Portraying one of New Zealand's greatest heroes was a unique challenge, but Nelson actor Chad Moffitt says playing Sir Edmund Hillary was an opportunity he couldn't turn down.
Speaking at last night's Embassy Theatre premiere of Beyond the Edge - which tells the tale of how Sir Ed and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first to climb Mt Everest - Moffitt said he had not given much thought to what it would be like seeing himself on the big screen.
"I haven't even thought about the actual movie, although I've heard a lot of good things so far."
A hypnotherapist by trade, Moffitt - who bears an uncanny resemblance to Sir Ed - said anybody would want to take up the challenge of playing the man who is perhaps the world's best-known New Zealander.
"He's our most famous public figure and the most loved, and it's an amazing opportunity. It's been an incredible adventure."
The film uses archive footage of the 1953 ascent of Everest, as well as interview footage with Sir Ed and other members of the expedition, and new scenes filmed with Moffitt and co-star Sonam Sherpa in the role of Norgay.
Director Leanne Pooley said it was important to treat the film like any other, despite Sir Ed's place in history.
"It's a wonderful adventure tale in itself. Sir Ed was a man with demons and complexities, and we tried to show that. If we treat him as a superhero, then we undermine who he really was.
"He was also incredibly ambitious - you would need to be to be that guy who makes it to the summit."
Beyond the Edge will open in cinemas nationally tomorrow.
- © Fairfax NZ News