How Hayden Crowhurst went from Whanganui to Hollywood

By Liz Wylie -
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Castlecliff export Aaron Jackson is looking forward to a home visit soon.
Castlecliff export Aaron Jackson is looking forward to a home visit soon.

A little boy who dreamed big dreams in Castlecliff has grown up to play a part in a Hollywood fantasy film.

Whanganui boy Aaron Jackson will be seen in the David Lowery film adaptation of Pete's Dragon due to open in New Zealand on September 15.

A qualified builder and firefighter, Aaron was "discovered" while working on an Auckland building site.

"A casting director who walked past the site said I had an interesting face and asked if I was willing to do some acting.

"I actually said 'no' at first but she persisted and I agreed to go to an audition."

That was in 2011 and in the past five years, the 36-year-old has been seen in a number of NZ film and TV roles including playing bad boy Hayden Crowhurst on Shortland Street.

His first role was in the 2011 TV film Rage playing a "burly man" in a story set against the backdrop of the 1981 Springbok tour.

More recently, he played All Black Kieran Read in the 2014 TV film The Kick.

Aaron Jackson at the Hollywood premiere of Pete's Dragon.
Aaron Jackson at the Hollywood premiere of Pete's Dragon.

"When I am not acting, I am a firefighter in the New Zealand Fire Service," says Aaron.

Although he did not have formal training as an actor, Aaron was already a performer having fronted a Wellington cover band for five years.

"Growing up in Castlecliff, I always knew I wanted to go and see the world and have big adventures," says Aaron.

"My only performance, though, was a in a school production at Wanganui Intermediate."

Aaron attended St Augustine College (now Cullinane) and said he was a member of the "Morgan St Mafia".

"We were the kids who liked to go surfing and that's what we called ourselves."

He may have been to Hollywood but Aaron said he still loves his home town and suburb.

His mum, Glenys, still lives in Castlecliff and Aaron said he will he be coming to visit her soon.

He will be putting his building skills to good use and helping with her house renovations.

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