TAKING A BREAK FROM
by Emily Simpson
COMMENTARY: Interview with one of the stars of the New Zealand TV show Shortland Street, Kieren Hutchison. Kieren Hutchison played Talus, Gabrielle's just barely pubescent boy toy in 'Death in Chains' on Xena: Warrior Princess.
"So, this is Wellington's main street." Kieren Hutchison has discovered Lambton Quay. Hutchison's Shortland Street character, Jonathan McKenna has been making mistakes lately at the clinic, and is leaving town to cool off and spend some time with his father. Meanwhile, the actor who plays him is getting to know Wellington, his home for the next six months, while he acts in a TV series of Swiss Family Robinson.
Hutchison plays Ernst, the eldest Robinson son who's "on the brink of manhood". His father in the show is played by Richard Thomas, best known for playing John Boy on the Waltons. Speaking with a hint of the American accent his new role requires, Hutchison says he's having a great time playing the adventurous Ernst.
Hutchison has wanted to be an actor since he was 10. He loved the movies as a kid, and says he's still a movie buff. He got involved in theatre at his high school in Whangarei and was planning to audition for drama school in Sydney when he landed the role of Jonathan McKenna. He was surprised. "I thought I did a shocking audition."
Hutchison appreciates that Shortland Street wasn't afraid to have a gay character, and a non-stereotypical one at that. "The fact that Jonathan is gay is secondary. He's just one of the gang. I enjoyed playing him like that because it breaks down stereotypes." Of all his storylines, Hutchison says he enjoyed Jonathan's Aids scare most because it gave him some serious scenes and made him think a lot about who Jonathan was.
Jonathan has a tendency to take off periodically, which has given Hutchison a chance to take other parts, such as Talus in Xena. "They keep sending Jonathan off to med school at Otago in Christchurch," he says, with a typically Auckland perspective on geography.
Hutchison would like to act overseas, and has an agent in Sydney and LA, but at the moment, he says, he's living exactly how he wants to and sees no need to go anywhere. This week, however, he's off to Fiji for six weeks of filming the island scenes of Swiss Family Robinson.