Danielle Cormack has showcased her naturalistic, seemingly effortless acting style on both sides of the Tasman. After roles in TV soaps Gloss and Shortland Street, she began a run of big screen starring roles — Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, The Price of Milk and Via Satellite (playing twins). On Australian TV, Cormack has starred as a prisoner (Wentworth), crime lord (Underbelly: Razor) and barrister (Rake). Read the full biography

Danielle Cormack is a great asset with her appealing performance. She is the centre around which Sinclair weaves a tangled tale of birth, marriages and deaths. Screen International critic Allan Hunter, on Topless Women Talk About Their Lives

Screenography

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Shortland Street - First Episode

1992, As: Alison Raynor - Television

This iconic serial drama is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the staff and patients of Shortland Street Hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, it screens five nights a week on TV2. The show has screened internationally, and is by far New Zealand's longest running TV drama (though not the first ‘soap’ — that honour goes to Close to Home, which played twice a week from 1975 - 1983). Characters and lines from Shortland Street have entered the culture, most famously “you’re not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!”, which features in this first episode.

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Topless Women Talk about Their Lives

1997, As: Liz - Film

A group of 20-somethings revolving around pregnant Liz (Danielle Cormack) confront a Generation X medley of 'births, deaths, and marriages' in Harry Sinclair’s debut feature, developed from the eponymous TV3 series. They experience, "the agony of failed love and ambiguous love, the agony of loneliness, the ecstasy of sex and the discovery of maturity" (Australian critic Andrew L Urban). In this excerpt from the well-received film the cast faces vexing coathangers, skirts, rubber gloves and panic attacks. NSFW caution: features actual Teutonic topless women.

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Shortland Street - Highlights from the first 15 years

1992 - 1993, As: Nurse Alison Rayner - Television

Shortland Street is a fast-paced serial drama set in an eponymous inner city Auckland hospital. A South Pacific Pictures production, the iconic show is based around the births, deaths and marriages of the staff, family and patients. Screening five days a week on TV2 it is New Zealand’s longest running drama. Characters and lines from the show have entered the culture, most famously, "you're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata!". This 2007 promo, set to the theme song, collects together highlights from the first 15 years of the show.

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Topless Women Talk about Their Lives - Episode One

1995, As: Liz - Television

This is the first four minute episode of the late-night TV3 micro-series, written and directed by Harry Sinclair. As wannabe air hostess Liz (Danielle Cormack) and her aspiring scriptwriter boyfriend Ant (Ian Hughes) are getting ready for a night-out, the hapless Ant seems oblivious to the fact that he’s wearing out his welcome — and the hairbrush remedy for his 'itchy mouth' does little to heighten his allure. Meanwhile, Neil (Joel Tobeck) ponders one of the great male mysteries. The soundtrack comes courtesy of Flying Nun act The JPS Experience’s ‘Into You’.

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A Game with No Rules

1993, As: Vera - Short Film

A trio of future Kiwi screen stars smoke, smoulder, steal — and worse — in Scott Reynolds' serpentine short noir. Kane (Marton Csokas) and his Zambesi-clad woman on the side (Danielle Cormack) set about ripping off Kane’s rich wife (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) with bloody results. Writer/director Scott Reynolds and longtime partner in crime, cinematographer Simon Raby, serve notice of their talents — and inspirations — with heady lighting, deliberately shonky back projection, and opening titles right out of Hitchcock. Muso Greg Johnson supplies the horns.

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The Price of Milk

2000, As: Lucinda - Film

Lucinda lives a fairytale life with dairy farmer Rob and his 117 cows. Driving to town one day, she hits an old Māori woman who runs off, unharmed. Some time later, Lucinda decides to test Rob's love for her by trying to make him angry. He passes her tests until a quilt goes missing from their bed. Lucinda spots this on the bed of the old woman she nearly ran over and desperate to get it back, she makes a bargain with her. But the price is high. The Moscow Symphony Orchestra is the soundtrack to director Harry Sinclair's second feature.

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Topless Women Talk about Their Lives - Episode Two

1995, As: Liz - Television

In the second episode of Harry Sinclair’s late night TV3 micro-series, Liz (Danielle Cormack) and Neil (Joel Tobeck) watch the sun rise from a Karangahape road carpark; but, romantic as this could be, it seems Neil has no more chance of keeping up with Liz than her less than inspiring boyfriend Ant (Ian Hughes). Meanwhile, back at home, Ant is making scones and entertaining some random visitors — larger than life drag queens (and K Road identities) Buckwheat and Bertha. But baking is a step too far for a hungover Liz ... and her mother is on the phone.

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Maddigan's Quest - Episode One

2005, As: Maddie - Television

This children's post-apocalyptic fantasy series follows a circus troupe on their quest to save the city of Solis. Conceived by Margaret Mahy and developed by Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang, the award-winning series was produced by South Pacific Pictures. A young Rose McIver (future Tinker Bell in US TV show Once Upon a Time) led the cast, acting with a caravan of Kiwi veterans. Māori elements mixed with rural West Auckland sets in the ‘solar punk’ rendering of the future. Here, Garland (McIver) faces tragedy but meets two boys (and a baby) with magical powers.

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Perfect Creature

2006, As: Pregnant Woman - Film

Perfect Creature is set in an immaculately realised alternative colonial New Zealand where steam powers cobble-stoned cities, and zeppelins cruise the skies. A race of benevolent vampires preside over the spiritual life of humanity. When one of them turns rogue, a manhunt begins. Starring international actors (Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows) Perfect Creature was the second feature for director Glenn Standring. It was the first NZ film picked up for distribution by a major Hollywood studio (Twentieth Century Fox), who ultimately dithered with its release.

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The Call Up

1995, As: Stacey - Television

Blessed with a topnotch cast, this hour long drama chronicles the final 48 hours of leave before three soldiers head off to Bosnia. One soldier is forced to share a car with the man who caused his demotion; the trio go on to use their break for various encounters with lovers, families and strangers. Based on a story by Richard Lymposs, whose experiences helped inspire 1986 teen rebel movie Queen City Rocker, The Call Up was shown as part of the debut season of one-off Kiwi dramas which screened in primetime, under the Montana Sunday Theatre mantle.

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The Last Tattoo

1994, As: Molly - Film

This 1994 ‘home front noir’ is set in World War II Wellington, where the plots — a murdered marine, exploited working girls and gonorrhea — spread amidst the invasion of US soldiers stationed at Paekakariki. Kerry Fox (An Angel at My Table) is a public health nurse who becomes romantically linked with the US investigating officer (Tony Goldwyn — Ghost, TV's Scandal) while pursuing the STDs and the truth. They’re supported by Oscar-winning US veterans Rod Steiger and Robert Loggia. John Reid (Middle Age Spread) directs, from a Keith Aberdein script.

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Via Satellite

1998, As: Chrissy / Carol - Film

The first movie written and directed by playwright Anthony McCarten is a portrait of a family melting down under the media spotlight. The comedy/drama stars Danielle Cormack in two roles — as a swimmer on the cusp of Olympic glory, and as the twin sister back home, looking on as her family descends into spats and bickering as they find the pressure to perform too much to bear. Via Satellite showcases a topline cast, including Tim Balme, Rima Te Wiata, and a scene-stealing and heavily-pregnant Jodie Dorday, who won an NZ TV and Film Award for her work.

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Channelling Baby

1999, As: Bunnie - Film

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 bought 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.

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Separation City

2009, As: Pam - Film

Separation City is a comedy-drama about the complications that ensue as two marriages collapse. Men's groups and midlife crises in contemporary Wellington make up the world in which the multi-national cast explores, in screenwriter Tom Scott's words, "biology and human nature". This feature marks the first solo film script by political cartoonist Scott, who honed his writing skills on a run of TV projects during the two-decade journey to bring the film to the screen. Successful commercials director, Australian-based Kiwi Paul Middleditch, directs.

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Mamma

2010, As: Mamma - Music video

Soul songstress Hollie Smith looks gorgeous in a fierce kind of way in this big bold video clip from director Preston McNeil of Mo Fresh Productions. Auckland bars Hotel DeBrett and Sale St gleam in a riot of primary colour, clowns and crime; and there are celebrity cameo performances galore, including music TV hosts Shavaughn Ruakere, Nick Dwyer and Helena McAlpine, and actors Danielle Cormack and Oliver Driver.

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A Song of Good

2008, As: Rachel Cradle - Film

Gary Cradle (Gareth Reeves) wants to go straight but has to face up to a drug habit, family dysfunction, and the burden of guilt over a past sin. Mixing up dollops of dry wit and violence, Gregory King's redemptive recovery yarn debuted at Rotterdam Film Festival. The feature (King's second) won Qantas Film and TV Awards for best feature (under $1 million), and Virginia Loane's camera work, and nominations for actors Reeves and Ian Mune. In February 2009 the film gained media attention after being made available to watch online for free for 24 hours.

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Snap

1994, As: Felicity - Short Film

A young couple (Danielle Cormack and Erik Thomson) wander into a photographic studio, where the owner seems to have the power to bring another age to life. Chosen for many international festivals including Clermont-Ferrand, Snap marked another collaboration for filmmakers Stuart McKenzie and Neil Pardington. Inventive and sly, the film plays like a twisted episode of The Twilight Zone, one in which the lead-up to the shock finale provides at least half the fun. Peter Hambleton steals the show, as the oddball photographer with Cormack in his sights.

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Overnight

1995, As: Kelly - Television

In this award-winning Montana Sunday Theatre drama, Cliff Curtis plays Jim, a grungy rocker who can’t (and doesn’t want to) commit to a straight life with his misguidedly hopeful girlfriend Sina (Sarah Smuts-Kennedy). A night of emotional turmoil in the city ensues as Sina does her best to avoid the reality of her situation (as well as home invasion and Jim’s dodgy manager). Fiona Samuel's darkly funny script and top-notch casting underpin this look at the not-so-delicate nature of relationships amongst a bevy of Gen-X Aucklanders.

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Intrepid Journeys - Syria and Jordan (Danielle Cormack)

2004, Presenter - Television

Actor Danielle Cormack travels through Syria (an Arabic country associated with US president George Bush's infamous "axis of evil") and Jordan and discovers a different reality to western perceptions of the Middle East. Cormack engages with countries awash with ancient history, warm people and picturesque vistas. Highlights of Cormack's trip include natural wonders - "I've always wanted to float in The Dead Sea ... it was so salty, like a tin of anchovies in one hit" - and the man-made spectacular of Petra, the ancient city carved out of stone.

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Gloss

1987 - 1990, As: Tania - Television

Gloss was a popular Kiwi television drama series made by TVNZ that screened in the late 80s; it combined a wealthy family, the Redferns, with a lucrative high-fashion magazine business. Yuppies, shoulder-pads and méthode champenoise abound in this cult "glamour soap". New Zealanders wanted to see themselves as less bottom of the world and more "here we come and we are sailing" (as the infamous Cup campaign song warbled), and Gloss was just what the era demanded.

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Maddigan's Quest

2005, As: Maddie - Television

This children's post-apocalyptic fantasy series follows a circus troupe, Maddigan's Fantasia on their quest to save the world's only remaining city, Solis. The show was created by children's writer Margaret Mahy, developed for television by writers Gavin Strawhan and Rachel Lang for South Pacific Pictures, who produced the 13 x 30min series for TV3. Award-winning and successfully exported, it marked a debut lead performance from Rose McIver (future Tinker Bell in US TV show Once Upon a Time) acting with Michael Hurst, Peter Daube, Tim Balme and Danielle Cormack. 

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Stringer

2005, Actor

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East West 101

2011, As: Angela Travis

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The Strip

2002 - 2003, As: Amy - Television

The Strip centres around 30-something Melissa (Luanne Gordon), who sheds a legal career to set up a male strip revue. Created by Alan Brash, The Strip played to a certain demographic's desire for ogling naked men (warmed up by 1987 play Ladies Night and 1997 film The Full Monty), but with a focus on female characters, as Melissa juggles business with raising a teenage daughter. Taking cues from Ally McBeal (with fantasy sequences to match) the Gibson Group tale of g-strings, feminism and red light romance screened for two series on TV3 and sold internationally.

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Legend of the Seeker

2008 - 2010, As: Shota

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Topless Women Talk about Their Lives (Series)

1995, Liz - Television

The feature film Topless Women Talk about Their Lives evolved out of this late night, low budget, TV3 micro-series about the lives, loves and travails of a group of 20-something Aucklanders. It was written and directed by former Front Lawn member Harry Sinclair with a cast including Danielle Cormack and Joel Tobeck. Each four minute episode was shot over a weekend with actors not sighting scripts until just before the camera rolled. Music from Flying Nun bands featured prominently; the women remained fully clothed despite the tantalising titular promise.

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Rake

2010 - 2014, As: Scarlet Meagher

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Booth

2012, As: Kirsten Solti

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Underbelly: Razor

2011, As: Kate Leigh

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Redemption

2010, Costume Designer

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The Cult

2009 - 2009, As: Cynthia

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Xena: Warrior Princess

1995 - 2001, As: Ephiny / Samsara

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Rude Awakenings

2007, As: Dimity Rush

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Siam Sunset

1999, As: Grace

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Wentworth

2013 - 2014, As: Bea Smith

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Buzzy Bee and Friends

2009 - 2013, As: Elle-Gator