Sione's Wedding was a phenomenon when it released in 2006, and now movie creators Oscar Kightley and James Griffin have gone back to the future with a new prequel comedy series for TV2, based on the much-loved stars from the movie. Spy can reveal the new talent who will take over the reins of these infamous characters.
The series, called Duckrockers, which has begun filming at South Pacific Pictures for TVNZ 2, has big shoes to fill. The original film had the biggest opening weekend of any New Zealand film at the time, taking around $630,000 at the box office in its first weekend and, despite heavy piracy, which began before the film was released, it went on to gross more than $4.1 million.
The movie's sequel, Sione's 2: Unfinished Business, broke the record for a NZ film for the four-day weekend, grossing more than $775,000 on debut.
Like his other prequel, where the clock was turned back on Outrageous Fortune to create Westside, Griffin is carefully getting the Duckrockers time-warp just right. The series will follow five young Pasifika teenagers living in inner-city Auckland during the mid-1980s. It's a coming-of-age vibe, as the break-dancing boppers enjoy a last summer of fun before they become "real, actual men" over eight half-hour episodes.
The original cast was a veritable who's who of actors, including Kightley himself as hapless but loveable Albert, alongside his buddies for life, Robbie Magasiva as Michael, Iaheto Ah Hi as Stanley, Shimpal Lelisi as Sefa and Dave Fane as Bolo. Household names came out of the female cast too, Teuila Blakely and Madeleine Sami starred as Leilani and Tania respectively in both movies.
Casting directors spent last summer scouring for the younger version of the cast, turning up some fresh faces.
Most recognisable of the new cast will be Duane Evans jnr, who plays the younger version of Magasiva's character, Michael. The actor recently returned to NZ after several years filming on James Cameron's new series of big-budget Avatar films, which are set to launch this year. Before that, he spent several years starring on Shortland Street as the young son of Robbie's brother, the late Pua Magasiva's character Vinnie, also named Michael. He's also appeared in The Legend of Baron To'a and Netflix's Sweet Tooth.
The exciting new talent found from the search, include brothers Augustino and Levi Nansen Ieremia-Seulu as Albert and Sefa. Augustino was literally "discovered" when he dropped younger brother Levi off for his audition. He had no plans to act, but soon found himself projected into another world when the casting team watched him read against his brother in the audition room and decided he had what it took to take on the role made famous by Kightley.
Kightley, who wrote the series and is directing it, is ecstatic about the calibre of talent that the show has discovered.
"This is such an exciting young cast," he tells Spy.
"One of the goals of the series was to unearth fresh awesome talent. And this cast is packed with that."
Rounding up the amazing young group of talented actors is Rocky Manusaute, who will play Bolo, Dallas Latogia Malo Halavaka, who will play Stanley, and two fierce young actresses, Tiare Lily Savea, who will recreate Blakely's Leilani and Head High actress Lilo Vaigafa, who will play newcomer to the Duckrockers club, Lupe.
Show co-producers Mario Gaoa and Elizabeth Mitchell, of Bro'Town fame, couldn't be more excited about the cast that they have put together for this new series.
"We are absolutely thrilled and humbled to share Duckrockers with Aotearoa and the world," says Gaoa.
"The chance to see a new wave of young Pasifika talent work on set, alongside some of our most celebrated actors, is inspiring"
The series is currently in production and is set to launch later in 2022. Rumour has it, many of the original Sione's actors will also be making cameo appearances as the show progresses. It's going to be a star-studded event.