Kevin Smith was an actor who could do it all; from brooding like Brando in a Tennessee Williams play, through the swords and sandals of Xena, to the gentle, romantic lead of Double Booking, and self-parody in Love Mussel. The pieces collected here represent snippets of a career cruelly cut short (he died in a film-set accident in 2002). Writer James Griffin pays tribute.
Kevin Smith was the multi-talented actor who appeared in a host of television shows, starting with eighties soap Gloss. He also starred in three tele-movies as maverick private investigator John Lawless. His feature films include period melodrama Desperate Remedies, and offbeat drama Channelling Baby.
Desperate Remedies is high-camp Cannes-selected melodrama from directors Stewart Main and Peter Wells, set in an imaginary 19th-century town called Hope. ‘Draper of distinction' Dorothea Brooks is desperate to save her sister Rose from the clutches of opium, sex and the dastardly Fraser. She begs hunky migrant Lawrence Hayes to marry Rose. Lawrence has his eyes on Dorothea however, and he has competition from malevolent politician Poyser (who has made her an attractive offer), as well as Brooks' sultry lover. Sumptuous and ripe, The Piano this definitely ain't!
A TV network hires actor Kevin Smith to front a documentary about a town divided by an unusual discovery. Gooey Duck — a shellfish with reputed aphrodisiac qualities — has appeared off Ureroa. The quota is owned by a local couple but the rest of the town, big business, the government and the local iwi all have their own ideas. Smith's involvement gets complicated when he innocently consumes the mollusk while watching Prime Minister Jenny Shipley on TV. The medium, celebrity, small town NZ, gender, politics and penises are all satirised.
Lawless saw Kevin Smith in one of his biggest roles: as undercover cop turned private investigator John Lawless. The character's career arc was told across three tele-movies. In this self-titled debut, Lawless struggles with divided loyalties while working for a dodgy drug lord (Joel Tobeck). Next thing, a robbery leaves Lawless framed by the good guys. This stylish Kiwi take on American crime shows won good reviews and a stash of awards, including gongs for Tobeck, co-star Angela Dotchin, director Chris Martin-Jones and best drama programme.
The second Lawless tele-movie sees ex-cop John Lawless (Kevin Smith) drinking too much while working as a bouncer in a downmarket bar. Then former crime-solving partner Jodie Keen (Angela Dotchin) enlists his help, to investigate the case of an incarcerated American (C. Thomas Howell) who may have been framed. Someone is attacking hitchhikers, and the creepy finale sees Jodie using herself as bait, before getting trapped in a barn with a murderer. Evening Post reviewer Sarah Daniell found "the whole shebang was executed with wit and style".
Away Laughing was an early sketch comedy show from Wellington company Gibson Group. In this episode from the second series, skaters, spies, panelbeaters and Buck Shelford are the butt of jokes. Kevin Smith and Murray Keane play two Australians mocking New Zealand place names; a trio of firefighters make idiots of themselves in a classroom; ingratiating priest Phineas O'Diddle (Danny Mulheron) arrives at the pub in time to join in on Hori's birthday; and onetime Telecom promo man Gordon McLauchlan interviews two gorillas about Telecom's privatisation.
In the last of a trilogy of tele-movies, private investigators John Lawless (Kevin Smith) and Jodie Keane (Shortland Street's Angela Dotchin) seek the truth behind an apparent suicide. Their client is visiting mystery woman Lana Vitale (a strong performance by American Jennifer Rubin) who wants to know why her husband is dead. For Lawless, the trial soon leads to romance, intrigue, plus a shady nightclub/ porn operator (singer Frankie Stevens). This Kiwi take on American crime shows includes an appearance by Snakeskin actor Dean O'Gorman.
Billy Williams (Cliff Curtis) is enthusiastic and likable, but a bit hopeless. When the driving force behind the Waimatua School 75th Jubilee is killed in an accident, Billy takes over - determined to prove himself. Meanwhile, the arrival of ex-international rugby player Max Seddon (Kevin Smith) forces his wife Pauline (Theresa Healey) to question the choices she has made in her life. This affectionate comedy about small-town NZ life was the first feature directed by actor Michael Hurst, most well-known for his role on the TV series Hercules.
Beneath her twinset, repressed housewife Gwyneth (Mandy McMullin) is close to the edge: of attacking the dishwasher, and giving in to lust (thanks to neighbour Kevin Smith). Especially so after learning the husband has done the dirty on her. Based on a Fiona Farrell story, Mon Desir offers an arresting blend of fantasy, satire and domestic tragedy. Writer/director Nicky Marshall scratches under the fingernails of Kiwi small towns, to reveal “what happens behind the facade of wholesome goodness and normality”. Mon Desir was chosen for Cannes 'Un Certain Regard' section.
Double Booking was a one-off comedy about a bloke, Brett (Kevin Smith), reluctantly celebrating his stag night, and a woman, Jane (Theresa Healey) who is less than happy at her hen's party. When the titular double booking happens their paths collide. Brett and Jane are star-struck at the Ocean Moon restaurant; wedding days are threatened and much ado occurs. The cast is a virtual Gloss reunion. It was made as a comedy pilot for TVNZ. A series didn't ensue, but it won James Griffin a Best Comedy Script gong at the 1999 NZ Film and TV Awards.
Created by writer Greg McGee, Marlin Bay was one of the first primetime drama series from South Pacific Pictures. It follows the events of a far-north resort and casino; a number of well-known actors made up the cast of earthy locals, wealth foreigners and city weekenders, including Ilona Rodgers, Don Selwyn, Andy Anderson and Katie Wolfe. Kevin Smith received a 1995 Best Supporting Actor nod for his role as villain Paul Cosic. In this episode the swarthy Cosic cooks up an illegal smuggling scheme to diversify a farm's income stream.
A dark and mystery-filled drama about a 70s hippy (Danielle Cormack) who falls in love with a Vietnam vet (Kevin Smith). But has fate brought them together, only in order to drive them apart? And what exactly happened to their child? This twist-filled tale of seances, damaged people, and conflicting versions of truth marked the directorial debut of short filmmaker Christine Parker. At the 1999 New Zealand film awards, Channelling Baby was nominated in six categories, including best actress and best original screenplay.
Lana Coc-Kroft and her all female Extreme Team swing, fall and paddle their way through this episode from their primetime, extreme sports TV series. There's a guest appearance from actor Kevin Smith who enthusiastically investigates bridge swinging with Jayne Mitchell (near Masterton). Lana forgets her fear of heights for long enough to take a tandem sky dive and check out the sport of sky surfing — and Emma Barry and Katrina Misa keep their feet much closer to the ground, but get them wet, on a canoe safari down the Whanganui River.
City Life screened from 1996 to 1998 and made a direct appeal to New Zealand's Gen X apartment-dwelling demographic. Following the lives of a tight-knit group of friends, and featuring racy shots of Auckland's K-Road and nightlife set to contemporary NZ pop music, City Life was NZ's answer to Melrose Place. In this excerpt from the first episode, the friends are thrown into conflict when one of their own (played by Kevin Smith) decides to marry outside the circle. Complications ensue when Smith shares a brief, but notorious, screen kiss with Charles Mesure.
This series was a mixed plate of reality TV, cooking show and first stage anthropology. The (Kiwi) concept is simple: presenter Suzanne Paul invades a house with a camera crew, while restauranteur Varick Neilson cooks the inhabitants some dinner. This early episode features the under-stocked flat of a group of Auckland twenty-somethings. When the week's mystery dinner guest turns out to be ‘New Zealand's sexiest man' (voted by TV Guide readers repeatedly) Kevin Smith, the female flatmates applaud.
"I get around. I know everything. Except your name." Kevin Smith made his television debut (in a speaking part) on this episode from the third series of Gloss, playing smirking DJ and man-about-town Damien Vermeer. Keen to rise above his working class origins, the character sets his sights on rich brat Chelsea Redfern within moments of meeting her. Smith left work at Christchurch's Court theatre for the role, when the decision was made to up the show's male quotient. Mikey Havoc also appears in this scene, as a member of his real-life band Push Push.