Star actor Shane Cortese married his dancing partner on a TV show and is father to two young sons. He became a grandfather a year ago via a daughter he didn’t know he had until she was 15.

1. A journalist once said you "don't do deep and meaningful" - is that true?

Sometimes I don't have a filter but I'm usually very calculated in what I say. I'm very guarded around people. Yeah, there was an incident (that sparked it). We were dealing with my older son Kees' autism. We were learning how to accept it and we hadn't labelled him or said anything publicly about it and it was published on the cover of a magazine, as if I'd talked to them. It was very upsetting. I was travelling with our band and we stopped at the Bombay service station for a coffee and my mate said "you're in the magazines again". My heart just stopped. We haven't done a magazine story since. I'm not expecting sympathy - we had sold stories in the past - but I thought it was a two-way street. We let these people into our family life and let them get to know our kids and then they did that.

2. Are you in on Paul Henry's joke that you're at the opening of an envelope?

No. I mean we know each other well and I enjoy him. That's been a running joke since 2005 but I don't frock up to go to many things these days. Only charity stuff, really. I was at Selaks Roast Day last week and (chef) Annabelle White came up and she didn't say hello or anything. She just said "I have to have a photo for Paul". It's a bit frustrating.


3. Describe your childhood.

I was born in Wellington but grew up in Tauranga. My parents split when I was about 5 and we'd have school holidays with Dad. I had great male role models around me, some excellent teachers at Tauranga Boys College and mum remarried when I was 10. In sixth form Mum moved to Palmerston North. Was I a hit with the girls? Well, I spent more time at Tauranga Girls than Boys. In the First XV they called me PB for pretty boy. I've never shied away from conversations or associations with girls. I find them gorgeously fascinating and beautifully frustrating. I love women. Always have done and always will.

4. What was it like being at the centre of a scandal when you and (now wife) Nerida were partners on Dancing with the Stars but were both in other relationships?

We were so busy concentrating on our dances that it didn't really concern us that much. I do remember travelling across the harbour bridge and Radio Sport was wondering if we were (a couple) or not. That was a bit weird. But we knew what was going on and it wasn't what people assumed. If you'd done something wrong then you'd want to stay home and pull the duvet over your head but we hadn't. At our wedding - we got married at Avalon where the show had been made - the producer said "you two were the last to know". And we were. But that's all nine years ago now.

5. Why did you wait so long to get married?

Yeah, I did get married really late. I was 41. Dad told me to "hang in there, son" and I did. I hung on til 25, then 30, then 35. He was pretty proud I got to 40. I liked the idea of marriage but I didn't want to jump into anything.

6. How is fatherhood treating you?

It's pretty cool but it's nothing like what I expected. I thought it would be easy and simple and kicking balls around and "yahoo" and "Dad's the greatest" but it's discipline and it's colds and being sick and it's bloody hard work. I've got my two boys and just before we got married Tammy came into our lives. She's got a 1-year-old now so I'm a granddad too. When Tammy talked to me about being her dad I was just learning to be a dad with Kees. It took some getting used to but in a really good way. Now she and Nerida are thick as thieves and (second son) Jett, who's only 3, is an uncle already. I'm G-Dad.


7. What do you want to teach your children?

I'd love to teach them a really good work ethic, to be respectful of other people and things and I'd love my two boys to have a great brotherly relationship. It would make my day if they'd be each other's best man at their weddings.

8. Does Jett connect better with Kees than others?

He does, it's fascinating. I can see already that he will be a big protector for Kees. They are really on a level when they play and laugh - it's brilliant to watch. Kees is very high on the autism spectrum, he has a tutor and is doing well at school. I'm no different from any other Kiwi bloke. When your first child is a son you go "ohhh". I got drunk for two days. And you just think he's going to be an All Black. That's what you're seeing at the bottom of the Peroni glass, your son running on to Eden Park in an All Black jersey. That's probably not going to happen for Kees but he'll be an All Black in other areas.

9. Did you find it difficult to accept his diagnosis?

Yeah, I did. Nerida had to talk me around. She saw the red flags and drove the process around finding out what they meant. For other people out there in the same situation, I'd say acceptance is key and the first step to making sure that your child is happier three or four years down the track. We made some changes at home and immediately you could see the difference in Kees.

10. What is love to you?

Love's changed since I had children. It changes from a relationship with your wife where you're a team and have a connection and love each other then all of a sudden there's a cerebral shift and now it's my boys looking at me, or "I love you, dad". It's when they're sick and you are their comfort.

11. Has your career turned out to be everything you wanted?

I remember wanting to go to England and become an actor and I did and it was fantastic. Then I wanted to work in the West End and I got that. Wanted to get leading roles in New Zealand and I did. And now I want to play a leading role in an Australian drama. There's always a new goal to set so at the moment it isn't everything I want. But it's a great life.

12. What is failure to you?

I fear mediocrity and lack of effort. Failure I don't fear. It means you have tried. But if you're just average at something then you have to push yourself harder. You can't just settle for middle of the pack.