Gracie Taylor is an entertainment writer for the New Zealand Herald.

Meet Darryl Walker, the star of a new Kiwi web series you need to see

Chronic self-doubt stars in a new series, writes Gracie Taylor.

You may remember him from his popular television series Auckland Daze or his award-winning comedy show The Millen Baird Show.

Or perhaps his appearances in Being Eve and The Almighty Johnsons. However, actor, writer and director Millen Baird has a new series about to launch: Darryl: An Outward Bound Story.

Baird's new character Darryl Walker is a lost soul with a handlebar moustache.

An aspiring long-distance runner, Darryl collapsed during the closing stages of the Taranaki Mountain to Surf Marathon and became an internet sensation for all the wrong reasons. Ever since that shameful day his self-esteem went down the drain.

The only thing that keeps him going is his obsession to win the next marathon. So he enrols in an Outward Bound "8-Day Adult Discovery" course at the famed location of Anakiwa in the South Island.

Baird says he got the idea when he went to Outward Bound in 2001 "as a Christmas present from my parents with a gentle word in my ear saying you 'better start doing something'.

"I thought it was the worst Christmas present anyone could have bought me. But over the next few days I kind of had a shift in mindset ... you do a whole bunch of random activities with people from all walks of life, it kind of set some sort of light inside me and I took a lot away from it.

"Then in 2006 I said to the CEO of Outward Bound, 'Look, if you sponsor me to do another course I'll write a one-man show' and I never did, ha ha."

He eventually got around to writing and producing - and starring in - the web series Darryl: An Outward Bound Story which will broadcast online this month.

Baird chose his cast and crew based on New Zealand actors he has worked with in the past, including Shavaughn Ruakere, Fasitua Amosa, Owen Black, Rachel Blampied, Toby Sharpe, Glen Levy, John Argall, and his wife, Siobhan Marshall.

Siobhan Marshall plays an Australian network marketer.
Siobhan Marshall plays an Australian network marketer.

"Yeah it was a cool group of people. We were all committed and we were making this off the smell of an oily rag. But we were grateful for the 100K [from NZ On Air]. But what we were making was certainly ambitious for the budget. But I did it for my love of Outward Bound. "

The Darryl crew came across a few challenges over the 12-day shoot.

"It's interesting when you are thrust into the sailing at the start of course. The leaders emerge you know, then there are the followers... I am certainly a follower. Sailing and moving forward into the wind is beyond me. I certainly struggled in that facet of the course.

"Everyone who was cast in the show had to do the Outward Bound '8 Day Discovery' course and then we pretty much just filmed it ...

"We were pretty much just going 'rip, shit and bust'. You know, like one or two takes then we're out of there."

Does he share character traits with Darryl?

"I am a bit of a dreamer like him. He has a voice inside his head that is trying to psych him out and I wouldn't say mine is as prominent as his. I have been through periods of chronic self-doubt... so I wanted to bring that into it.

"I think Darryl is just trying to fit in and he is looking for acceptance from all these guys on the course who really think he's a bit of a running joke - so to speak."

Baird hasn't called New Zealand home since September last year.

He and wife Marshall recently moved hemispheres, to LA. "I have always wanted to work with her and she has a pretty killer Australian accent, so we made her an Aussie network marketer and, yeah, she is pretty hilarious in this one.

"She's almost unrecognisable when she puts on the accent, so it was a bit of a thrill to be working with her... it was a lot of fun."

The cast on the Outward Bound course.
The cast on the Outward Bound course.

He's loving life in the United States but admits he hasn't quite "made it" yet in Hollywood.

"Made it? Nah, we are just hanging on. I think the move for us is that we wanted a wee bit of a change and a bit of an adventure and we certainly are getting that."

"But by no means is there a feeling of 'making it'. We are making it up, we certainly have a feeling of that."


All episodes of Darryl: An Outward Bound Story are available to stream on TVNZ On Demand from March 27.

Millen Baird is also a panellist on the TVNZ New Blood Web Series Competition - entries close on March 31.

- Weekend magazine

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