My first job was ...

as an administration clerk for the Local Government Commission at the Department Of Internal Affairs. Yup, it was as exciting as it sounds - and that was back in the 80s, with brown ties and no computers.

It taught me ... Well, a lot of our job was restructuring city councils and changing the boundaries of their jurisdiction. Less or more power if you like. Certainly a good lesson in the ups and downs of a life in show biz.

My big break was ... getting the role of Lionel Skeggins on Shortland Street. My first scene was in drag. I couldn't have been very good. I was never asked to do that again.


The last job I quit ... the aforementioned job with the government. I thought I would trade stable, reliable, paid employment for a life of art, uncertainty, self-doubt and poverty. I've never looked back.

The most famous person I ever met ... I guess there've been a few but one favourite was Christopher Lee on The Lord Of The Rings. He was playing Saruman, in full wizard kit too. And he was tall. I'd grown up watching him in old Hammer Horror movies.

He was ... an amazing man. And very funny. He was just about to head off to play the evil Count Dooku in Star Wars. He was going to have a lightsaber duel with Yoda. He just said, "For some reason they think people want to see an 80-year-old man fighting a puppet." Read his autobiography, Lord Of Misrule. He's done stuff.

My best time on set was ... filming [TV series] 800 Words. I would just go to the most beautiful places in Auckland dressed as a policeman and work with nice, talented people. There are worse ways to spend the summer.

But the worst was ... my first ever stage show. I managed to cut my hand open. I thought it was okay but the other actors started slipping over on my blood. We carried on though. It wasn't that bad. I guess it was.

My dream role would be ... Willy Loman in the play Death Of A Salesman, that lovable loser. Or I'd be happy being the third Kiwi actor in The Boys series on Amazon Prime.

John Leigh stars in A War Story, part of TVNZ 1's Sunday Theatre, on August 25 at 8.30pm.