Kevin Smith
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"There are defining moments in Geoff's life that shaped him, first as a young man and later as he ages," explains Kevin Smith of his character in CHANNELLING baby. "He's a good guy who bad stuff happens to."

As a young soldier Geoff is sent to Vietnam, so the rest of his life is deeply affected by that experience. "I don't think anyone is the same as they were twenty years ago and that's a natural aging thing, but Geoff's painful past and the way he handles life slowly becomes more sophisticated," Smith continues.

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The role is quite a departure for the actor who began his industry career as a stand-up comedian before achieving worldwide recognition as Ares in the Pacific Renaissance television series "Hercules", "Xena" and "Young Hercules".

"CHANNELLING baby is not the type of work you are able to enjoy on a regular basis, especially something as layered as this," he admits. "But it was a chance to put myself in a stringent environment where I was forced to confront unfamiliar areas."

"Quite often characters are not allowed this level of development. It's just so rich, and something which, as an actor, I don't do filmicly very often. I’ve been the generic bad guy in New Zealand so this role really allowed me a chance to flex myself. You don't usually get that opportunity outside the theatre."

Smith has performed in a number of diverse theatrical roles from The Court Theatre Company's "Glengarry Glenross" to the lead roles in "Cabaret" and Michael Hurst's production of "Othello" at the Watershed Theatre. He has also starred in the film "Desperate Remedies", opposite Jennifer Ward-Lealand; the tele-feature "Old Scores"; the long-running television serial "Shortland Street"; "Gloss" and the US production "FX The Series".

A talented singer and guitarist, Smith is currently thrilling audiences nationwide with his star-studded band "The Wide Lapels" with whom he played at the 1998 TV Guide Television Awards, which he also hosted, both this year and last.

His attraction to CHANNELLING baby began "once I read the first couple of pages of the script and got hooked. As the script progressed there was a new level of attraction each time. Sometimes I'd pick up the page or a piece of dialogue and it was like 'woah, someone's just walked over my grave.'"

The role required Smith to make some dramatic changes to his physical appearance: Having built up his physique for his role as Ares in "Hercules", Smith's body was slightly at odds with that required for CHANNELLING baby. "I had to start deliberately undoing all the work I had done," he explains. "I wanted to get that look that said 'you are not sort of gangly and awkward, but you haven't settled into your frame yet'. That early twenties sort of thing."

His character, Geoff, also ages over two decades throughout the course of the film: "I was concerned at the start because I didn't think they could get the light powerful enough to make me look like a twenty year old," he laughs. "They used this collagen based stuff designed by a guy who does make-up for Cher and Michelle Pfieffer (and in the film you'll see I look like both of them!). It fills up all the blood vessels under the skin and brings them to the surface. But it’s like the muscle liniment, 'Deep Heat'. You put that on your face for the first time and phowwoo, it’s like someone’s inflating your head. It doesn't take the wrinkles away it just inflates your head to fill them. That's how we got my younger look".

"But the whole thing rides on truth whether you are playing a twenty year old or an eighty year old," Smith continues. "Finding a fundamental level of emotional integrity and truth will carry all that stuff through." kevdanclose.jpg (58493 bytes)

Writer/Director Christine Parker found working with Smith very rewarding: "Kevin has that very rare quality of being incredibly masculine and sexy but is also able to show vulnerability and intelligence. And he’s someone who is very focused and prepared to do the work. He researched everything he could about New Zealander's who went to Vietnam."

"Geoff has a big heart, but not big enough to carry the pain that he does around with him," says Smith. "But the film is not an unrelenting tragedy, there is also great happiness and joy. I just hope that watching this, people who carry too much, think either "that's a bit like me,' or 'there but for the grace of God go I", because it's a universal theme."


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Copyright 1999 Oceania Parker Ltd
Last modified: August 15, 1999