Oliver Driver's career has seen him fronting arts programmes and breakfast show Sunrise, and playing everyone from villainous alien Mr Wilberforce to a sensitive sperm donor and a wacky nurse. The ex-Auckland Theatre Company artistic director has also done time with music station Alt TV, co-starred in chalk and cheese comedy Sunny Skies and directed multiple episodes of Shortland Street.
Bruno Lawrence was a widely popular and prolific actor, musician and counter-cultural hero. His inimitable and charismatic screen presence was central to Kiwi legends Smash Palace, The Quiet Earth and Utu. Lawrence was also known for his influential and anarchic travelling theatre troupe, Blerta.
Christine Jeffs made her name as one of New Zealand's foremost commercial directors. After winning attention with no dialogue short Stroke (1994), she made her feature film debut with coming of age tale Rain, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival's Directors' Fortnight in 2001. Jeffs went on to direct Sylvia, featuring Gwyneth Paltrow as poet Sylvia Plath, and American indie title Sunshine Cleaning.
Rose Matafaeo won attention in 2018 when, at age 26, she won the top comedy award at the Edinburgh Festival. Matafeo has also made a mark on-screen. She was a presenter on TVNZ youth show U Live, before writing and performing for Jono and Ben. A lead writer and co-star of sketch show Funny Girls, she has become a regular face on English television. In 2019 she began making Kiwi film comedy Baby, Done.
Michael Haigh gave up teaching to become a professional actor. A founding member of Wellington’s Circa Theatre, his TV legacy is the gruff office worker Jim in Roger Hall’s Gliding On — one of NZ television’s great comic characters and a role that won him a Feltex Award. He played Jim for five years and appeared in a number of other TV series and films (almost inevitably playing a policeman). Michael Haigh died in 1993.
Clinical psychologist Nigel Latta first made his mark on Kiwi television in 2008 with Beyond the Darklands, based on his book Into the Darklands, about New Zealand criminals and how they came to be. Latta hosted the show for five seasons, alongside three lighthearted, politically incorrect series about teenagers and other humans. 2014 saw the launch of wide-ranging issues show Nigel Latta.
The late Keith Bracey's impeccable diction, dashing goatee and impish sense of humour made him a household name as presenter of Town and Around in Auckland. His interview with musician Acker Bilk (where he dressed identically) left a lasting impression on viewers. Bracey fronted the crime fighting show Police 5 from 1976 until 1986, when his familiar face and voice disappeared from television screens.
John Bates is a documentary director whose low profile and natural modesty belies his talent. His award-winning documentaries range across many iconic New Zealand people and events, including the 1951 waterfront dispute, the 1975 Māori Land March, late photographer Robin Morrison, and the history of television itself.
There were times when the career of longtime National Film Unit director David Sims could have been cut short. Having survived close encounters with steam locomotives in mountainous terrain, he narrowly escaped being blown up, drowned and burnt alive at sea. Even filming a planned set-up on location had its hazards, as he found when his call of “action!” sent exploding rocks whistling by perilously close overhead.
One of New Zealand's best known screen actors, Sam Neill possesses a blend of everyman ordinariness, charm and good looks that have made him an international leading man. His resume of television and 70+ feature films includes leading roles in landmark New Zealand movies, from a man alone on the run in breakout feature Sleeping Dogs to the repressed settler in The Piano.