Weekend Rewind: NZ's greatest screen characters

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Inspired by the upcoming re-make of Goodbye Pork Pie and the film's legendary Blondini character, NZ On Screen's Nicky Harrop selects six of our greatest New Zealand screen characters from through the years.
Kelly Johnson and Tony Barry in Goodbye Pork Pie.
Kelly Johnson and Tony Barry in Goodbye Pork Pie.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes a film or television character so memorable they become iconic, but we've had our share of them here in New Zealand. Pork Pie's Blondini is certainly one of them, and Julian Dennison's Ricky Baker in new hit film Hunt for the Wilderpeople could be on his way to the great New Zealand screen characters hall of fame as we speak.

Released in 1981, the original Goodbye Pork Pie changed the face of New Zealand cinema, and loveable larrikin Gerry Austin, played by Kelly Johnson and nicknamed Blondini, has left an indelible mark on our memories.

Watch the trailer and an excerpt from Goodbye Pork Pie here:



Three years on from Pork Pie, and another much-loved comedy film, Came a Hot Friday, brought us another legendary screen character - the brilliant Billy T James as Mexican-Māori bandito The Tainuia Kid.

See Billy T as The Tainuia Kid in this excerpt from Came a Hot Friday:



Two years later, our first animated feature film saw a beloved Kiwi character make the leap from comic strip to screen. Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale made a movie star of Murray Ball's The Dog, and gave us another of our favourite screen characters.

View the trailer for Footrot Flats: The Dog's (Tail) Tale here:



Of course, our great screen characters don't all come from film. The small screen has also thrown up a few contenders, and one of them began her TV reign in 1987 with the debut of glamour soap Gloss. Wielding put downs as sharp as her shoulder pads, Maxine Redfern (Ilona Rodgers) was the undisputed 1980s screen queen in New Zealand. Nearly 30 years on, and still few on screen can carry a withering look, or a power suit, as well.

Watch the debut episode of Gloss here:

Gloss - First Episode

In 1994, Once Were Warriors' Jake the Muss was a career-defining role for Temuera Morrison, bringing to life one of our most memorable film characters along the way. Central to Warriors and its sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? - Jake's story of brutality and redemption remains one of the most raw and uncompromising seen on screen here.

See Temuera Morrison as Jake Heke in the trailer for What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? here:



In 2005, we got another TV matriarch who rivalled the impact of Gloss's Maxine, when Cheryl West and her big heart and leopard-print outfits arrived on our screens in Outrageous Fortune. In this NZ On Screen ScreenTalk interview, award-winning actress Robyn Malcolm talks about playing Cheryl and how a great character can change the way we see ourselves on screen.

Watch Robyn Malcolm's ScreenTalk interview here:



- NZ Herald

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