The Questionnaire: Michael Hurst

Michael Hurst
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Michael Hurst

Michael Hurst has had a "Herculean" impact on New Zealand theatre and film as both an actor and director, writer and producer, although his headline role was as Iolaus in the TV show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He returns to the stage in Amadeus – as Saleri, the Italian contemporary of Mozart, who is driven to the edge with jealousy, unable to reconcile Mozart's genius with his barbaric nature. Interview: Mike Alexander.

What are you plugging right now?

Amadeus, directed by Oliver Driver for ATC and performed at the ASB Theatre. I'm playing Saleri, which is a fabulous role. I played Mozart in 1982 at the Mercury Theatre, so the wheel has come full circle in a sense. I can't wait to get onto the stage again.

Michael Hurst performs in Hercules.
Michael Hurst

Michael Hurst performs in Hercules.

What's your idea of perfect happiness?

Being at peace with myself. 

Which living person do you most admire?

I am full of admiration for many people at many times and in many circumstances. I admire the human spirit — it's potential for beauty and the fantastic things it can achieve.  

What's your most embarrassing moment?

When I was eight we came from the north of England to live in Christchurch. I was little and pale and I had a really strong Lancashire accent (think Coronation Street). I thought I would somehow overcome this by telling everyone on my first day at school that I was a leprechaun. It was going well until Raewyn Braithwaite put her hand up in class that afternoon and asked the teacher if it was true. He smiled, shook his head and said: "No. There are no such things as leprechauns". Ouch. I still cringe. 

Ever stolen anything?

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Yes. I went through a phase of stealing when I was about 10; mainly chocolate and stuff, though occasionally comic books. I got caught at the Merivale Supermarket in Christchurch. A hand came out of nowhere, grabbed me by the ear and marched me to the office. I was absolutely mortified. I have never stolen anything again and I have never been back to that supermarket. 

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

I don't dislike anything about my appearance. I'm okay with it.

Which living person do you most despise and why?

Despise is a strong term. Let's use the term "pity" instead.  And it's not a person, it's people — namely religious fanatics and fundamentalists, who are inevitably bigoted, closed-minded, often racist and generally selfish. Come and join the grown-ups, it's so much better.

What life lesson would you pass on to your children?

The only way out is through. What goes around comes around. Honesty is the best policy. Eyes open. Don't be a dick.

What job would you do other than your own and why?

I guess if it came down to survival, well, pretty much anything. But my reality is that I make a living at what I do.  I've have always done it, I love it and I'm good at it, so I can't really see myself doing anything else. If that reality changes, then I change. Easy to say, I know, but nevertheless ...

The ASB Season of Amadeus runs from May 2-17 at the ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland.

 - Sunday Star Times

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