Celebrity Families

Actor Charlie Clausen reveals the most surprising parts of becoming a dad

''It is amazing what you’ll put up with when you look down at that cute little face''

Charlie Clausen and his wife, Gemma Lee, recently welcomed their first child, Iona Kennedy Lee Clausen.
The Aussie actor is most known for his roles as Jake Harrison in McLeod's Daughters, Alex Kirby in Blue Heelers and Zac McGuire in Home and Away. But, he's also an avid podcaster.
As he dives headfirst in to the joys of being a new father, Charlie has teamed up with The Bachelorette Australia host Osher Günsberg to launch a podcast, called DadPod.
The duo will tackle everything from their preconceived views on fatherhood, to fumbled gender reveal parties, and will offer male insight to the journey of being a parent for the first time.
We caught up with Charlie to find out about his new gig, being a father, and, of course, his thoughts on returning to Home and Away.
Congratulations! In the past month you've welcomed a baby girl and celebrated your fourth wedding anniversary. Is your home just filled with love right now?
We're definitely in the baby bubble. Like, it is amazing what you'll put up with when you look down at that cute little face. The amount of, like, yelling and crying and pooey nappies and all that kind of stuff. We're totally loved up. It's been an amazing five weeks, and the whole journey up to it as well really.
The first four episodes of DadPod were recorded before my daughter was born, so you hear the transition from the hopes and dreams, to the reality of having your baby in the world. Some days it feels like nothing is different, and then other days everything is different. You think, oh I'm a dad now, I'm very responsible and my life will all make sense, but like oh no, I'm the same idiot I've always been except now I've got someone depending on me.
Charlie and his wife, Gemma, are thrilled to be new parents. Image: Instagram @charlie_clausen
Charlie spends time with the gorgeous little Iona. Image: Instagram @charlie_clausen
There were a lot of Home and Away viewers celebrating your baby announcement! You've still got that dedicated fan base there, would you ever return to the Bay?
Yeah, I mean they didn't kill me off [laughs]. It's always a bit harder to return when they've put you six feet under. But when I left I did have a conversation with the producers, saying if they ever want me back don't hesitate to call. It was one of the best jobs I've had on TV and I'm always happy to go back.
If I did go back I'd like to tie it around when Leah's about to marry her next husband, and I could come ruin their wedding. A dramatic return from Vietnam.
Yeah, Leah hasn't had enough romantic drama...
[Laughs] If I could come back as an annoying ex, I'm all for it.
Pip Northeast, Charlie, Ada Nicodemou and Jake Speer film Zac and Leah's wedding on Home and Away. Image: Instagram @charlie_clausen
Since leaving the show you've continued podcasting with Wil Anderson. What made you want to start another one?
I don't know [laughs]. I don't know why I thought that would be a good idea.
Obviously you've paired up with Osher, can you tell us about your friendship?
Osher and I are actually neighbours and when we found out we were having babies so close to each other – about a month apart – we were sharing information about fatherhood anyway.
Osher is very studious, he's always reading books and looking at pictures and stuff, and I'm more of a 'fly by the seat of my pants' kind of guy. So the conversations we were having, I think we both decided this might be something worth putting in to a podcast.
Did you think there was a gap in the market for something like DadPod?
Yeah, that was one thing Osher noticed with all of the books he's been reading, he didn't really find anything targeted towards dads. And also, the unique position we're in, we're both in our 40s and we're having babies sort of late, have careers in the arts, so we're both in the same boat and we thought that could be a unique perspective. Osher's obviously already a dad, a stepdad to Georgia, and that's another element as well.
Osher and Charlie have paired up for DadPod. Image: Instagram @charlie_clausen
Being a new dad, there must be a long list of things that have surprised you?
There's a couple of things. The whole process of labour was something I was really apprehensive about. I had some guy friends who tried to prepare me for it, with the best intentions, but the way they framed it was like it was a really stressful, intense situation and you're kind of helpless. But I actually found the whole thing amazing.
You know, we had a really great doula who guided us through the process. Look, speak to my wife and I'm sure she'd have a different take on it. It was stressful, it was definitely intense and an all-consuming situation. But it was also really amazing, I felt really privileged to be there. Labour, if you're in the moment and if you have a good labour without complications, it can be a really remarkable experience.
The other thing was that nobody prepared me for how talkative babies are. My daughter is making so much noise, she's chirping and grumbling and she's just taken off since the minute she was born. She takes after her dad, she never shuts up. She's beside our bed, so we hear her all night.
Does it blow your mind that there's this little human you created, and she's changing every day?
I remember a friend of mine, years ago, describing it as like getting the best toy for Christmas and then every time you play with it, something new happens. Newborns go through these developmental leaps. My daughter is at six weeks now and already she's started to smile, she's starting to differentiate between mum and dad, you can see she's taking a lot more in. And you get all these little bonuses, I guess, every day.
The other hilarious thing is that their face starts to change. The minute she was born we started laughing, because she looked like a miniature version of me. She had jet black hair, same face, everything about her looked like me. Then, in the last few weeks, her hair has gotten lighter, her nose has changed shape - she's now got the ski jump that her mother has.
Charlie is amazed by how much Iona has changed since birth. Image: Instagram @charlie_clausen
Do you find it cathartic to talk through what you're experiencing on DadPod?
One of the segments we're doing on the show, is we get a more experienced dad to call in. Like Merrick Watts was on episode one. What's reassuring is that every dad does seem to go through a similar experience. Especially throughout pregnancy and the first year of a baby being in the house, it's kind of like you become support staff, it's kind of knowing what your role is and doing that to the best of your abilities, and taking care of yourself as well. We try to approach it with humour and stuff, but I think if this podcast does work to be a support network for dads then that's probably a really good thing.
On Instagram it seems as though a lot of people have reached out to say they're enjoying it...
Yeah the response has been really great! It's always funny with podcasts, it's such a flooded market and whenever you launch something you never know whether it's going to have any cut through. But the DadPod seems to have hit at good time and there's an appetite for it.
It's called DadPod but it's really for parents, and we want to hear from both parents. Maybe there is a lack of representation for dads because babies tend to fall more to the motherhood category. But hopefully people continue to listen and we can continue to grow it.
You can listen to Osher and Charlie's on their new podcast DadPod, available on Acast.