Roots & Reg­gae

STAN WALKER’S BIG SCREEN DE­BUT

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - FRONT PAGE -

S TAN Walker knows all about pres­sure, hav­ing held his nerve to win the 2009 Aus­tralian Idol and pave a suc­cess­ful pop ca­reer. For his de­but act­ing role in the New Zealand in­de­pen­dent re­lease Mt. Zion, Walker was pre­pared for ad­just­ments; he took act­ing lessons, cov­ered up his tat­toos and grew a goa­tee to suit the role.

Walker plays as­pir­ing singer-song­writer Turei, the son of a hard-work­ing potato farm­ing fam­ily, who dreams of greater things with his band, Small Axe. When a search for a sup­port act for Bob Mar­ley’s 1979 tour is launched, Turei sees his chance to make it big – but finds his am­bi­tion at odds with fam­ily tra­di­tions.

Writ­ten and di­rected by Te Arepa Kahi (Taua), who drew in­spi­ra­tion from his own fam­ily back­ground, the coming-of-age film features orig­i­nal mu­sic with a Maori twist on Mar­ley’s reg­gae.

Walker is pre­dictably im­pres­sive in the singing scenes as his group moves through the tal­ent con­test. More sur­pris­ing is his range of act­ing skills, from the nat­u­ral ca­ma­raderie he shares with his band mates to the strained re­la­tion­ship with his fa­ther.

Claim­ing he took just three act­ing classes be­fore shoot­ing be­gan in Pukekohe, near Auck­land, last year, Walker says the big­gest hur­dle get­ting into char­ac­ter was for­get­ting he was on stage.

‘‘I had to find my­self as the char­ac­ter Turei as op­posed to Stan Walker, which was a chal­lenge be­cause I started singing like me,’’ Walker says.

‘‘It took a while to re­alise that Turei is a unique per­son from a dif­fer­ent era with his own back­ground and mu­si­cal in­flu­ences.’’

The con­cept for Mt. Zion started when Kahi dis­cov­ered old footage from Mar­ley’s 1979 tour in which the late singer re­ceived a tra­di­tional Maori wel­come. The di­rec­tor edited the footage to in­clude Mar­ley in the film’s key scene with Walker’s char­ac­ter per­form­ing the fa­mous ‘‘wero’’ dance – bring­ing the ac­tor vir­tu­ally face to face with his idol.

‘‘I love Bob Mar­ley and he’s ev­ery­where and ev­ery­thing in New Zealand so I was really ner­vous do­ing that scene,’’ Walker says.

‘‘Ev­ery­one in the Maori com­mu­nity will judge me on my skills and know whether I’m fak­ing it or not. For­tu­nately, I think I did all right.’’

Mt. Zion opens at Pa­cific Fair tonight, with red-car­pet ar­rivals/en­ter­tain­ment from 5pm.

Mt. Zion.

Gold Coast singer Stan Walker (left) and Te Rangi Kahi in feel­good drama

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