Former Shortland Street actor Tane Williams-Accra is about to close the gap of separation with one of his acting idols as he prepares for a new stage role.

Williams-Accra has scored the demanding role of Paul in Auckland Theatre Company's upcoming season of Six Degrees of Separation, which will play this August at the ASB Waterfront Theatre.

Six Degrees of Separation not only gave rise to the popular modern catchphrase, but also stunned audiences with its harsh satire of class and race relations in 1990.

Tane Williams-Accra is hoping
Tane Williams-Accra is hoping "word gets back" to Will Smith about his performance. Photo / Supplied.

It was adapted into an acclaimed film in 1993 that starred Will Smith in the role of Paul, a skilful con-artist who mysteriously appears, injured and bleeding, at the apartment door of two Manhattan socialites one night, claiming to be a close college friend of their Ivy League kids.

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Williams-Accra says he hasn't watched the movie, not wanting any of his character's choices to be based on Smith's performance.

"It's an honour to be a part of a play that has had such a successful existence around the world. Will Smith is one of my idols, so if somehow word got back to him of the kid from New Zealand that gave him a run for his money, that would be great."

Accra-Williams will make his ATC debut alongside stage legend Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who plays Paul's host, Ouisa Kittredge, a woman who is all about keeping up appearances in high-society New York.

- Ricardo Simich