Jed Brophy fell into acting while training as a physical education teacher. Since then he has played an eclectic mix of roles, from the straight-talking (policemen, soldiers) to the out of this world (zombies, heroic dwarves, villainous druids).
Brophy began acting in the mid 1980s, while studying at drama school Toi Whakaari. Since then his theatre roles have included the psychopathic Begbie in Trainspotting, Picasso in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, and joining his son Riley in An Unseasonable Fall of Snow. One time, during Gary Henderson's hit play Skin Tight, he dislocated his arm. "I just carried on — the other actor didn’t even realise that I'd been knocked out".
His screen debut was in 1988, as a police negotiator in Small War on the Edge of Town, a National Film Unit drama about an outsider who lives in a housetruck. Later he played screen brother to British star Robert Powell in WWl Gallipoli tale Chunuk Bair, then enjoyed a lead role in hour-long Gaylene Preston TV drama Married. Brophy played Kevin, a young man who shows more interst in partying than his marriage.
Braindead (1992) marked the first of many projects with director Peter Jackson. Brophy wore special harnesses and did two-hour makeup sessions in order to play a zombie whose two halves did not always work in synch. Despite being his first encounter with prosthetic makeup, it proved to be "one of the most enjoyable shoots of anything I’ve done". Brophy went on to a brief but memorable role in Heavenly Creatures (as a suitor for Pauline Parker’s affections), played one of the boat crew in King Kong, and did motion capture work on The Adventures of Tintin.
Brophy first read JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings at age seven. For Peter Jackson's epic movie adaptation, the actor spent 14 months on location. Altogether he played seven roles, including elves, Ringwraiths, and in the second film, hobbit hungry orc Snaga and warg rider Sharku — "the only person who kicks Aragorn's butt". Off-screen, he was helping train the horses. Brophy finally made it onto the core cast when Jackson directed a trilogy based on The Hobbit. Brophy played one of the dwarf heroes: Nori, whose distinctive braided hair resembles the shape of a star. Brophy described the character as vain and "a bit dodgy: an outsider, a wide-boy, a schemer, a wheeler-dealer and a kleptomaniac".
Brophy's ability to act under prosthetics and makeup snared him a key role in the first season of Kiwi-shot fantasy series The Shannara Chronicles (2016). He spent five hours in the makeup chair transforming into the villainous Dagda Mor.
At the other end of the budget scale, Brophy has starred in a number of low budget features. He was one of the paranormal investigators in The Dead Room, played a cop who gets caught up with the Killer Sofa, and was the shotgun-wielding arrival in petrol station tale Blue Moon (which was shot in just 30 hours, over five nights). Hit movie Second-Hand Wedding provided a rare chance to act in his home territory, the Kapiti Coast.
Along the way Brophy has played everything from the love interest (Chicken) to a South African police chief (District 9, a role he performed after not sleeping the previous night). In 2011 he had the moving experience of acting in tele-movie Tangiwai - A Love Story (as real life cricket writer Dick Brittenden). Brophy's grandfather was one of the coroners at Tangiwai, after the train plunged into the Whangaehu River in December 1953.
Brophy has also carved out an impressive tally of short films. On the list are Lorae Parry's airport tale Virginia’s Candy, Lemming Aid (a runner-up at the Cannes Film Festival), Darryn Exists and Dangerous Ride. In 2000 he won a Best Actor award at Wellington festival Drifting Clouds for comedy Group Therapy. Brophy starred as Ewen, a man addicted to self-help groups. The following year he was nominated for an NZ Film Award for his portrayal of a paranoid interior decorator in surveillance tale Room Tone.
Aside from his own acting, Brophy has done stints teaching acting at Toi Whakaari and Whitireia.
Profile updated on 29 January 2020
Jed Brophy website. Accessed 29 January 2020
Jed Brophy, 'An Unseasonable Fall of Snow' Circa Theatre website. Loaded 22 September 2014. Accessed 29 January 2020
Chris Gordon, 'S1:E23: Jed Brophy' (Audio interview) Hellblazerbiz website. Loaded 2 February 2016. Accessed 29 January 2020
Larry Heath, 'The Iris Interview: Jed Brophy of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug' (USA/New Zealand, 2013)' The AU Review. Loaded 23 December 2013. Accessed 29 January 2020
Brian Sibley, The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide (London: Mariner Books, 2012)
Unknown writer, 'Second skin' (Interview) - Capital Times, 14 July 2004, page 8
'The Cast'. Tangiwai website (broken link) Accessed 10 July 2012
Second-Hand Wedding press kit (scroll down) Accessed 29 January 2020