For a bloke whose many on-screen personas appear confident and wise, William McInnes is uncertain and a little troubled about offering advice on how to be a good father.
So he's hoping that's not where the conversation turns this week when he appears in Canberra with two other well-known authors, John Birmingham and Hung Le, in a discussion about what it means to be a father.
Their discussion, entitled Dear Dad, at the ANU's Great Hall, is part of the packed program at the Canberra's Writers Festival which features such luminaries as conservationist Bob Brown, ex-PM Kevin Rudd, and award-winning British journalist Simon Winchester.
"I'm not a great one for handing out parenting advice because the whole idea about what it's like to be a father now is very different to when I was growing up," he said.
"That being said, some of the things my Dad said and did were pretty odd and quirky so I suspect my kids feel exactly the same way about me."
An accomplished author, actor and story-teller, Mr McInnes has a comfortable and easy-going manner which will endear himself to the festival's audiences.
Pull up a chair and he'll tell you a yarn, usually a funny one, and most are about his Dad who is the centrepiece of his latest book called Fatherhood, and some about his two kids, whom he adores.
Mr McInnes lost his wife, talented Australian film director, writer and animator Sarah Watt, to breast cancer in 2011. At the time he described it as "unbearably hard and you just want to jump in a hole. But mostly you just get up and get on with it."
He later described his final few months with his dying wife as racked with doubts - "doubts that I did enough, was good enough and cared enough" - and it's a similar sentiment that he now expresses about his success as a sole "hybrid" parent.
We were shooting [the film] in the House of Reps, saw someone I recognised and thought to myself: 'Gee, Peter Costello's put on a bit of condition'. Then I realised I was looking in a mirror.William McInnes
"I think good parents always have doubts about whether they're good parents," he said.
"But it's probably best not to beat yourself up about it too much; most kids are pretty resilient. If your kids talk to you, respect you and like you, then you're almost over the line."
The youngest of five McInnes children with the two boys "book-ending" three strong-willed sisters, he described his own father as "a man of his time".
"My father was Welsh and my mother was Irish so it was a pretty loud family," he said.
"But loud in a logistics and instructional way - like "get to bed and make sure you brush your teeth" - not in a chatty way.
"If I was too chatty, my parents got suspicious and ask what I wanted."
He's delighted that both his children, now in their 20s, appear happy, healthy and well-adjusted.
"I spent a lot of time with them, which I really value now. Every parent says the same thing: time just races by."
A regular visitor to Canberra, he was here earlier this year playing a politician in the upcoming Rachel Griffiths drama series Black Bitch.
"We were shooting [the film] in the House of Reps, saw someone I recognised and thought to myself: 'Gee, Peter Costello's put on a bit of condition'. Then I realised I was looking in a mirror."