I recently got the chance to talk to Gareth Reeves about his role in Ray Winstone’s new film, ‘Tracker’. Here Gareth talks about the film and it’s Boer War connections, what it was like filming in New Zealand, and who has inspired him as an actor…
Hey Gareth, thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. You’re currently starring in ‘Tracker’ which is out in UK cinemas right now. What’s the general premise of the film?
‘Tracker’ is set just after the Boer War. Arjan Van Diemen, (as part of a Royal pardon agreement with the British) travels to New Zealand to start a new life. He is then hired by a British officer to help track down an innocent Maori fugitive, who has been accused of killing a British soldier.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the film.
My character, Major Carlysle – is a Boer War vet and Cavalry officer. He was originally tasked with hunting down Van Diemen in South Africa. Like Van Diemen, Carlysle has come to New Zealand to start a new life, except he has a family he hopes to send for soon.
The film is set in 1903 after the South African Boer War – did you do any background research into that point in history before you took on the role as the Major?
I did. I knew very little about the Boer War going into ‘Tracker’. I found it fascinating and disturbing. It was important to me that I had some imagery to work with. Carlysle is carrying a lot of guilt about the British action in South Africa, and there are some pretty disturbing images of the Boer camps that were useful for me to reference. Carlysle also has a certain respect for Van Diemen and learning about the Boers and their tactics helped me to place that in a specific way.
The film stars Ray Winstone, Temuera Morrison and Andy Anderson – what was it like working on-set with them?
Ray was great to work with, his work ethic is infectious, it really lifted my game. The respect came naturally but pulling rank on Ray Winstone did, I’ll admit, give me a few sleepless nights. Once on set however, I could’ve done those scenes all day. Also the British and New Zealand sense of humour is not too dissimilar and once the piss-taking started things got warmed up nicely. Though I’ll think twice before betting against Ray Winstone on any on-set wagers again. Temuera is a natural entertainer. A great story-teller. He carries Jake the Muss on his shoulders everywhere he goes and let’s face it that character is no role-model! But Tem wears it well and has a great mix of confidence and humility that is inspiring. Andy kept the posse in great spirits with his guitar. There are some great legends around about Andy and he does a great job of neither confirming nor denying them. He’s also the kindest man I think I’ve ever met.
What was it like filming in New Zealand? An IMDB review about ‘Tracker’ has stated – “Cinema has scarcely photographed a more magnificent land. The mountain ranges, woodlands, lakes and rivers are a pleasure to behold – you can watch ‘Tracker’ just for the scenery; it really is that attractive.”
Yeah we tend to get a little blasé about it here. We filmed at KareKare which is kind of my local beach and when Ray called it paradise I had to look again and I thought, “Oh yeah, he’s right.” People get a little misty eyed over the landscape when they come to New Zealand to film and although I do love shooting out in it I do long for a gun and car-chase movie in the city one day too. Grass is always greener I guess.
Let‘s talk about you Gareth. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
None of the girls in my class wanted to be Snow White in the school play when I was 10, so I did it. I fell over in my Mum’s heels and got a huge laugh. That was it really, I’ve been doing whatever job I can get my hands on ever since. I’ve done a lot of theatre but film acting, more so than TV acting is my passion these days. I have much to learn about it and living in New Zealand means the opportunity doesn’t come around very often either. I’m working on it though.
What films / actors have inspired you as an artist?
Wow, there’s a long list. Off the top of my head …
Sam Rockwell – Chameleon. Can do anything.
Cate Blanchett – Delicate and strong. On-stage and off.
Leonardo DiCaprio – His career please!
Christian Bale – Commitment to his work.
Daniel Day Lewis – Light and dark and all shades in between in his work. Awesome.
Isabelle Hubert – Brilliant and brave choices. Tilda Swinton too.
Bruno Lawrence – Wish I was all that.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in acting?
Be smart with your money when you have it. Don’t wait by the phone, it won’t ring. Go do something, anything.
You’ve done quite a number of TV series, such as ‘Go Girls’, ‘The Cult’, ‘Underbelly’, ‘The Insiders Guide To Love’, ‘The Tribe’ and ‘The Adventures of Voopa the Goulash’ – which has been your favourite to work on and why?
Probably ‘Underbelly’. The 70’s was a great period to play in, it had great cars as well. ‘Insiders Guide’ will always be special, I met a beautiful girl on that one. Oh yes.
What would your ideal role be?
Honestly? I’d ask DiCaprio and Day-Lewis’ agents what they’re being offered and ask them to get back to me.
You’ve mentioned to me that you’re currently in production on a low-budget feature film called ‘Existence’ – what can you tell us about the project?
Ah yes. It’s a salvage-punk, post-apocolyptic, feminist western. “Not another one!” I hear you say …
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
I’m touring Australia doing Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare and have never done Julius Caesar before, so I’m looking forward to it. Plus the Rugby World Cup is on while I’m there so hoping to stick it to the Aussies in person.
Thanks very much for the interview!