Rugby-mad actor says he is relishing the chance to play the lead.
He was announced this week as a tour ambassador for the next Rugby World Cup, but All Blacks hero Stephen Donald is also in New Zealand preparing for surgery on his leg and consulting on a television movie in which he is the star.
The Kick, a Great Southern Television production for TV One's Sunday Theatre, follows Donald's life and rugby career and his famous kick that led to the Kiwis winning the World Cup for the first time in 24 years. Production is under way in a studio outside Auckland and 31-year-old actor David de Lautour has been cast to play 30-year-old Donald.
De Lautour, who was born in Christchurch but now calls Los Angeles home, has appeared in a string of Hollywood television series, including NCIS: Los Angeles, Hart of Dixie and Beauty and the Beast.
He has been forced to undergo footy training for his latest role but the rugby-mad actor says he is relishing the chance to play the lead in the biopic.
"I am a huge rugby fan so it's pretty exciting to return to New Zealand to play an All Black. I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be a quintessential Kiwi story with heart, and to get to throw around a rugby ball at work too," de Lautour told The Diary.
The actor has been spending quality time with Donald over a few beers. Donald has been adding private anecdotes and background details. Having the opportunity to observe Donald first-hand is a welcome opportunity for the actor, who tried to develop his own rugby project for the small screen.
In 2011, as an aspiring filmmaker, de Lautour raised more than $8000 via crowd-funding page Kickstarter to make a small documentary on the Kiwis in the World Cup through his production company Tool Shed Productions.
The Kick, a two-hour drama which received $2.8 million of funding by NZ On Air, will feature a variety of actors playing the All Blacks team.
Casting details on the roles of captain Richie McCaw, coach Graham Henry and Donald's girlfriend Alex, a nurse and keen equestrian rider, are yet to be announced.
Great Southern Television is staying tight-lipped about the production, and a rep for TVNZ would not reveal further details.
Donald has entered New Zealand sporting history as the man who saved the nation. A biopic on his life is sure to become a Kiwi cult classic. His modesty is just as legendary.
Donald, wearing his standard uniform of shorts, hoodie and jandals, found himself the unwarranted centre of attention on the Air New Zealand flight home to Auckland from Japan last week.
The pilot welcomed him over the loud speaker and the entire plane of passengers and flight attendants erupted in mad applause.
The rugby legend just blushed.
Drinking Mt Smart dry?
Bruce Springsteen fans are hard rockers but did they drink Mt Smart stadium dry on Saturday night? Paul Henry complained the stadium ran out of wine on Sunday night for the Bruce Springsteen concert.
"They drank two nights worth of wine on Saturday," he told viewers on his show on Monday night.
Paul Brewer, external relations manager for Auckland's Regional Facilities, told The Diary he was looking into the allegation.
Stadium management director Paul Nisbet was seeking answers from Spotless, who have the catering contract for Auckland's premier parks.
Cabinet Minister Judith Collins, who attended Sunday night's gig, told The Diary she had "two little glasses of wine and mostly Diet Coke". She added: "Before I learned to love the Blues, I was a rock chick."
The concert also brought out old rocker David Cunliffe, who is also unlikely to have contributed to any tipple shortage.
Henry attended Saturday night's Springsteen concert from the comfort of a corporate suite.
He had his pic taken with league legend Graham Lowe and displayed it on air.
Mayor Len Brown is snapped in the background of the photo, without a heckling protester or duck caller in sight.
"I've invited Len on the show numerous times and this was the first time he appeared," Henry laughed.
Owen's bailing a bitter pill
TVNZ news boss John Gillespie has issued a fatwa to his media people: don't talk to other media. The newsroom has sprung leaks and its skipper is plugging holes and trying to keep the boat afloat. He is on the hunt for loose lips and treachery.
Perhaps Gillespie would be better off spending that time keeping closer tabs on his newsroom so basic journalistic principles are adhered to.
Life rafts have been issued following the titanic disasters recently of Shane Taurima (mixing Labour party business at TVNZ) and Peter Williams (faking a cyber bullying message) that have left the editorial integrity of the network flailing.
Now veteran journalist Lisa Owen has bailed ship.
She is One News' biggest asset but was oddly overlooked for the presenting role on the network's political current affairs show Q+A, which went to outsider Rachel Smalley without being advertised internally. Owen is a personal friend of Gillespie's.
A source said her defection to rival TV3 is a bitter pill for him to swallow. He's taking it hard.
Derby Day brings TV lovelies
Also partying at TV3 Derby Day at Ellerslie on Saturday was a slew of pretty TV types, including Toni Street, Brooke Dobson, Amanda Gillies, Mike McRoberts and Rose Matafeo.
Anchorwoman Hilary Barry, who was wearing a stylish towering hat in shades of cream, joked that her sons had likened it to a triceratops. Her boss Paul Maher, TV3's affable chief executive, gave a roaring speech to the crowd and promised a further 20-year commitment in sponsorship by the network. Expect more glamour today for Auckland Cup Day.