In his early career, feature film director Roger Donaldson put himself in risky positions while filming adventure documentaries, including The Adventure World of Sir Edmund Hillary. With his friend Ian Mune, he created Winners & Losers, a landmark series of dramas based on stories by New Zealand writers, which in turn inspired the pair to adapt CK Stead’s novel Smith’s Dream into feature film Sleeping Dogs. The major turning point in Donaldson’s career was his feature Smash Palace, which screened at Cannes and earned rave reviews. Since Smash Palace, Donaldson has thrived in Hollywood, working with notable actors including Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner and Pierce Brosnan. He returned to New Zealand to make the Burt Munro biopic The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins.
James Coleman trained as an actor and appeared in hit film Stickmen, but has made his name as a broadcaster on radio and television. He was a host on TV3 morning show Sunrise, and blended his actor and broadcaster roles in TV satire The Jaquie Brown Diairies.
Ray Henwood, ONZM — father of comedian Dai — arrived in New Zealand from Wales, just in time for the birth of professional theatre downunder. Best known to TV viewers for five seasons playing Hugh on hit office comedy Gliding On, Henwood’s screen roles include villains (The Legend of William Tell) surgeons (Shortland Street), and experts in hypothermia (Such a Stupid Way to Die). Which is not to mention an epic theatre career which has seen him play Stalin, Einstein and Richard Burton, and star in early plays at Wellington theatres Downstage and Circa.
Award-winning singer and actor Annie Whittle has tried most things in the entertainment business and has been successful at all of them. She has appeared in a range of home-grown TV shows including A Week of It, The Makutu on Mrs Jones, The Billy T James Show, Heartland, Shortland Street, and Outrageous Fortune. She has also graced the silver screen in the feature films Trial Run and The World’s Fastest Indian.
Geoff Murphy was the teacher and trumpet player who got New Zealand yelling in the movie aisles. After boning up on filmmaking while touring on the Blerta bus, Murphy turned out a triple punch of local classics: 1981 blockbuster Goodbye Pork Pie, historical epic Utu and last man on earth tale The Quiet Earth. The director worked with everyone from Wild Man Bruno Lawrence to Mickey Rourke; from varsity safecrackers to hobbits, with time for nail-biting hijinks in Wellington railyards and atop the LA Metro train.
Popular radio and television personality Jennie Goodwin (aka Jennie Forder) became the first woman in the Commonwealth to read a prime time news bulletin. Beginning as a continuity announcer on TV1, Goodwin moved to the fledgling TV2/SPTV channel in 1975 and read the news on the channel’s Two at Seven bulletin until 1982.