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Shortland Street’s ‘bad dad’ Will Wallace reveals his nice side

The Kiwi actor, who plays Glen Rickman, is a bit of a softy off screen.

He may play a manipulative alcoholic father on screen, but Shortland Street star Will Wallace (45) is nothing like his shady television alter-ego.

In fact, as the Weekly finds out, he’s a big softy at heart, especially when the topic of his favourite movie comes up.

Will’s picks are certainly not films that his bad dad character would sit through.

“My favourite romance movie is anything by writer-director Richard Curtis so Love Actually or Notting Hill, and have you seen About Time?” asks Will before chuckling, “This conversation is definitely not Glen!”

Will’s character Glen Rickman on the hit TVNZ 2 weeknight soap is certainly more sinister than sweet, unlike the real man. The softly spoken Dannevirke native with the love of mushy movies is also a dad – to Noah (6), and three-year-old Mila – and a devoted husband to Zoe Carafice (38).

His love story with his Italian-American wife started 10 years ago when the two were set up on a blind date at a friend’s birthday dinner.

Will recalls, “I’m quite a shy person so I was trying to make jokes and charm her. I noticed she wasn’t eating any of the meat on the table so I made a joke, but she must have been like, ‘Who is this guy? And why does he keep insulting me?’”

Will enjoys the challenge of playing villainous dad Glen Rickman on the TV drama.

Luckily, his not-so-suave moves didn’t put off his lady love. After hanging out with friends a couple of times, the lovebirds eventually “found our way to each other” with the actor proposing on the anniversary of their first date together two years later.

“I always wanted to be a dad but when I finally met Zoe, only then did it become a reality,” says Will, who also appeared on comedy-drama Step Dave. “As soon as Noah was born, it was like a flick of a switch, like he has always been in my life.”

The hands-on father says his jobs – acting and teaching at Unitec – allow him to help get the kids organised in the morning as well as fed, bathed and to bed in the evenings. He credits Zoe’s equally flexible schedule as a landscape designer and their tag-team tactics for making the household run smoothly.

“I can be a stay-at-home dad when I need to be so it gives me a good understanding of how hard it is for the partner at home, as well as for the one working. And it’s the same with Zoe.”

So how does the normal Auckland-based family man scout out such menacing roles, like his parts in Underbelly and The Cult?

“They find me and I think its because of how I look,” grins Will, “I have light blue eyes and a resting bad face and I’m not afraid to play those characters – in fact, I enjoy playing them.

“I’ve either been cast as the negative character or as a police officer. Two extremes: the lawbreaker or the law keeper. But the lawbreaker is fun,” he smiles, adding that while he prefers the challenge of being the villain, he did love portraying a detective in local crime mini-series Harry.

“I got to tell Sam Neill off,” he laughs. “How often do you get to do that?”

It also makes for a bit of fun for the rest of his family. While his brood are too young to watch him on screen, he has staunch supporters in Zoe and mum Alison, who are both happy to set the record straight about Will’s character.

“Most of Mum’s friends know I’ve been acting for a long time but she gets people who don’t know her so well stop her in the supermarket to ask, ‘Is that your son on the TV? Is he that nasty man?’ She says, ‘Yes, that’s him, that’s Will, but he’s not like that in real life!’ And they respond with, ‘Oh, we know… what is he really like though?’”

Someone who may not be so easily convinced are his children, who are still trying to work out what daddy does for a living.

“It’s hard to explain to a little kid that I pretend to be other people,” tells Will.

“I’ll probably show Noah something like Step Dave first because I don’t want him to watch a negative version of me as his first experience of seeing me on screen – options are limited, after all!”

Words: Danielle Lagos

WATCH: Angela Bloomfied leaves Shortland Street after run in with Will’s character

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