Jolie co-star catches up with NZ roots

CLOSE-UP: Maltese actress Marama Corlett spent Christmas in New Plymouth visiting her grandparents.
CLOSE-UP: Maltese actress Marama Corlett spent Christmas in New Plymouth visiting her grandparents.

A starlet with Kiwi roots has been spending her summer on Taranaki soil.

Maltese actress Marama Corlett enjoyed turkey and a traditional barbecue on Christmas Day in New Plymouth, where her dad was born and raised.

Corlett, who will soon be seen in the Disney film Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, and the Marvel Comics' film Guardians of the Galaxy, is enjoying a quiet three-week holiday with sister Althea.

They have been spending time at grandparents Kathleen and Ron Corlett's home, taking long walks or trips to the beach, and catching the free music gigs at Pukekura Park during the TSB Bank Festival of the Lights.

"It's very beautiful here, and I've had two summers in one year," Corlett said.

"I haven't been for about 10 years. I've been busy with work and it's expensive, so it's really nice to see my grandparents and family, everyone's growing up."

Corlett landed her first role in The Devil's Double, coincidentally a film by Kiwi director Lee Tamahori. "My name is Maori, and he said ‘so what's a Kiwi doing in Malta?'

"He was really excited about that. It was my first ever acting experience, and that he was from New Zealand was quite special."

Although it was a supporting role, Corlett caught the acting bug and went on to feature in the West End play The Children's Hour, and television series Sinbad.

The former dancer also appeared in the film Desert Dancer with Freida Pinto, but unfortunately couldn't put her experience to use.

"I was a ballet dancer in a company in Malta and I moved to London to continue studying. I had to pretend I couldn't dance. Akram Khan was the choreographer, and I really wanted to dance with him, he's quite well known."

Travelling, glamorous premieres and meeting stars such as Keira Knightley and Jolie have been highlights for Corlett.

"Angelina Jolie is a lovely woman, so talented and she's done so much in her career. I never thought I would get the opportunity to be on the same set as her."

All three of Corlett's sisters are involved in either dance or design, but apparently the arts was not something passed down from their parents.

"My parents are not in the arts at all.

"My father has a health food shop and is a coach for rugby, and my mother was a teacher for special-needs children. They are supportive and open-minded so I'm lucky."

Bryan Corlett, Marama's father, moved to Malta more than 30 years ago and had a hand in reintroducing rugby to the small island nation.

"I'm very proud to be half Kiwi," Ms Corlett said.

Taranaki Daily News