Few Australian Sound of Music fans would realise we’ve had a von Trapp child living in our midst for more than two decades.
Nicholas Hammond, the American actor who played eldest boy Friedrich von Trapp in the 1965 film The Sound Of Music, settled in Australia in the mid-80s, and now lives in Sydney with his partner, acclaimed theatre actor Robyn Nevin.
Hammond hopped back on the promotional grind for the film last year in celebration of its 45th anniversary, with he and fellow cast members blitzing American talk shows to discuss their now-distant memories.
Does he ever tire of talking about the film, almost half a century on?
“We are all still very close friends, and that’s the difference — you don’t tire of talking about something when you have such fond memories, not only of the time doing it, but also of the life experiences you’ve shared since then,” he told the Star Observer.
While he described Julie Andrews as “like a favourite auntie,” he’s remained especially close to his fellow von Trapp siblings.
“We see each other all the time. Maybe not all seven of us, but I’ll never go to LA without calling the ones who are there. And when they visit Australia, the first person they see when they get off the plane is me. We’re all there for each other, and always have been — through sickness and health.”
The Sound of Music’s legacy seems especially untainted by scandal, with the von Trapp children’s hijinks rather tame by today’s standards.
“It was a very innocent time. We thought we were being incredibly naughty because at the hotel we stayed at in Austria you could leave your shoes outside your room, and we’d get up and swap everyone’s shoes. We thought we were so wicked!” he laughed.
“Another time we got wet pieces of toilet paper and dropped them off our balcony onto people’s heads. Now you read about the Lindsay Lohans and the Charlie Sheens…”
There was the revelation, on a Sound of Music-themed Oprah episode last year, that eldest von Trapp child Charmain Carr had a crush on Christopher Plummer, her on-screen father.
“She announced that on the show and it was the first we’d heard of it. I remember seeing the look on Christopher’s face, like ‘What?’ Somebody’s gotta confess something on Oprah, though.”
Asked why he thinks the film has lasted as a cultural touchstone since 1965, Hammond suggested it was its enduring ‘comfort food’ quality.
“I saw Rosie O’Donnell being interviewed about the film and she said because her own life was so troubled, this was the fantasy she escaped to. I think that was true for a lot of people.
“It’s got the beautiful princess, the handsome prince, the wicked Nazis — for a child, there’s a real fairytale element to it that must stay with you.”
info: The Sound of Music is out now on digitally remastered Blu-ray and DVD Combo pack.