Co-stars' meaty new roles

NEW ROLE: Temuera Morrison and Hanna Tevita star in Fresh Meat, a Kiwi black-comedy about cannibals.
NEW ROLE: Temuera Morrison and Hanna Tevita star in Fresh Meat, a Kiwi black-comedy about cannibals.

Actress Hanna Tevita describes her debut film as being about the way her "normal" Maori family changes after her character returns home from boarding school.

But her co-star Temuera Morrison sees things a bit differently.

"I would have said lesbians, cannibals, action - all the stuff you need in a great movie."

The pair play father and daughter in the new Kiwi black comedy Fresh Meat, a film about an unfortunate bunch of criminals who find they have bitten off more than they can chew when they attack Morrison's cannibalistic family. Think blood, guts and marinated fingers.

It might be a topic set to raise a few eyebrows - Morrison discussed catching the first plane out of town with his agent after seeing it for the first time fearing he had "upset the whanau" - but he says he hopes it comes across in the tongue-in-cheek way it was intended.

"We've treated that element in a very light-hearted way. We've made the meals and the look of some of the body parts like Annabel Langbein could have prepared them, the MasterChef Gault or that other guy who yells all the time - Ramsay, it's like Ramsay has prepared these dishes for us. We've put the fun element in that."

It's hard to believe this is the first time the Once Were Warriors star has tried his hand at comedy. On purpose, anyway. Better known for roles in Shortland Street, Speed 2 and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, playing for laughs on screen is all new territory.

"I'm a very funny chap in real life, but in the past I've had to play these very serious roles, which I have taken seriously, and really enjoyed that, and I've been in space movies, so I've got that genre taken care of. But I've never done a comedy - maybe a couple of my movies were comedies, but they weren't supposed to be."

Although it turns out even being funny becomes more than just a having a giggle.

"The thing is, after you've done a number of takes, the funniness wears off and it becomes quite serious work in terms of playing the scene. 

"But this was a chance to really attack and sink my teeth into this wonderful [story]."

The film, written by Briar Grace-Smith and directed by Danny Mulheron, meant a bundle of firsts for Morrison's on-screen daughter as well.  

Fresh Meat was Tevita's first film role, and in it she was forced to push the boundaries, but she said the supportive environment on set meant nothing was too hard.

"I've never done a role like this before. And to come into something with lesbianism and nude scenes, it was a big deal for me. But I felt so comfortable so it was no problem," she said.

"I think I saw you laughing a lot, so I knew you were having fun," Morrison said.

Fresh Meat is in cinemas now.

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