You've been lucky
enough to work with actors ranging from Max von Sydow to Peter O'Toole, Robert
Redford and James Mason. How do you handle the pressure of performing alongside
There's part of me that was, is and will continue to be a
fan. It's one of the hidden bonuses in what I do that not only do I get to meet
and hang out with these people, but I actually play with them too - cos that's
what you're really doing. Actors aren't called players for nothing.
Ever met any idols
who have shattered your perceptions?
I've worked with hundreds, if not thousands of actors over
the years. In all that time I've only worked with two people I have honestly
grown to dislike, to my surprise with both of them. I think, by and large,
actors are over-celebrated and underrated... both at the same time. We make too
much fuss about actors and it's absurd this cult of celebrity that goes with
acting. At the same time, actors aren't really supposed to have brains or
opinions or personalities even. I've met and worked with so many actors who
I've not only found very entertaining and likable, but are fully fledged human
beings. Believe me, I do know how that sounds, but I genuinely like actors.
Can we ask who those
two undesirables are?
No, no, I couldn't possibly tell you that [laughs], yet I
will certainly never work with them again. But telling would be...
Was there ever a
moment when you were in a film and the heavens parted, revealing this was your
I don't think I've had a "road to Damascus" moment
on film, I think, but probably the films I've done that give me the most
pleasure are the odd little things you have to be a buff to have seen, I'd say.
Death In Brunswick I'm
very fond of. The Dish I like
immensely and In The Mouth Of Madness.
What keeps your motor
running when it's obvious you're the most unlikely person to be involved in
this movie business" circus"?
I'm not terribly "circus" -involved, really. I put
my head above the trenches when we need to promote a film like this, and I'm
happy to do so cos I like Jurassic Park.
Plus you also should, as a matter of moral obligation, support your work. So I
do get out and do interviews. I'm not very comfortable with it, but it's a part
of the patch. I'm not really seen "out on the town", so the circus
aspects of showbiz I'm not really part of, I don't think.
Not to blow wind up
your arse, but it seems the real" actors" of this world all have a
The other reason is... some of them actually shouldn't.
Robert De Niro, who I would say that most actors accept, is the best actor on
celluloid today and has been pre-eminent for years. But he's hopeless in
interviews. I saw him on Letterman
once, and you just hoped that the stage would open up and swallow him and that
would be it. Sometimes it's better people just don't, you know. Keep the
mystique, mate. Also, TV things are the toughest, cos you're obliged to
entertain, and actors aren't trained to do that. They're supposed to remember
lines and follow scripts, not be a stand-up comic.
I've heard you're
starting a production company?
Yeah. It's early days, and we haven't produced anything yet
[laughs], but we'd like to think
we're developing things.
It's such a trend now
with actors at a younger age - it's surprising that it's taken you so long.
It has come late. That's in part because I'm becoming
increasingly New Zealand
orientated, I suppose, and I wanted to be able to generate more work there. Not
just for myself but for others too. There's about three projects in the works.
The first off the blocks is supposed to be a film by Gaylene Preston called Perfect Stranger. It's as New
Zealand films tend to be, a rather dark and
twisted love story.
What is it about New Zealand films and their illusion of
"surprises behind the curtain"? [Laughing] They tend to have certain Gothic dimensions, don't they.
It's curious, cos I don't think we're any darker in ourselves than anyone else
particularly. It just seems to be the way they turn out. It may be one of those
things that New Zealand
cinema is going through, like Australian cinema goes through phases. Our next
phase may be quirky comedies. The Dish
is a great example of a film that couldn't be made anywhere else but here [Australia].
If these things are told truthfully, they can work on an international level.
Although it disappointed me that The Dish
didn't do well in the States. I think Warner Bros. threw it away, because every
journalist I've spoken to in the States loved it. I hope it will have an
afterlife on video and people will rediscover it. I really didn't need any
persuasion to be on that project, and Rob [Sitch,
director] was needlessly very persuasive. I'm very fond of what Working Dog
So what's this Two
Paddocks winery gig you're involved in all about?
Well, it's Pinot Noir. It's very good Pinot Noir from one of
the world's premier Pinot areas, Central Otago,
New Zealand. We're on our
fifth vintage, and I'm as surprised as anyone as to how good it is.
What compelled you to
do it in the first place?
Oh, I just thought it would be fun. I have a couple of
friends who were making and growing wine and I like doing things with the land,
yet I'm not personally interested in sheep. But wine, that's different. It's
been completely fascinating and I've learnt a lot about all sorts of things,
not least myself.