One of the stars of Amazon Studios' Lord of the Rings got the VIP treatment from toy billionaire Nick Mowbray.
Ismael Cruz Cordova shot to stardom in The Undoing alongside Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. The 33-year-old Puerto Rican-born US actor also starred alongside Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie in Mary Queen of Scots and is in New Zealand for several months filming the LOTR series.
He is one of a cast of overseas stars who will spend Christmas in New Zealand as they work on what is tipped to be one of the most expensive television series ever made.
Mowbray choppered Cordova to Waiheke for lunch at Tantalus Estate last Sunday. In the group of six were Mowbray's partner Jaimee Lupton, media couple Anna and Jay Reeve and makeup artist to the stars Michael Ashton. Anna Reeve and Ashton won "best dressed" at the annual Mowbray costume party this year with amazing outfits for the theme Out of this World, and Spy understands the lunch was part of the prize.
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Ashton, who is most famous for the signature look of music superstar Adele, is no stranger to film sets, which is where it is understood he met Cordova. The pair hung out at Halloween and had lunch together at Soul Bar earlier this month.
The cast and crew of LOTR have two weeks off for the Christmas break and then return in the New Year to the West Auckland studios where much of the movie is being filmed. In the new year another international big name will join the cast here - legendary British comedian Sir Lenny Henry is coming to NZ, though it's not clear what role he will play yet. The TV series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth before the events of the Lord of the Rings novel and films - and a second season has been ordered even though the first will not screen until late next year.
The show also boasts a fair chunk of local talent. Top of the Lake actor Kip Chapman, Former Shortland St star Alex Tarrant and Westside's Peter Tait are among the Kiwis to have scored roles in the ensemble cast.