Famous New Zealanders

New Zealand actors and filmmakers who have made their mark on the international stage.
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1.
Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8 movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies, which he made with his friends...
 
2.
Russell Crowe
Actor, Gladiator
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English...
 
3.
Sam Neill
Sam Neill was born in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to army parents, an English-born mother, Priscilla Beatrice (Ingham), and a New Zealand-born father, Dermot Neill. His family moved to the South Island of New Zealand in 1954. He went to boarding schools and then attended the universities at Canterbury and Victoria...
 
4.
Jane Campion
Writer, The Piano
Jane Campion was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and now lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Having graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1975, and a BA, with a painting major, at Sydney College of the Arts in 1979, she began filmmaking in the early 1980s...
 
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Vincent Ward
Writer, Alien³
Vincent Ward has produced, executive produced and/or written and directed feature films including What Dreams May Come (Which won an Oscar and was nominated for 2 Academy Awards), The River Queen (Won best film in Shanghai) and The Last Samurai (4 Academy Award nominations and winner of Best Foreign Film in Japan) developing the underlying material he chose the director...
 
6.
Anna Paquin
Actress, The Piano
Anna Paquin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1982, to Mary (Brophy), an English teacher from Wellington, New Zealand, and Brian Paquin, a Canadian phys-ed teacher of part French-Canadian descent. Anna moved to her mother's native country when she was four years old. Her first acting job ever was at age nine in the film The Piano...
 
7.
Cliff Curtis
Cliff Curtis was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, on July 27, 1968. He is of New Zealand Maori descent (with Ngati Hauiti and Te Arawa tribal affiliations). He enrolled at the New Zealand Drama School, and then the Teatro Dmitri Scoula in Switzerland. After returning to New Zealand from Europe, he was cast in The Piano...
 
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Jemaine Clement
Jemaine Clement was born and raised in New Zealand, the oldest of three brothers. His mother is a Maori. Clement was educated at Makoura College in Masterton, NZ. He went on to study drama and film at Victoria University of Wellington. Whilst there he met Taika Waititi, and they formed comedy troupes So You're a Man and The Humourbeasts...
 
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Andrew Niccol
New Zealand-born screenwriter-director Andrew Niccol began his career in London, successfully directing TV commercials before moving to Los Angeles in order to make films "longer than 60 seconds." He interested high-powered producer Scott Rudin in his The Truman Show script, but Rudin was not willing to gamble on a rookie director...
 
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Lee Tamahori
Director, Die Another Day
Beginning as a commercial artist and photographer, he joined the New Zealand film industry in the late 1970s as a boom operator. He became an assistant director a decade later. Making international award-winning commercials for 10 years, he has also directed several TV series. His first feature film, Once Were Warriors, won the PEN First Book Award.
 
16.
Temuera Morrison
Morrison was born in the town of Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand, the son of Hana (née Stafford) and Laurie Morrison, a musician. He is of Maori, Scottish, and Irish descent. His sister was performer Taini Morrison and his uncle was musician Sir Howard Morrison. His secondary education took place at Wesley College...
 
17.
Karl Urban
Originally from Wellington, New Zealand, Karl Urban now lives in Auckland. Born on June 7, 1972, he is the son of a leather-goods manufacturer (who had hoped that Karl would follow in his footsteps). His first acting role was when he was 8 -- he had a line on a television series. However, he did not act again until after high school...
 
18.
Melanie Lynskey
Actress, Up in the Air
At 16 years of age, Melanie Lynskey captivated audiences with her explosive debut in Peter Jackson's Academy Award-nominated Heavenly Creatures, scooping a Best Actress prize at the New Zealand Film and TV Awards for her portrayal of an outcast teen whose relationship with her best friend (Kate Winslet) spirals dangerously out of control...
 
19.
Lucy Lawless
New Zealand icon Lucy Lawless, is most famously known for her role as "Xena the Warrior Princess". Lucy is married to producer Rob Tapert (Robert Gerard Tapert) and resides in New Zealand. They have two sons, Julius Robert Bay Tapert and Judah Miro Tapert, who were both born in New Zealand. Lucy also has a daughter, Daisy Lawless, from her first marriage to Garth Lawless...
 
20.
Martin Henderson
Actor, The Ring
Martin Henderson was born in Auckland, New Zealand. He began acting when he was age 13, appearing in Strangers, a local television production. He attended Westlake Boys High School and Birkenhead Primary. He first became a star in his home country, when he starred in the series, Shortland Street, playing the character Stuart Neilson from 1992 to 1995...
 
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Alan Dale
Actor, Neighbours
Alan Dale was born on May 6, 1947 in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand. He is best known for his eight year role as Jim Robinson in the long running Australian soap opera Neighbours, played Caleb in the hit Fox series The O.C., featured on Lost and has a long list of recurring roles...
 
25.
Marton Csokas
Marton was born in Invercargill, Aotearoa, to Margaret Christine (Rayner), a nurse, and Márton Csókás, a mechanical engineer. His father is Hungarian and his mother is Australian (of English, Irish, and Danish origin). He inherited some of his talents from his father, a trained opera singer and at one time, a trapeze artist in the Hungarian Circus...
 
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Rebecca Gibney
Rebecca Gibney was born in New Zealand on December 14, 1964. At 19 she crossed the Tasman-sea and she is now one of Australia's most appreciated actresses. Before she decided to go into acting she worked as a model and had small jobs in New Zealand. Her break-through came in Australia with her role...
 
28.
Danielle Cormack
Actress, Wentworth
Danielle Cormack is an award-winning actress who has an extensive career in film, theatre and television. After a vast career in New Zealand, she quickly came to prominence in Australia with her powerhouse performances in television series; Wentworth, Rake and Underbelly: Razor. Other television credits include Xena - Warrior Princess...
 
29.
Richard O'Brien
Born in Cheltenham, England, Richard Smith's family moved to Tauranga, New Zealand, in 1951 when his father, an accountant, decided to become a sheep farmer. Watching horror and science-fiction double features in nearby Hamilton, Smith added an interest in acting to his love of rock and roll. He moved back to England in 1964...
 
30.
Nyree Dawn Porter
Nyree Dawn Porter was born in New Zealand. She left New Zealand in the late 50s to seek her fortune. She is the star of The Forsyte Saga.
 
33.
Bruno Lawrence
His diverse talents made this New Zealander a cult icon in his relatively short life. Born in Brighton, England, Bruno Lawrence (real name David Lawrence) settled in New Zealand as a pre-schooler and developed an early interest in the drums. He formed a dixie-land band at age 15 and made the various school and church dance rounds where he picked up the nickname Bruno...
 
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