Coming up on Rialto this Saturday night (20 August, 8.30pm) is the New Zealand television premiere of local film The Insatiable Moon starring Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider) as psychiatric patient Arthur. He’s utterly charming and convincing as this colourful character who wanders barefoot around Ponsonby, Auckland looking for his Queen of Heaven (Sara Wiseman), caring for those who struggle to take care of themselves, and imparting his worldly wisdom on anyone sensible enough to stop and listen....
By Francesca Rudkin
Coming up on Rialto this Saturday night (20 August, 8.30pm) is the New Zealand television premiere of local film The Insatiable Moon starring Rawiri Paratene (Whale Rider) as psychiatric patient Arthur. He’s utterly charming and convincing as this colourful character who wanders barefoot around Ponsonby, Auckland looking for his Queen of Heaven (Sara Wiseman), caring for those who struggle to take care of themselves, and imparting his worldly wisdom on anyone sensible enough to stop and listen.
Rawiri has just returned from Bougainville where he was working as the Acting Coach for Andrew Adamson’s film Mr Pip, and kindly took a moment to answer a few questions about his role as Arthur.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to Rialto Channel!
You were familiar with Mike Riddell’s novel. Did you actively go after the role of Arthur when you heard a film adaptation was in the pipeline?
I read the novel while on a Kiddult shoot (‘Hard Out’) back in 2002, not long after filming ‘Whale Rider’. I saw cinematic potential in the story and wanted the role immediately. I got hold of the publishers to bid for the film rights, but they had already been snapped by Hippomedia. So I got in touch with them and with Mike and said that when it was made into a film that I would like to be considered for the role of Arthur. Not long after ‘Whale Rider’ did what it did so they were all keen to have me attached to the movie, and I remained so until it was shot in late 2008.
If you had to pick one thing about Arthur that attracted you to this character and excited you as an actor, what would it be?
Arthur is simply a very beautiful man. He knows who he is and wakes up every day with a sense of purpose… who wouldn’t want to have a go at playing that?
You make playing Arthur look a breeze, but were their aspects of the character, or the shoot, you found challenging?
I had a very different approach to this role to any other role I played. My research was minimal, normally I do lots of that. I trusted the script, the story and the filmmakers. I definitely trusted the fellow actors, so in a strange way it was a breeze. It was a delight to work on a back to basics movie too. I knew I wasn’t playing the real Arthur, but I had discovered a lot about him, so I prayed with him in mind during the shoot and I think he walked beside us in this shoot. The most challenging thing for me was to keep it real and stick to telling the story…
It took the Riddells eight years to get this film made, and I believe you had been associated with The Insatiable Moon for around 6 years before shooting began, is it common in New Zealand for projects to take this long? Do you need a good dose of patience to survive?
Yes to all of these questions! Whale Rider took 10 years, I am working as a writer on a project I started working on in 1987!
With a small budget and crew, what was it like on set? It feels like a film shot with love.
It was a fantastic set. Yes there was a lot of love on this shoot, but there was a lot of professionalism too. It was one of the most enjoyable shoots I have ever been on.
Has this role, and for that matter, this film had a lasting impression on you? And if so, how?
I am certainly very proud of the film and of my work in it! I have enjoyed becoming good friends with Mike and Rose Riddell and am proud of their work too. I think it reminded me that films can be bloody good without the bells and whistles… I would have like to have had a camper though. I remember thinking that one day when I just curled up on a bench on Ponsonby Rd one day during the shoot. Mind it would have looked in character.
This is a bit of a mean question (possibly, like asking you to choose a favourite child) but if you had to pick one character you’re most fond of from your career, which one would it be and why?
It is a bit mean. My favourite role is always the one I am working on at the moment. But I guess I have three favou
rite film roles: Mulla in ‘What Becomes of the Broken Hearted’, Koro in ‘Whale Rider’ and Arthur in ‘The Insatiable Moon’.