Chad's face the perfect fit for a Kiwi legend

Nelson man a dead ringer for Sir Ed

Last updated 13:00 25/02/2013
Chad Moffitt

NO KNOCKOFF: Sir Edmund Hillary’s family say Chad Moffitt is a ‘‘fantastic’’ choice to play him in a new movie.

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Nelson-raised Chad Moffitt will play Sir Edmund Hillary in a 3D film recreating his 1953 conquest of Mt Everest.

Moffitt, whose previous roles have included a flesh-eating zombie, won the film-makers over with a simple approach - he sent them 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 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 the film-makers 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 192 centimetres is just 3cm shorter than Hillary, grew up in Nelson, and his parents live here.

A keen mountaineer, he said he was used to people telling him how much he looked 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.

He will be joined on screen by Sonam Sherpa, who will play 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, with the Southern Alps standing in for the Himalayas.

The film, which will use footage from 1953, is scheduled to be released later this year.

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- The Nelson Mail

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