Kiwi actor

Kiwi actor Kevin Smith, best known for his TV portrayal of Ares in both “Xena: The Warrior Princess” and “Young Hercules,” died Feb. 9 in a Beijing hospital from head injuries sustained when he fell from a prop tower on a set in Shijiazhuang, China, after he had finished filming “Warriors of Virtue: II.” He was 38.

Speculation is that, while waiting for a ride, he climbed up the castle-like structure but lost his balance. He was found semiconscious at the stone base of the tower and was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Beiing, where he went into a deep coma and never regained consciousness.

Smith was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and spent many years in the rural town of Timaru. As an adolescent, he played in rock ‘n’ roll bands, had a passion for rugby and dreamed of playing for the All Blacks rugby team. In 1987, while he was recovering from a college rugby injury, his wife and childhood sweetheart, Suzanne, saw an ad for a casting call and encouraged him to audition. He landed a role in “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” a musical tribute to Elvis Presley. It was there that Smith began his professional acting career.

He subsequently appeared in such Kiwi films as “Lawless: Beyond Justice,” “Happy Birthday 2 You,” and “Channeling Baby.” He was slated to begin work on a Bruce Willis film soon called “Man of War.”

Besides his wife, he is survived by three young children.

Funeral services in New Zealand are pending.

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