NZ On Screen's Car Collection is loaded with vehicles of every make and vintage, as a line-up of legendary Kiwis get behind the wheel — some acting the part. The talent includes Bruce McLaren, Scott Dixon, Bruno Lawrence, a clever canine, and a great many bent fenders. Onetime car show host Danny Mulheron tells tales, and picks out some personal favourites here.
Stunt driver Judd (US Oscar winner Cliff Robertson) and his mechanic Casey (ex child star Leif Garrett) are in NZ racing 'Shaker' — their pink and black Trans-Am — when they're enlisted by scientist Dr Christine Ruben on a fast and furious dash from Dunedin. Unknown to the Yanks, Ruben (Lisa Harrow) has stolen a deadly virus that she's aiming to smuggle to the CIA, and away from the NZ military — who plan to use it for bio warfare! Touted as "fantasy car violence", the chase and stunt-laden Run was one of dozens of films sped out under an 80s tax break scheme.
Lisa Harrow left New Zealand in the 1960s to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in England – it was this move that cemented her love of theatre and later enabled her to build an international screen career. She has visited New Zealand periodically and starred in locally-shot movies Other Halves and Shaker Run. Nowadays Harrow lives in the US and is involved in environmental campaigning. Her most recent Kiwi project was a role as the grandmother in TV2’s Step Dave.
Tom Hern is a film producer who began his screen career as a junior reporter on children’s television show What Now?. He went on to star in The Tribe, where he met his future business partner James Napier Robertson. Hern acted in a number of other TV shows such as Shortland Street and Power Rangers, before producing his first feature film I’m Not Harry Jenson. Since then Hern has produced features Everything We Loved and The Dark Horse.
The Dark Horse is the story of a Māori ex-speed chess champ who must “overcome prejudice and violence in the battle to save his struggling chess club, his family and ultimately, himself”. Genesis Potini has a bi-polar disorder; his nephew Mana (Boy’s James Rolleston) faces being pressed into a gang. A near unrecognisable Cliff Curtis won international acclaim as Potini. James Napier Robertson's acclaimed second feature was picked to opened the 2014 Auckland and Wellington Film Festival, and scored six Moa awards, including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actor.
From playing a human mule in The Piano, a dandy in Desperate Remedies and the hated Uncle Bully in Once Were Warriors, actor Cliff Curtis has appeared in a number of classic Kiwi movies. Curtis won acclaim and awards after starring as troubled chess champ Genesis Potini in The Dark Horse. He has also forged a busy international acting career, and moved into work as a producer, out of a desire to make Māori stories.
Lisa Harrow's CV marks her out as one of New Zealand's most prodigious acting exports. After starring in Twelfth Night for the Royal Shakespeare Company at age 25, she got serious about screen acting in the 1980s and worked everywhere from Iceland to Australia, as well as starring in Kiwi films Other Halves and Shaker Run. Alongside her acting, Harrow now campaigns for ecological responsibility on stage and page.
Bruce Morrison's extensive career as director, producer and sometime scriptwriter has crossed the gamut: from innovative arts programming and pioneer music videos, to the long-running Heartland series — plus feature films variously involving fast cars, riotous teens and a glamour-struck Donogh Rees.
James Napier Robertson began his screen career as an actor on teen hits Being Eve and The Tribe. It was on The Tribe that he met actor Tom Hern. In 2006 the two formed a company (now known as Four Knights Films), and developed backwoods thriller I'm Not Harry Jenson. Robertson's second movie as director was acclaimed Moa award-winner The Dark Horse, starring Cliff Curtis as real-life chess champ Genesis Potini.