Peter Feeney’s professional acting career kicked off in 1994 after an Honours degree in Politics and History from Melbourne University, graduate study in Moscow and a Drama Diploma from Auckland University.
Since then Feeney’s firm jaw has been a familiar screen presence. His headline roles range from playing maligned 1940s filmmaker Cecil Holmes (in 1995 docudrama Seeing Red), to a deranged hunter (in 2000 teleplay Possum Hunter), to an eccentric father (in 2013 coming of age short film Birdsong).
His biggest screen role to date was in 2015 telemovie Abandoned, based on the ill-fated journey of the Rose-Noelle. Feeney played skipper John Glennie, the most confident member of a quartet who survived in an upturned trimaran for over three months. Stuff reviewer Jane Clifton praised Abandoned for its tense portrayal of life on board, and for the "commendably unsparing" depiction of Glennie. To recreate the drama, cast and crew did 10-hour days out at sea, often in the cramped quarters of an upturned boat.
Feeney's other based on a true story TV movies include In Dark Places (playing lawyer Paul Davison, one of those accusing Teina Pora of rape and murder), Operation Overdue (about the Erebus disaster recovery mission) and Siege (about a gunman holed up in a Napier suburb).
It hasn't all been reality based. He was the kids’ spy master in over the top children's show Secret Agent Men, a businessman living a double life in Dirty Laundry, and has appeared in many locally filmed US productions (including Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Ash vs Evil Dead, and vampire tale 30 Days of Night). In 2003 his turn as a man waiting for a train in award-winning short The Platform was nominated for Best Short Film Performance at the NZ Film Awards.
Feeney got special mention in a number of reviews of Jonathan King’s 2007 splatter comedy Black Sheep, for his role as a mad scientist gone gleefully-GE. US critic Scott Weinberg namechecked him for delivering "a colourfully nasty lead villain", while The NZ Herald's Russell Baillie called his character "a perfect blend of mad scientist and Kiwi landed gentry". In 1998 he was the male lead in Australian mini-series murder mystery A Difficult Woman. Later he appeared in Aussie hits All Saints, Stingers and Wanted (playing father of one of the women on the run).
Feeney has turned his conventionally handsome facade (he once modelled in the Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards) to comic effect in shows like Auckland Daze and Agent Anna — and in his over-the-top rendering of a self-help guru in an advertising campaign for Tip Top’s Memphis Meltdown.
On the other side of the camera, Feeney has been casting director (including for The Amazing Extraordinary Friends and post-apocalyptic sci-fi series The Cul de Sac, on which he also played one of the parents). Since 2001 he has taught acting on both sides of the Tasman, including at drama school Toi Whakaari, Unitec Performing Arts School and Auckland's The Actors' Program.
Feeney is also an acclaimed theatre actor and director. His one man show A Night with Beau Tyler (an adaptation of his Memphis Meltdown persona) toured New Zealand in 2008 and 2009. He has written an acclaimed coming of age novel (Blind, Bitter Happiness), and contributed travel pieces to The NZ Herald.
In a 2015 Stuff interview, Feeney was asked whether he’d considered the path of many Kiwi actors: relocating to Los Angeles. After all, there are finite opportunities in New Zealand's smaller pond, and he has already done the regulation role in Shortland Street (Doctor Nathan Exley). “I'm a family man, I've got three kids," Feeney replied. "So obviously if they ring me up I'm going to go, but to go to LA with three children is not an attractive prospect — not from the stories I've heard.” Feeney added that his hero was Alan Dale, "because he went to Hollywood when he was 52, and I'm 50..."
Regardless of where he’s based, the catholic range of Feeney’s acting roles looks set to continue.
Profile updated on 28 September 2018
Tinderbox Productions website (broken link). Accessed 20 October 2016
'Peter Feeney' Kathryn Rawlings website. Accessed 28 September 2018
'Peter Feeney' Speakers NZ website. Accessed 28 September 2018
Russell Baillie, 'Black Sheep' (Review) - The NZ Herald, 29 March 2007
Jane Clifton, 'Kiwi real life drama Abandoned a well-rounded adventure movie' (Review) Stuff website. Loaded 2 September 2015. Accessed 28 September 2018
Scott Weinberg, ‘Shear Madness(2007)’ (Review of Black Sheep), Efilmcritic webiste. Loaded 11 September 2006. Accessed 28 September 2018
Siena Yates, 'Rose Noelle story to be retold in two-part film' Stuff website. Loaded 23 August 2015. Accessed 28 September 2018
Unknown writer, ‘Peter Feeney making waves with his latest show’ (Interview) Stuff website. Loaded 9 August 2015. Accessed 28 September 2018