New Zealand actors will die happy for the chance to be on The Mysteries of Brokenwood, one of the most successful dramas in this country.
Actor Fern Sutherland, who plays Detective Kristin Sims, says asking performers – some of them household names – to come forward to be stabbed and lie on a slab should be a pretty tough sell.
“Tim (producer and screenwriter Tim Balme) tells me, ‘I feel really bad asking you to do this,’ but they love it, ‘she said.
“A lot of these fancy people are like, ‘I want to play the part of a dead man, you’re not stopping me.’ Weirdly, they have time.
The Mysteries of Brokenwood – often described as New Zealand’s response to Midsomer Murders – follows Detective Sergeant Mike Shepherd (Neill Rea) and Sims as they solve often bizarre deaths in what must be New Zealand’s murder capital.
The two are aided and encouraged by Agent Sam Breen (Nic Sampson) and pathologist Gina (Cristina Ionda) as well as a host of eccentric city dwellers. And old Shortland Street Actor Jarod Rawiri joins the team this season as Detective Daniel Chalmers.
Rea and Sutherland have short wishlists of who else they would like as guests.
“Sam Neill,” Sutherland says, while his co-star opts for American blues and jazz singer and actor Tom Waits.
* Brokenwood Mysteries’ Neill Rea takes the lead as canine co-star
* A Frenchman in love with Kiwi hits Brokenwood, “a lo-fi antidote” to sophisticated police broadcasts
* The Brokenwood Mysteries makes an international killing
Meanwhile, the two admit that despite being the stars of the show, they are often smitten by their guests.
“It’s really strange being the frontman of a show,” says Sutherland, “when the people who taught you in drama school, or mentored you at some point in your life, you ask, “Do you want me to do anything for you in this scene?” Is there a way I can help you? ‘
“You’re like, ‘Alright, no problem, Miranda Harcourt, you’re doing anything’.”
This season, which is on TVNZ 1 after six years on Prime, is no exception.
Rea says that even after six series and 24 feature film episodes, there is still a line of actors eager to appear on the series.
“It’s pretty interesting in terms of how many good actors there are around. Jennifer Ward-Lealand (who appears in the fifth episode of this season) is a good example, ”he said, adding that Lisa Harrow also appears in the same episode.
Other stars invited this year include Mark Hadlow (King Kong, The Hobbit), Annie Whittle (Go girls, Bellbird), husband and wife duo Craig Hall and Sara Wiseman, Head held high Miriama McDowell and Peter Feeney (Play forever, Cul De Sac).
A crowd of alumni Shortland Street Favorites will also appear, including former Ferndale Strangler actor Johnny Barker (see panel), Ingrid Park, Claire Chitham, Lucy Wigmore, Grace Palmer and Ryan O’Kane.
It’s a family affair for some with Rea’s actor brother Iain making an appearance and Katherine McRae – daughter of Elizabeth McRae who plays town thug Jean Marlowe – guest on an episode.
Rea and Sutherland are always amazed at the scope of the show, especially its huge international audience.
It currently airs on 21 channels in 17 countries – around five million French viewers listen to most episodes – and is hugely popular on the international streaming service Acorn.
“I think I got more recognition in Scotland a few years ago than here,” Rea says, and Sutherland, who lives in Canada, admits it’s the same for her.
“It’s quite important in North America, and in Canada in particular, and I was recognized a lot there, often by French-speaking Canadians. One of them approached me and started to speak French fluently and I said to myself: “What is the…”. I said: ‘I don’t speak French’ and she said: ‘But you speak French fluently on the show’.
Johnny Barker’s last killer role
He portrayed one of New Zealand’s most notorious television killers and now Johnny Barker is back as a murder suspect in an episode of The Mysteries of Brokenwood (screening on Sunday, June 20).
His character, shamanic therapist Simon Silvercloud, a self-proclaimed peace and love guru with a long criminal record, is suspected when he is the last person to see a stressed businesswoman before she is murdered in a wellness retreat.
Whether his character has “dun-it” or not doesn’t matter to the man who became a household name in 2008 playing Shortland Street Joey Henderson, aka The Ferndale Strangler.
Barker is just thrilled to be back on New Zealand television after a rather dramatic comeback from Britain last year.
“My wife and I got pregnant so we decided to come back to New Zealand, the most beautiful place on Earth, to have our baby and be with our family and friends,” he says, adding that he has returned. in February, leaving his wife to follow him. three weeks later.
During those three weeks, the world changed as the Covid-19 pandemic accelerated.
“We were all terrified. We watch the airports close behind her, but she entered without a problem. Miles, our son, was born in confinement, ”said Barker, adding that once he realized he would be in New Zealand longer than expected, he asked his agent to find him job.
the Broken wood party was the first offered to him and he jumped at the chance to be a part of the show which he calls “Scooby-Doo for adults.”
“The show gets dark in places, but it’s pretty hot and loose,” Barker says. “And I think it’s really fun to watch the guest actors introduce themselves and have a little fun with them.”
Both a musician and an actor, Barker has had roles in Peak of Mercy and the horror film of 2003 The locals, the residents, before joining Shortland Street.
However, neither prepared him for the infamy that accompanied playing this show’s most memorable villain.
“When it all started it was super overwhelming and I didn’t really know how to react properly to the celebrity,” he says, attributing his wife, whom he had just met, to help him cope. invasion of it all.
“She watched me react to certain people in certain ways and said, ‘Whoa, you’re doing everything wrong. What these people are trying to do is make a brief connection with you ”. She taught me that a connection could be a wave or a handshake or a photograph or an autograph. She taught me to express myself and it came back in such a beautiful way. I am extremely grateful that she taught me to be famous.
More than a decade later, that advice is still needed.
“I’m known to be Joey in the strangest places. I was recognized during the lockdown when I got a mask on my face by a lady in a supermarket. “
Barker also credits the advice of Shortland Streett veteran Michael Galvin for helping him overcome the aftermath of his time on the show.
“He pulled me aside and said, ‘When you top the show and you’re very visible to the audience, once you go you’re not going to be cast for two years. You’re going to be too overexposed so find something else to do ”.
“His advice was right because I was thrown in Go girls almost two years later, exactly.
The Mysteries of Brokenwood, TVNZ 1, Sunday (starts Sunday, June 13)