Feel-good transtasman series 800 Words is back and Jonny Brughs real-estate agent Monty is now a core cast member. Russell Brown caught up with him as he was adding value to a real-life property.

Why has Monty caught on - do people love a battler?

I tried my best to play him with as much kindness as I could. I was making an effort for him to be likeable. He started off on the wrong foot - in the first episode he sold the wrong house and caused a big stir.

Every character in 800 Words is basically decent - which seems kind of a relief.


Yup. Theyre all just freaking about this and that.

The shows been screened in a few countries now. The New York Times liked it.

Bloody hell. Thats great! Hey, forgive me if Im a bit distracted. Im painting a fence. Im a fence-painter at the moment for a job and Im trying to go quite hard today, so I can stop.

So this is the life of an actor in New Zealand?

Yep. And its good. Its great being outside. Its great worrying about the weather. I painted another fence nearby last spring and put in a big garden with citrus trees and a pohutukawa.

Are you a self-taught landscaper?

Fake it. If you havent done it before, go online and research, then just apply yourself.

Is there something nice about being outdoors and having your own thoughts?

Yes, absolutely. This is how Im paying the bills and buying food but I also try to employ an assistant or a director to work on a whole lot of solo projects I need to be working on. Sometimes the only way to do that is to put time aside and pay people to be there too. Then you cant procrastinate. I can paint all day and have cool ideas, do a little dictaphone action here and there, but having a creative who pushes me through the making of the project is awesome. Im researching crowd-funding at the moment.

Do you have anything particular in mind to fund?

I want to make some screen projects: short-form character comedy stuff. Id like to make something a bit abstract and a bit punk.

Are you going to be in the What We Do in the Shadows TV spinoff?

Paranormal, with the two cops? I think I am. Nobody has said anything, but Ive heard unofficially that Im doing an erotic dance and Im interrupted by the cops.

You started out in comedy, now youre an actor. How do you think of yourself?

Still as a comedian. Although Im a terrible gag writer, so character comedian would probably be most accurate. Ive found I can act fairly well if I pay attention and learn my scripts properly. I think of myself as difficult to work with because Im always playful and probably a bit forgetful. I love the team sport thing but miss working on my own projects. Being a comedian is a bit frightening: youve just got to go for it.

Season 3 of 800 Words screens on TVNZ 1, Wednesdays 8.30pm.