Shane Cortese is a Renaissance man. Yesterday he auctioned off a $5 million mansion.

Today he's modelling for photos; and, on Monday, you'll catch him on the telly with a big moustache, in the latest Westside.

Cortese is playing Danny, the father of his original Outrageous Fortune character, Hayden, with season four of the show currently screening.

In real life, he's an estate agent and nationwide auctioneer for Sotheby's International Realty.

He's also a man contemplating a move out of Auckland.

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"Absolutely," he says, when I ask if he's been checking out Mount Maunganui real estate.

"I sent (wife) Nerida a text this morning that said: 'Beautiful flight coming in (to Tauranga). It's quite warm down here, the beaches look golden; it's lovely. I'm just sayin'. It's always on the cards now that I don't have to be auditioning all the time."

He grew up in Tauranga, and has holidayed in Pāpāmoa for the past three summers.

He's been working for Sotheby's fulltime for two years, which he says has been a "new zest of life for me".

A lot of the parts he plays on television are legal-based, and the legalities of real estate, particularly auctions, he "adores and loves".

"I work hard, and I take it very seriously," he says.

He's looking the part in a preppy check suit, accessorised with a tan leather folder with a Sotheby's sticker on the front.

He periodically checks his cellphone. After this interview, he has to fly back to Auckland for an auction at 5pm, but he may stroll around Mauao in dress shoes, if there's time.

While his celebrity status gave him a leg-up in profile building for Sotheby's, notability, he says, is getting less and less now his hair is progressively getting greyer.

He turns 50 this month, and, when he acts, it's for roles and producers with whom he feels comfortable.

Cortese is playing Danny, the father of his original Outrageous Fortune character, Hayden, with season four of the show currently screening. Photo / Supplied by South Pacific Pictures
Cortese is playing Danny, the father of his original Outrageous Fortune character, Hayden, with season four of the show currently screening. Photo / Supplied by South Pacific Pictures

"(I'm) as selective as you can be in this country because there's not the quantity of work to be selective. But on shows that I've had a regular part in, we can work it out. I just say: 'Look, I'm out of the office for this day'."

He's starred in theatre, and in local TV dramas Nothing Trivial, Shortland Street, The Almighty Johnsons, Burying Brian and Step Dave.

As well as having just filmed for Westside, he's currently filming for The Brokenwood Mysteries.

He sang Mr Brightside in the shower this morning in preparation for performing in Cirque cabaret, Human, which is on in Auckland this weekend.

A stalwart of entertainment, he was a latecomer to acting. He started working life as a travel agent, pursuing drama in his downtime.

His first professional acting role was in England at age 24, in The Rocky Horror Show.

"That was the first time I got a paycheck - shitty pay cheque though."

Ten years of shitty paychecks later, he returned to New Zealand for a holiday, auditioned for Shortland Street, didn't get the part, and returned to London. Soon after, producers called him up to say they had written him into the show as bad-boy Dominic.

In his latest role on Westside - a prequel to Outrageous Fortune where he got his "big break", his character, Danny, is a father of seven, a lover of women and a brothel owner in the early 1980s.

Cortese as his original Outrageous Fortune character, Hayden. Photo / Supplied by South Pacific Pictures
Cortese as his original Outrageous Fortune character, Hayden. Photo / Supplied by South Pacific Pictures

"I've only once played a good guy, and that was on Nothing Trivial," Cortese says.

"I've said it from day one: 'If you're not going to be playing James Bond, you want to play a villain, right?' Because no one remembers the average guy."

But it's a hurried self-examination in the mirror nowadays before walking to set.

"I look in the mirror and go: 'Ah, s***', you know? I used to play all the nice-looking roles, and now look," he jokes. "Jesus Christ, I've got a moustache."

Cortese's nickname in Year 13 was Pretty Boy or "PB", bestowed on him by the First XV.

He was a "good boy" at school, and a voracious cricketer. He spent a lot of time frequenting Tauranga Girls' College. He "unashamedly" had a few girlfriends.

He would "desperately love" his sons to go to Tauranga Boys' College. He was there until the sixth form before being uprooted to move to Palmerston North, where his mum and step-dad bought the Majestic Hotel.

He remembers Tauranga's Max Heimann as the teacher who had the most impact on him, and still keeps in touch with teacher Rob Leslie.

Cortese will attend the Boys' College jubilee in October, and is still friends with many of his old school chums, including actor Erik Thomson, and Otumoetai old boy and actor Tim Balme.

Cortese and Balme used to run the video shop on Cameron Road at the weekends.

"That was a very busy weekend job. In fact, I used to do all the work, because Tim was a little bit older than me, and a bit cooler than me," he jibes. "Erik and his mates would come in and talk about the night before."

All three have gone on to become successful actors, but Cortese's greatest life achievement is fathering "lads" Kees and Jet, with wife, Nerida, who he famously met on Dancing with the Stars in 2005.

The pair were runners-up on the show and married in 2009 when Cortese was 41. He wears an original, Kiwi-designed wedding ring.

"I never got to see the dances that we did back then because it was pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook, pre-YouTube," he says.

He stumbled upon an old clip during the latest round of Dancing with the Stars, where he and Nerida, a producer on the 2018 series, were doing the rumba.

Cortese with wife, Nerida, who he famously met on Dancing with the Stars in 2005. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Cortese with wife, Nerida, who he famously met on Dancing with the Stars in 2005. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

"I'd never seen it before. I was sitting in my bedroom and I yelled out to my lads who are 11 and seven and I said: 'Boys! Come here, I want to show you where dad met mum'. And they got halfway through it and laughed, and (went) back to watch YouTube."

He and Nerida haven't danced since their wedding day medley, which was a "disaster", he notes.

"There was an awful lot of pressure. Can you imagine? Candy Lane was there, and Jason Gunn was there.

"When you're on Dancing with the Stars you've learnt this stuff by muscle memory, and you're nervous as s***. On our wedding, it was 10.30pm (and) I did the first third of it with Pete, my best man, when Nerida was sitting down. That's pretty much the last time we've danced.

"But I do absolutely love watching Nerida dance with professional dancers."

He also loves being a dad. He and Nerida lost a baby before going on to have their two boys. Cortese also has an adult daughter, Tammy, from a previous relationship, and she has Skylar, aged 5.

Cortese's eldest son, Kees, is on the Autism Spectrum, and Cortese is a patron of The Children's Autism Foundation.

Watching Kees' birth is still one of his most treasured memories. He says down the track he struggled to accept his boy was "on the spectrum".

One night he sat on Kees' bed and watched him sleep. In that moment, he desperately wished he could "take it away from him, and change him, or whatever".

"I realised (that) actually, I don't need to at all. He's perfect as he is, and all I've got to do is accept it, and welcome him, and be part of his life, rather than force him to be part of our life. As soon as that happened, life was so much different from there as a dad."

Life has always thrown surprises.

The Almighty Johnsons and Nothing Trivial shows were not renewed within a very short space of time, and Cortese found himself heading to Australia in 2015 in the hope of a break over there, but it didn't go well.

He was on a flight to Queenstown in June 2016, when manager of Sotheby's Chris Jones tapped him on the shoulder and proposed a career change.

He's now juggling that new job, and acting when the right role comes along.

He would love to have dinner with the actor he most admires, Hugh Jackman, and still has ambitions for things he would like to achieve.

Cortese's eldest son, Kees, is on the Autism Spectrum, and Cortese is a patron of The Children's Autism Foundation. Photo / Andrew Warner
Cortese's eldest son, Kees, is on the Autism Spectrum, and Cortese is a patron of The Children's Autism Foundation. Photo / Andrew Warner

If he could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, he says it would be to play the piano. Added to that, he would like to have the motivation to continually go running, and have "beautiful, flowing hair" that doesn't need looking after when you get up in the morning.

Looking back on his life, his favourite memory is the first time he played Rocky in The Rocky Horror Show, in London.

The elevator came up and 3000 audience members went nuts, screaming so loudly he was deafened.

"Everyone should have to go through that experience," he says. "That euphoria, and adrenaline, and nervousness, and harnessing it. It was incredible."

Back home, fame in New Zealand morphed into a different beast. He has a dedicated fan base - mostly middle-aged women - and social media has shown him that Kiwis aren't always kind.

"You don't become rich and famous, you become poor and well-known and hammered," he says. "I suppose I've got to a level in my career where people do recognise me through the work I've done, and I believe that fame should be a byproduct of good work."

He's not a fan of reality TV.

"That to me yells at low self-esteem," he says.

"Being on the television, what do you think it's going to do for you? Get you a table at a restaurant? Nup, it doesn't. I'm lucky enough to be in a position I can stand up and talk about autism - that's what fame means to me."


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# Season four of Westside is on Mondays, 8.30pm on Three.