Temuera Morrison


Boasting brooding good looks which have allowed him to play both edgy heroes and fearsome villains, Temuera Morrison is one of New Zealand's best-recognized actors, and perhaps the most visible Maori performer in the world. Morrison was born in the tourist community of Rotorua; his instincts as a performer came naturally, given his father's career as a musician and the fact his uncle, Sir Howard Morrison, was one of the nation's best-loved entertainers. After completing high school, Morrison briefly worked with his uncle, but before long he decided to go into acting, and studied drama through New Zealand's Special Performing Arts Training Scheme. Morrison's SPATS training led to his first film role, in the drama Other Halves, and in 1988 he got to show some comic flair in the James Bond parody Never Say Die. In 1993, Morrison was hired as the Maori dialogue advisor on the international hit The Piano, but his big break came a year later, when Morrisonwas cast as Jake Heke, an alcoholic and abusive Maori husband and father, in the acclaimed drama Once Were Warriors. Morrison's vivid performance won him the Best Actor trophy at the 1994 New Zealand Film and TV Awards, and the attention brought Morrison to Hollywood. However, Morrison's initial American roles were in a handful of would-be blockbusters which died on the vine commercially speaking, including Barb Wire, The Island of Dr. Moreau, and Speed 2: Cruise Control. However, Morrison fared better at the box office with 2000's Vertical Limit, and the year before he made a triumphant return to New Zealand to star in the sequel to Once Were Warriors, What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? The film did not receive the same degree of international attention as the original, but it was popular and well-reviewed in New Zealand, and Morrison's second turn as Jake won him another Best Actor prize from the New Zealand Film and TV Awards. Morrison landed his biggest hit in 2002, when he was cast as Jango Fett in the eagerly anticipated Star Wars: Episode Two -- Attack of the Clones. ~ Mark Deming