Sophie Hambleton's family goals 'We're chasing our dreams'

The Westside actress and her actor/musician partner say every day with daughter Marley Rose is an adventure

By Sharon Stephenson
No one will be surprised if wee Marley Rose Hambleton-Knowles chooses a career in aviation. After all, the Wellington toddler, now 18 months old, had travelled on more than 40 flights by the time she was six months old!
It's all thanks to her parents' careers – her mother is actress Sophie Hambleton, 38, best known for playing the hilarious Carol O'Driscoll in TV's Westside for six seasons, while her father Tom Knowles, 31, is a musician/actor who recently released his debut album.
"Marley Rose must be one of the most travelled babies in the country," laughs Sophie.
The couple moved back to Wellington, where they both attended drama school, before their daughter was born.
"Tom's family is from Blenheim and my parents are based in Wellington," says Sophie, whose father is veteran Kiwi actor Peter Hambleton.
"We're so glad for their support and we couldn't travel to chase our creative dreams if it wasn't for their help."
Lucky Marley Rose has plenty of entertainment on hand with her creative mum, plus grandparents Peter and Aileen.
That is especially true now Sophie is about to head to Auckland to star in the 10th series of TVNZ 1's The Brokenwood Mysteries, which starts filming soon.
She's in good company – both Tom and her father Peter are about to appear on our screens this month in the ninth series of the popular murder-mystery show.
Sophie's dad Peter appears in The Brokenwood Mysteries...
"Peter and I starred together in an episode of Brokenwood in 2015," recalls Tom. "And now our characters have been brought back for another episode. This time, it's a musical-themed episode."
Is it strange acting alongside his father-in-law?
"Not at all," says Tom. "Peter's an absolute professional. Besides, when we're on set, he's not my father-in-law – he fully embodies his character. But both Sophie and I do ask him for advice, which he's happy to give."
... as does Tom, seen here with Torum Heng.
The couple, who say they've always wanted children, admit their priorities have changed since having their adorable daughter.
"Before, we were both career-focused, but now we plan our work around Marley Rose," says Sophie.
It's still a constant juggle balancing a toddler with job commitments, particularly when they're often required to be in different cities.
"I was touring New Zealand as Shrek in Shrek The Musical when Marley Rose was five days old," tells Tom. "But when she was old enough, she and Sophie travelled with me. That's why it's so important that when we are home, we spend as much time with her as possible.
"Every day with Marley Rose is an adventure and a lesson, and we've become very familiar with places such as Chipmunks and Awesome Bounce, where you can jump on an inflatable castle and bounce your troubles away!"
Earlier in the year, the family moved into a rented flat in the northern Wellington suburb of Ngaio and say they're enjoying putting down roots.
"As actors, we've lived out of suitcases for years," says Sophie. "This is the first time we've been able to do things such as plant a vege garden and really make a home."
It's also been a chance for Tom to finally unpack the shipping containers of treasures he's had nowhere to put for years.
"I'm a bit of a hoarder and love collecting things such as eight functioning guitars and four or five other guitars I'm planning to turn into planter boxes!" he laughs.
And then there's the many brass instruments Tom is going to convert into lamps.
"I don't have any building or carpentry skills, but my mother is creative and I love a bargain. So I've been watching lots of YouTube videos on how to turn all my stuff into cool things!"
While they're happy nesting, Sophie is also looking forward to filming in Auckland, where she'll reconnect with fellow Westside actors Antonia Prebble and Esther Stephens, who both had their babies shortly before her.
Sophie gets motherhood tips from Westside co-stars Esther and Antonia (right).
"We've stayed really close, and we have a chat group where they give me advice and I can ask all sorts of questions because, as a new mother, sometimes I have no idea what I'm doing," Sophie confides. "It really helps to have Antonia and Esther just a message away."
Sophie and Tom met in Wellington in 2017, when they were both appearing in different plays at Circa Theatre.
"We had mutual friends and had seen each other's plays," recalls Sophie. "I actually went to Tom's opening night, which was on his birthday, and that's when we got together."
"I call it my birthday romance," jokes Tom.
He popped the question while on holiday in Queenstown two years later.
"I had this whole romantic proposal planned, but Sophie got stuck in Auckland filming Westside, so I spent most of the time in Queenstown on my own. When she finally made it down, I took her to a lakeside spot, but it was full of fly fishermen, so it wasn't very romantic. And I didn't get down on one knee because it was stony and I've got bad knees!"
While the global pandemic threw out their plans for an "epic wedding", when it does happen, it will be more of a music festival with their many musician friends, rather than a formal wedding.
"We might have to wait until Marley Rose is old enough to work at the wedding to save on staff costs," laughs Tom.
For now, though, they're planning a holiday to Europe and more flights for their well-travelled daughter!
The ninth series of The Brokenwood Mysteries premieres 8.30pm Sunday, 23 July on TVNZ 1.
  • undefined: Sharon Stephenson

read more from