It's a case of NZ writing royalty meets NZ acting royalty when the bold new psychological thriller The Bad Seed launches on TVNZ1 in mid-April.
Based on a series of books by award-winning New Zealand author, Charlotte Grimshaw, The Bad Seed stars Dean O'Gorman, Matt Minto and Madeleine Sami, plus a star-studded guest cast featuring Amanda Billing, Michelle Langstone, Calvin Tuteao, Chelsie Preston-Crayford and Xavier Horan.
The Bad Seed scripts were co-written by another well-known NZ author and magazine columnist, Sarah-Kate Lynch.
The story involves two brothers, Simon (Minto) and Ford (O'Gorman) from the same dysfunctional family who have raised themselves up from the desperate days of their early childhood, only to have their newly ordered lives begin to fall apart when one becomes a suspect in a crime. Sami, in a role darker than we generally see her in, plays the cop hell-bent on bringing the brothers down.
Grimshaw, a former lawyer turned author, and the daughter of CK Stead, has worked across the show at an advisory level and has been impressed with the calibre of the cast.
"I think the actors are terrific — charismatic and compelling. I'm really impressed. So many of them have captured the essence of the characters I invented, with great skill," Grimshaw says.
The show also launches some new talent worth keeping an eye out for.
Keporah Torrance plays Mereana, a young woman who gets caught up by accident in the crime investigations. Torrance's surname might be recognisable to some; she's the daughter of actor Kirk Torrance who played Detective Judd in Outrageous Fortune.
Keporah, mother to a young daughter, enjoyed the intensive process of working on a psychological thriller alongside such experienced actors.
"I learnt so much during the filming of this show and worked with some really amazing people, both in crew and cast," she says. "I filmed quite a lot with Matt (Minto), and Dean and Madeleine were in a few of my scenes as well, it was quite surreal to look at the calibre of the actors I was working with and to realise that I was alongside them making such a great show."
Another fresh face is that of Vinnie Bennett who plays Sami's cop colleague, Detective Bennett. He is currently based in LA with his girlfriend, actress Frankie Adams, and was selected as one of four "Rising Stars" at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 for his work on the award-winning film Human Traces.
The recognition has opened many doors for Bennett in the States and he's recently wrapped filming on a new pilot series about rodeo. But coming home to work on The Bad Seed was a highlight for the young actor.
"I don't get much time to get back home to New Zealand very often these days, so having a working excuse to head home was really fantastic," he says.
"When I got the role, Frankie was on hiatus from filming The Expanse (an international sci-fi series in which Adams has a lead role,) so we made the trek home and had an awesome winter hanging out with friends and family. I really loved working with everyone on this show — it was just such a delight."
Sami, who has recently returned from a Netflix junket in America to publicise The Breaker Upperers alongside Jackie Van Beek, says she also loved working on The Bad Seed.
"It was really great for me to do a straight-up serious role, especially coming off the back of The Breaker Upperers and having been focused on comedy for such a long period," she tells Spy. "Vinnie Bennett, who's my second-in-command on the show is a joy to work with and to watch work, and the rest of the cast are just amazing.'