Cliff Curtis: ethnic chameleon

By Toby Manhire In The Internaut

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The many faces of Mr Curtis.

In an interview with, New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis tells June Thomas about playing a wide range of ethnicities on screen.

Sometimes, they don’t have any specific ethnicity at all:

The last two TV shows I did, one for ABC and one for NBC, those were leading-type roles that were not ethnically specific. The problem is that you can’t dig too deeply into those characters, because what’s fascinating about human beings is what’s culturally specific that is culturally universal. If you can’t get specific about who they are, you’re going to be in this ambiguous universe where you can’t quite pin anything down. 

I’m still waiting for that WASP role. I’m still waiting for Peter Jackson to let me play an elf. I want to play Orlando Bloom’s father. No, Orlando Bloom’s younger, hotter brother. I don’t think it’s going to happen. 

In the interview, to promote the new Fox drama Gang Related, the acclaimed Maori star is asked how he prepares for playing these different ethnic characters.

I take the responsibility of playing another ethnicity very, very seriously, and I promise myself and those people that I will represent them with as much dignity and integrity as I can muster. I’m not fooling around. I don’t want to make a fool of that cultural heritage. I represent them as I would represent my own.

Here’s a clip they’ve put together collating his versatility:


Read the full Slate interview here.

h/t @suzikyla23

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