas this show is very much in their wheelhouse of what they watch at the moment I reckon they’re gonna absolutely love it and then be even more in love with Dad,” he explains.
“It definitely makes me more comfortable working with kids because I hadn’t had too much experience working with children, prior. But now having kids of my own, I love it. It’s a lot of fun. I don’t really have anything to compare it to, because it is my first but it is a show where we try and make it as fun as possible. We’ve been lucky enough with the directors that we’ve had, that we are able to have a bit of creative licence, putting funny bits in.”
Hofbauer also credits a high school drama teacher for encouraging him to pursue natural abilities in performing.
“I had an amazing drama teacher down in Tasmania when I did school down there,” he continues.
“I wasn’t a great student, but being able to do drama and be a class clown and get great marks for it, that sort of put me onto the road that I found. I was lucky enough to have a teacher that really kept me kept me there, even though I wanted to, sort of, fart around and go my own way. She was like, ‘No, I’m going to make you come to class.’”
He later studied at the Victorian College of the Arts.
“For many years after I graduated anytime I got a role I’d send her an email, thanking her for being such an amazing teacher. It got me to where I am.”
Planet Lulin screens 5pm weekdays on ABC ME