Marshall Napier’s long run of memorable supporting roles includes classic movies Came a Hot Friday and The Navigator. He has starred in BellbirdThe Lie of the Land and teleplay Swimming Lessons. A  move to Australia in the late 1980s saw turns in hit movie Babe and TV's Police Rescue and McLeod’s Daughters. Napier took his own play Freak Winds, to New York in 2006, after a sellout run in Australia.

I've played a ridiculous number of cops and criminals over the years. It just seemed to happen...I was fine with it — they're character roles and I'm a character actor. It's not that I identify with these guys, but there's definitely a cathartic thrill attached to playing some of these parts. Marshall Napier

Earl's Town

2019, Actor - Short Film

Northspur

2019, As: Summers c - Film

Bellbird

2019, As: Ross - Film

Actor Marshall Napier (Came a Hot Friday) has played a good number of unsympathetic cops over his long career. In Bellbird he displays a gentler side, as a Northland dairy farmer who is unable to express himself after his wife's death. His son (Cohen Holloway) and friends try to help in various ways. Director and schoolteacher Hamish Bennett based his script on memories of growing up in rural Northland. The film expands upon his award-winning short film Ross and Beth (2014). The cast also includes Rachel House. Bellbird was invited to screen at the 2019 Sydney Film Festival. 

Down Under

2016, As: Graham - Film

The Moodys

2014, As: Howard Benson

Love Child

2014 - 2015, As: Greg Matheson - Television

Inside

2013, As: The Visiting Doctor - Short Film

Jack Irish: Bad Debts

2012, As: Father Gorman

Auckland Daze

2014, As: Arnold - Web

Underbelly Files: Tell Them Lucifer Was Here

2011, As: Chief Commissioner

Panic at Rock Island

2011, As: Paul Thorpe , As: Paul Thorpe - Television

Griff the Invisible

2010, As: Benson - Film

Rake

2012, As: Prosecution - Television

I'm Not Harry Jenson

2009, As: Tom - Film

In this dark whodunit Gareth Reeves (The Cult, A Song of Good) stars as a crime writer who goes bush with strangers, while on a break from researching a story on a serial killer. Soon there’s death in the muddy Waitakere backblocks. The film marked the big screen debut of filmmaking partners James Napier Robertson and Tom Hern, en route to their high profile drama The Dark Horse. The results won support from a strong ensemble cast (Ian Mune, Ilona Rodgers), an invitation to the NZ film festival, and praise from NZ Herald reviewer Peter Calder for "smart writing and good acting".

The Water Horse

2007, As: Sergeant Strunk - Film

City Homicide

2007 - 2010 , As: Wilton Sparkes - Television

McLeod's Daughters

2001 - 2006, As: Harry Ryan - Television

The Shirt

2000, As: Mike Hughes - Film

The Lost World (TV series)

2000, As: Drakul - Television

Water Rats

1996 - 2001, Actor - Television

Swimming Lessons

1995, As: Jim Sadler - Television

Swimming Lessons is the story of jaded swimming coach Jim Sadler (Marshall Napier, from Came a Hot Friday and Bellbird) and a spirited seven-year-old delinquent (Sam Masina). The troubled Samoan boy is a potential champion, but the challenges of training him force the coach to confront his own failings in life: one as seemingly straight as the pool's lane line. Directed by Steve La Hood (documentary Numero Bruno), the TV movie won two NZ Television Awards, for actors Masina and Catherine Wilkin. It screened in the Montana Sunday Theatre slot.

Babe

1995, Actor - Film

Blue Heelers

1994 - 2006, Actor - Television

Shotgun Wedding

1993, As: Detective Dave Green - Film

Police Rescue

1991 - 1992, As: Sergeant Fred Catteau - Television

Always Afternoon

1988, As: Bill Kennon - Television

Adventurer

1988, As: George Mason - Television

The Grasscutter

1988, As: Detective Inspector Cross - Television

As a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force, Brian Deeds (Belfast-born actor Ian McElhinney) grassed on 23 fellow terrorists in Northern Ireland. Now living in New Zealand under a new identity, Deeds has to come clean to his girlfriend (Judy McIntosh) when a hit squad arrives in town for him. This clip sees guns and car crashes on the streets of Dunedin. Made in NZ, the Anglo-Kiwi funded TV movie won solid audiences on UK television, before local release on video. Ian Mune (Came a Hot Friday) directs; Marshall Napier and Temuera Morrison are the cops playing catch up. 

The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey

1988, As: Searle - Film

A young boy is afflicted by apocalyptic visions in medieval Cumbria. Believing he is divinely inspired to save his village from the Black Death, he persuades a group of men to follow him into a tunnel. They dig deep into the earth and emerge ... in Auckland, New Zealand, 1987. Following portents, the time travelers must negotiate the terrors of a strange new world, (motorways, nuclear submarines) — while seeking to save their own. Nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes, it scooped the gongs at the 1988 AFI and 1989 NZ Film & TV Awards.

Starlight Hotel

1987, As: Detective Wallace - Film

This Depression-era road movie tails teen runaway Kate (Greer Robson) as she tags along with World War I veteran Patrick (Aussie actor Peter Phelps) — also on the run after assaulting a repo man. The odd couple relationship grudgingly evolves as they narrowly escape the law, while crossing the southern badlands. Director Sam Pillsbury's film won wide praise; LA Times critic Kevin Thomas called it "pure enchantment". Robson's Listener award-winning turn followed her breakthrough role in Smash Palace. The film was nominated for another eight awards, including Best Film. 

The Lie of the Land

1987, As: Huddy - Film

Pallet on the Floor

1986, As: Joe Voot - Film

The last novel by Ronald Hugh Morrieson revolves around a freezing plant worker (Peter McCauley) in an interracial marriage. For this little seen movie adaptation, the role of an English remittance man was expanded in an attempt to cast Peter O'Toole (New Zealand-born Bruce Spence got the role). Morrieson's view of small-town Aotearoa is a dark one, as he explores racism, violence, suicide and blackmail. Bruno Lawrence contributes to Jonathan Crayford's jazz-tinged score, and features in the wedding band. The freezing works scenes were shot at the defunct plant in Patea.

Footrot Flats

1986, As: Hunk Murphy - Film

In 1986 Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale and its theme song ‘Slice of Heaven’ were huge hits in New Zealand and Australia. The adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip marked Aotearoa's first animated feature. There were a lot of big questions to answer: Will Wal become an All Black? Will Cooch recover his stolen stag? Will the Dog win your hearts and funny bones? Punters answered at the box office. This John Toon-shot trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs song, and smartly leveraged both. Tony Hiles writes about the film's making here.

Heart of the High Country

1985, As: Harry - Television

Came a Hot Friday

1984, As: Sel Bishop - Film

“The funniest, liveliest, most exuberant film ever made in New Zealand”. So said critic Nicholas Reid, a year after Came a Hot Friday became 1985's biggest local hit. Though Billy T’s loony Mexican-Māori cowboy is beloved by fans, he is but one eccentric here among many — as two scheming conmen hit town, and encounter bookies, boozers, country hicks, nasty crim Marshall Napier, and Prince Tui Teka playing saxophone. Until the arrival of The Piano in 1993, Ian Mune and Dean Parker’s award-loaded adaptation remained NZ's third biggest local hit. Ian Pryor writes about the film here.

Inside Straight

1984, As: Anzac - Television

Shot on location in Wellington, often after dark, Inside Straight helped usher in a new era of Kiwi TV dramas, far from the rural backblocks. This Minder-esque portrait of Wellington’s underworld was inspired by writer Keith Aberdein’s experiences as a taxi-driver and all night cafe worker. Phillip Gordon (soon to win fame as a conman in Came a Hot Friday) stars as the former fisherman, learning the ways of the city from veteran taxi driver Roy Billing. A solid but unspectacular rater over 10 episodes, the show was scuttled by the launch of trucker’s tale Roche.

Wild Horses

1984, As: Andy - Film

Mitch (Keith Aberdein) moves to Tongariro National Park to help wrangle wild horses threatening ecology and traffic. He meets Sara, who shares an obsession for a fabled silver horse. They clash with rangers and deer recovery guns-for-hire (Bruno Lawrence is the black-clad villain) determined to eradicate the horses, and a showdown on the Desert Plateau ensues. In the notoriously fraught production a stable of Kiwi acting legends perform a melange of western and freedom-on-the-range genre turns (with the conservationists oddly set up as the bad guys).

Battletruck

1982, As: Driver - Film

In a lawless fuel wars future, marauders roam the wasteland looking for oil. Their malevolent leader Straker threatens his daughter Corlie; she’s rescued by loner Hunter and they harbour with eco-sensitive folk in the Clearwater Commune ... but not for long: there will be blood on the Central Otago plains! Following in the exhaust of Mad Max, the cult film was made during the 80s tax-break feature surge, with US director (Harley Cokliss) and leads flocking south during a Hollywood writers’ strike, and Kiwis as crew (“artists with chainsaws”) and supporting cast.

Bad Blood

1982, As: Trev Bond - Film

This feature tells the true story of the notorious 1941 manhunt for Stanley Graham. The West Coast farmer went bush after a shooting spree that followed police pressure to have him hand over his firearms. Seven men were ultimately killed. Written by Kiwi-born Andrew Brown (from Harold Willis’ book), Bad Blood was made during the tax break era for UK TV, but was released in NZ cinemas. Directed by Brit Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), it won strong reviews. Aussie legend Jack Thompson and compatriot Carol Burns star as the isolated Bonnie and Clyde coasters.

Goodbye Pork Pie

1981, Actor - Film

Goodbye Pork Pie was a low-budget sensation, definitively proving Kiwis could make blockbusters too. Young Gerry (Kelly Johnson) steals a yellow Mini from a Kaitaia rental company. Heading south, he meets John (Tony Barry), who wants his wife back, and hitchhiker Shirl (Claire Oberman). Soon they're heading to Invercargill, with the police in pursuit. High on hair-raising driving and a childlike sense of joy, the Blondini gang are soon hailed as folk heroes, on screen and off. Remake Pork Pie (2017) was directed by Matt Murphy — son of Geoff, who drove the original film. 

Hold Up

1981, As: Robber - Short Film

Rock Around the Clock - First Episode

1981, As: Bodgie - Television

The golden age of rock is recaptured in a studio mock-up of the Wellington Rock 'n' Roll Revival Club. Hosted by Paul Holmes (under the name Wonderful Wally Watson), the show features Tom Sharplin and his band. Dalvanius Prime also puts in an appearance, delivering a wonderful version of 'The Great Pretender'. The show mixes studio and location sequences, as it delivers hits made famous by the likes of 50s legends Bill Haley and Chuck Berry. Actors Marshall Napier and Brian Sergent are on hand to play a couple of bodgies, referencing the milk-bar cowboys of the era.

Lynn of Tawa (special)

1980, Writer, As: Various roles - Television

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

1980, As: Constable Wylie - Film

Beyond Reasonable Doubt reconstructs the events surrounding a notorious New Zealand miscarriage of justice. Farmer Arthur Allan Thomas was jailed for the murder of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe. Directed by John Laing, and starring Australian John Hargreaves (as Thomas) and Englishman David Hemmings (Blowup, Barbarella), the drama  benefitted from immense public interest in the case. Thomas was pardoned while the film was in pre-production, and he saw some scenes being made. It became New Zealand's most successful film until Goodbye Pork Pie in 1981.

Inside Every Thin Girl

1979, As: Earle - Television

The Neville Purvis Family Show - Episode

1979, As: Larry Lucas - Television

This showcase for Arthur Baysting's sleazy, comedic alter-ego Neville ("on the level") Purvis ("at your service") is notorious for containing the first use of the f-word on a New Zealand television show. As a result, Baysting was banned and crossed the Tasman to find work (an irony given the show's anti-Australian jokes). Surviving segments from the show include a launch by PM Rob Muldoon, a tour of Avalon, a performance by Limbs Dance Company (including Mary-Jane O'Reilly), a visit to the Close to Home set, an interview with a garden gnome fan, and some Mark II Zephyr worship.

The Governor

1977, Actor - Television

The Governor was a television epic that examined the life of Governor George Grey in six thematic parts. Grey's "Good Governor" persona was undercut with laudanum, lechery and land confiscation. NZ TV's first (and only) historical blockbuster was hugely controversial, provoking a parliamentary inquiry and "test match sized" audiences. It won a 1978 Feltex Award for Best Drama. Auckland Star reviewer Barry Shaw trumpeted: "It has made Māori matter. If Pākehā now have a better understanding of the Māori point of view [...] it stems from The Governor.