He's got the head to play Sir Ed
A Canada-born hypnotherapist with only a few minor acting credits willl play Sir Edmund Hillary in a 3D film recreating his 1953 conquest of Mt Everest.
Wellington-based Chad Moffitt, whose previous roles included playing a flesh-eating zombie, won film-makers over with a simple approach - he sent in a photo of himself holding a $5 note bearing Hillary's face.
His resemblance to the mountaineer has delighted Hillary's son, Peter, and family.
Hillary's granddaughter, Anna Boyer, said photos of the actor in the movie bore a striking likeness to her grandfather even though Moffitt is five years older than when Hillary topped the world.
"The photos look fantastic," she said.
"He's got the perfect craggy face, it's terrific.
"Peter met Moffitt last year and he was really happy with him."
Beyond The Edge producer Matthew Metcalfe said they deliberately did not want a famous face in the role.
"He's pretty much our most well-known icon, and everyone in New Zealand feels like they have a vested interest and connection with Ed.
"So we made a decision early on that we didn't want to use a ‘movie star'.
"There were various people floating around, but we made a point of saying the movie is bigger than the star, the story is bigger than the man."
Moffitt, who at 192cm is just 3cm shorter than Hillary, grew up in Nelson and is a keen mountaineer.
He says he is used to people telling him how much he looks like the late knight.
Moffitt has worked for Sir Peter Jackson's Weta Digital - but trained last year in hypnotherapy and works part-time for a Wellington clinic.
Moffitt will be joined on screen by Sonam Sherpa, who will portray Tenzing Norgay. Sherpa is from Nepal but is a New Zealand resident living in the Mt Cook region.
"Tenzing was described by everyone who met him as the most charming, charismatic man, with an amazing smile," director Leanne Pooley said.
"Sonam is exactly the same and while relatively new to acting he is completely relaxed in front of the camera. It just seems incredible I found my Tenzing in New Zealand."
Filming for Beyond The Edge is scheduled to start on March 3 on and around Aoraki/Mt Cook, which will double as the Himalayas.
The film, which will use footage from 1953, is scheduled to be released later this year.
- Sunday Star Times