George Henare is acting royalty in New Zealand with a huge body of work in theatre, television and movies. His first screen performance was as a suspected killer in the 1976 TV play The Park Terrace Murder. From there Henare starred as Hone Heke in the epic TV drama The Governor. Moving to the big screen, Henare portrayed the evil tohunga in The Silent One. Henare's other film and television credits include Mercy Peak, Shortland Street, Hercules and Xena, Rapa Nui, Once Were Warriors, and The Legend of Johnny Lingo.
Actor, acting teacher, and artist the late Grant Tilly played cow cockies, assassins, missionaries, and German villains in funny hats. And that’s not even counting his long-running stage career, which included a run of classic Kiwi plays, one of which became acclaimed movie Middle Age Spread.
Danielle Cormack began acting on stage, then won a coveted role on popular 80s soap Gloss in her teens. She went on to a one year stint in the early days of Shortland Street. Cormack co-starred in both the TV show and movie versions of Topless Women Talk About Their Lives; her pregnancy was incorporated into the storyline. Cormack's other work includes The Price of Milk and Australian TV hit Wentworth.
Selwyn Toogood is still remembered as Mr It’s in the Bag, despite a broadcasting career which ran more than 50 years. Karyn Hay is known as Ms Radio with Pictures, despite being reborn as a radio host and award-winning novelist. And Russell Smith will be forever associated with milk-mad vampire Count Homogenized, despite a long career acting on stage and screen.
Actor/director Danny Mulheron has acted alongside drug-addicted frogs, haunted automobiles, and “force of nature” David Fane. After appearing in early Kiwi soap Close to Home, Mulheron went on to act on television, stage and film - including in the cult Peter Jackson puppet movie Meet the Feebles. In the late 80s he found himself working on both sides of the camera on a run of television sketch shows. Mulheron’s lengthy directorial CV now includes drama, comedy, and documentary.
Nathaniel Lees is an NZ-born Samoan actor who has acted on both stage and screen. Lees began his screen career with small roles in Death Warmed Up and Other Halves, before joining Billy T James on his sketch comedy shows. Lees went on to appear in a number of TV dramas including Shark in the Park , City Life, Gloss, Shortland Street and Street Legal. His many film roles include Sione’s Wedding, The Lord of the Rings, Rapa Nui and The Matrix trilogy.
Actor and musician Madeleine Sami was starring in acclaimed stage plays and acting in Shortland Street, while still a teen. Since then she has appeared in TV drama The Insiders Guide to Happiness, and big screen hit Sione’s Wedding and its sequel. Sami also created quirky comedy series Super City, in which she played multiple roles.
Ilona Rodgers has acted in television and stage plays in Australasia and the United Kingdom. Her local credits include beloved soap Gloss (as magazine boss Maxine Redfern), Close to Home, Marlin Bay and classic film Utu.
Irene Wood has played Katherine Mansfield, a nymphomaniac pensioner, and a gin-toting grandma to a Go Girl. Her screen career first got busy in the early days of NZ TV, as an actor, TV presenter, and musical performer. Years later she would snare what is probably her best-known role: as a hard-drinking grandma over five seasons of hit show Go Girls. Wood has also appeared on Shortland Street and in movies Rest for the Wicked and The Shirt.
Taika Waititi [Te-Whānau-a-Apanui] acted in movies Scarfies and Snakeskin, TV show The Strip (sometimes under the credit Taika Cohen), and appeared on stage as a stand-up comedian. Turning his creative energies towards directing, he made Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night, and Tama Tū, based on the experiences of The Māori Battalion in WWII. He has gone on to great success directing (and sometimes appearing in) feature films.