I recently got the chance to talk to Andy Anderson about his role in ‘Tracker’. Here, Andy talks about his love for New Zealand, his character in the film and about what it was like working with Ray Winstone and Temuera Morrison….
Hey Andy, thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. You’re currently starring in ‘Tracker’ which is out in UK cinemas right now. Tell us a bit about the character you play in the film….
Bryce is a local tracker/bushman. Not someone familiar with manners or personal hygiene. Fluent in Maori language. He lives in the forest with his wife – who must be either extremely tolerant or as mad as he is. Bryce is an outcast who doesn’t really fit in with Maori or Pakeha. He has an old, lovely, unappreciated horse called Shorty who has a strange lump on his head (benign). Shorty is Bryce’s best – and possibly only – friend and smells nicer than Bryce . Which is a worry.
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 Bryce?
There was a man called Bryce who was involved in the land wars. A very unsavoury man. A racist and bully. Bryce is racist and at first I thought my Bryce was based on him but it was just a coincidence. I didn’t bother researching the Boer War. Bryce is in his own world and would probably not have known or cared much about it. I’ve always thought New Zealand history is fascinating so I’d already read some books on the Taranaki Wars. The Fox Boy. Parihaka. Very interesting era. There was a lot we weren’t taught in school.
The film stars Ray Winstone, Temuera Morrison and Gareth Reeves – what was it like working on-set with them?
Garth did a lovely job. He was the leader of what we dubbed the ‘pussy posse’. He is a lot of fun as were all of them. .Tem and Ray were off on their own adventure for most of it. Machoing all over the countryside. Returning back to base with bark off them. Sprains and whatever. We kept riding around in circles, sniffing the ground for clues, strumming guitars. Ray and Temuera were both in two of the best family violence/alcoholism films I’d ever seen: ‘Nil By Mouth’ and ‘Once Were Warriors’. Ground-breaking movies. Not cute. In ‘Tracker’ they were both the good guys. Lovely fellas both. Hard cases. I’d worked with Tem on ‘Gloss’ and we’d met up a bit over the years. I like Tem a lot. I think he paid a high price in public perception for playing Jake the Muss so I loved that he was now playing someone a bit closer to him. I didn’t have many scenes with Tem . I just threatened him with a rifle and kicked him about a bit. As you do. Worked a bit more with Ray. He’s a treasure. Very down to earth. Generous. He’s not acting tough; he is tough. But a total gentleman. We had a lovely scene riding these weird horses along Kare Kare beach but it got cut. I’ll wait for the Directors Cut. Here’s what Ray’s like: When the big Christchurch earthquake happened he e-mailed to see if our family and friends were ok. And I know he’s a very busy man.
What was it like filming in New Zealand? I’ve noticed a IMDB review 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.”
I lived for a few years at Kare Kare beach so I know the area very well. Wild beauty. Not a place to play silly sods. The locals watching the film will find it bizarre that we ride over the sand dunes toward the forest and end up in Queenstown, hundreds of miles away in the South Island!. I s’pose the Queenstowners will find it strange that a beach has come so far inland…. that’s entertainment.
Let‘s talk about you Andy. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I’ve always lived as though reality was optional. Loved music and films. I have been blessed beyond measure to have come so far in this industry. There have been times I’ve forgotten that. I hope I never do again.
What films / actors have inspired you as an artist ?
The list would be too long…. Any that have hit me in heart. Made me laugh, cry, believe, learn…
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in acting?
If you have the passion and creative juice you will already be doing it. It’s a brilliant life but not for those who insist on consistency or security.
You’ve done quite a number of TV series, such as ‘Neighbours’, ‘Fire’, ‘Prisoner: Cell Block H’ and ‘The Bob Morrison Show’ to name a few – which has been your favourite to work on and why?
They’ve all had their flavours. Above all else, I just love the process of film-making.
What would be your ideal role?
How about a spin-off movie focussing on Bryce? That would be a trip. I enjoy playing a variety of roles but I lean toward do the “smart arse heading for a fall” type characters most. Kevin in ‘Garage Days’; Livingstone in ‘Anancondas’. Repo in ‘Fire’. A bit of comedy.
What’s coming up for you in 2011?
We just finished shooting a Kiwi short film; ‘Nocturnal Ignition’. I played an exceptionally odd taxi driver with a blood red eye. That was pretty radical. I’ve written a screenplay called “If I’d Known I’d Lived This Long…” about an old rock singer who hits the skids. I’d dearly love to do that. Just need a few million. I’m doing a stage-play in June/July. Currently shooting a doco. Re-writing a film script and a TV script. Strumming guitar… I realized this year when putting together my CV that I got side tracked in my approach to some of my past work. Ambition and ego grabbed me and it’s not pleasant. I want to enjoy and appreciate whatever I do from now on.
Thanks for the interview!