KIWI STARS FLEE­ING COVID

Herald on Sunday - - SPY NEWS -

Kiwi ex­pat Hol­ly­wood stars are head­ing home to shel­ter from the Covid-19 pan­demic — and cap­i­talise on the lo­cal film­ing boom.

Actors Anna Hutchi­son and Rena Owen are back in New Zealand and Spy un­der­stands for­mer Out­ra­geous For­tune star Siob­han Mar­shall, her hubby, co­me­dian Millen Baird, and their young daugh­ter, Remy, will also re­turn home soon. Hutchi­son, who has carved out a suc­cess­ful ca­reer state­side, came out of quar­an­tine last week and is set to start film­ing A Love Yarn, on lo­ca­tion in God­zone, co-pro­duced by Canadian com­pany In­cendo and Screen­time NZ.

“I’m back for this gor­geous film, which I’m re­ally ex­cited about. The quar­an­tine ex­pe­ri­ence was pretty in­cred­i­ble re­ally,” Hutchi­son tells Spy.

“We are so for­tu­nate to have a country that is united in how they are han­dling the pan­demic. And while it’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent way of com­ing home, it’s worth it to see ev­ery­one’s smiles not cov­ered by masks,” she says.

Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the Robert the Bruce star is her nearly 1-year-old, gor­geous daugh­ter Joanie Pearl. The bun­dle of joy for Hutchi­son and her hus­band, pro­ducer Mike Gille­spie, ar­rived last Au­gust in LA. They all made a trip back to New Zealand dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days, a year after the cou­ple tied the knot in a ro­man­tic cer­e­mony on Waiheke Is­land.

Hutchi­son is keen to get back to her Kiwi act­ing, and A Love Yarn is the per­fect movie for an ac­tress who has nailed the ro­mance genre in the US mar­ket.

She plays Sophie Dale, owner of a NZ yarn shop, who is fight­ing to­keep­her busi­ness going after news her top yarn sup­plier was to cease pro­duc­tion. New Yorker Sa­muel King, au­di­tor of her busi­ness, be­comes an un­ex­pected ally.

King is played by Kiwi ac­tor Si­mon Ar­blaster, who has also made a name for him­self in the States on shows such as Once Upon a Time and DC’s Leg­ends of To­mor­row. Ar­blaster has been busy with lo­cal projects all year. Des­per­ate to keep her shop going, Sophie con­vinces Sa­muel to give her two weeks to learn the ropes of yarn spin­ning and raise enough money to buy the mill her­self. With Sa­muel’s help, she comes up with a fundrais­ing plan to host a “knit-off” and auc­tion at the lo­cal mak­ers’ mar­ket. The for­mer Go Girls star came home a lit­tle before the start of film­ing, before Air NZ put flights on a freeze for three weeks. In her down-time Hutchi­son has been en­joy­ing her for­mer Go Girls stomp­ing ground, tak­ing time out with Joanie on beach walks on Auck­land’s North Shore with fam­ily and friends.

Her agents, John­son & Laird, have been hard at work get­ting a num­ber of their high-pro­file Kiwi tal­ent back into the country for work, in­clud­ing Once Were War­riosr star Rena Owen.

It’s not a straight­for­ward process but the agency has gone above and be­yond to pave the way for the actors. Owen is still in quar­an­tine and her agent Imo­gen John­son had an ex­er­cise bike de­liv­ered to her ho­tel room to help with bore­dom and support the ac­tress in be­ing ready to film on her NZ project (the ti­tle of which is still be­ing kept un­der wraps).

“We are so for­tu­nate to have a country that is united in how they are han­dling the pan­demic. And while it’s def­i­nitely a dif­fer­ent way of com­ing home, it’s worth it to see ev­ery­one’s smiles not cov­ered by masks.”

Anna Hutchi­son

Anna Hutchi­son in Auck­land.

Rena Owen

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