The father of Kiwi comic Jemaine Clement has spoken publicly for the first time about his "strong and loving" relationship with his son.

The director and actor's father, Robert Clement, is a stained-glass artist who lives a quiet life in Midhirst, a small settlement north of Stratford, Taranaki.

Mr Clement said when his son was back home, he was "just one of the family; a brother, a cousin".

Midhirst was a "very small place" and the pair would go to the pub for lunch. His son was often recognised when they were out.

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"Once I was walking with him down the street, he had a full beard and he still got recognised by a teenage girl ... I wouldn't have even recognised him."

When the pair were together, there were things to talk about other than work.

"I don't want to ask him what he's working on. We email, but when he's home he's not sitting in front of the TV going, 'It's me, it's me'. He's just an ordinary, talented lad."

Mr Clement said his son didn't have an ego; it was his natural ability that had made him successful.

Huge success: Clement with his Flight of the Conchords co-star Bret McKenzie.
Huge success: Clement with his Flight of the Conchords co-star Bret McKenzie.

The Kiwi actor was raised by his mother and grandmother.

"I went through a bad patch in my life - I became an alcoholic when I was working in the freezing works ... I had to cut it loose or I would have damaged the family home," said Mr Clement.

The father said the pair shared a "strong and loving" relationship now.

"It's a blessing from the good Lord to have a son like him."

Mr Clement added that he was glad his son was being recognised for his talents in the United States, as it was "a small pond in New Zealand".

"I see him as a rising star, he's 44, but he's still rising ... I'd like to see him in a cowboy role, they've always been one of my boyhood heroes."

While Jemaine Clement is at home on the big screen, his father is quietly making his own mark on the cinema world with a stained-glass commission for the TET Kings Theatre in Stratford.

Mr Clement was asked to design a three-panel piece to help return the movie theatre to its former glory in time for its centenary celebrations next year.

"It is a beautiful theatre, and it is a place we should treasure. Movies are something we can all enjoy. Having a place to come and watch them is important."

Clement at Cannes for the premiere of The BFG with Rebecca Hall, Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill and Steven Spielberg. Photo / Getty Images
Clement at Cannes for the premiere of The BFG with Rebecca Hall, Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill and Steven Spielberg. Photo / Getty Images

Mr Clement is a self-taught stained glass artist - "it's been about 30 years now I have been doing it" - and he settled in his studio at Midhirst about seven years ago.

"I live and work there, it is a nice place, I can be alone and get on with my art."

He's not always alone in the studio - his boy visits when his schedule allows, "but he doesn't like a fuss, he just wants to get on with things and be himself".

He said he would love to take his famous son to a movie screening in Stratford's historic theatre.

"It would be quite funny wouldn't it, if we went to see a film he was starring in, and we went to see it in a movie theatre where my stained glass is at the entrance."

Mr Clement described his son as a great man and said he didn't want to ride on the coat-tails of his fame.

"I'm just a modest stained-glass-maker, I don't want any recognition for my son's work."

Jemaine Clement played a giant in Steven Spielberg's version of Roald Dahl's The BFG.

The film is set to open in New Zealand cinemas next week.