Guy Pearce and Te Kohe Tuhaka lead the cast of “The Convert,” an epic New Zealand-set action drama film being directed by Lee Tamahori (“Die Another Day,” “Once Were Warriors”). Mister Smith Entertainment is representing sales rights and will launch the project at the Cannes film market.
The story sees Pearce portray a lay preacher who arrives at a British settlement in 1830s New Zealand. His violent past is soon drawn into question and his faith put to the test, as he finds himself caught in the middle of a bloody war between Maori tribes. The script was written by Shane Danielsen (“Errors of the Human Body”) and Tamahori, after originating from a screen story by Michael Bennet (“Matariki”).
The producers on the film are Robin Scholes (“Once Were Warriors,” “The Patriarch”), Te Kohe Tuhaka, Andrew Mason (“The Water Diviner,” executive producer of The Matrix trilogy) and Troy Lum (“The Water Diviner,” executive producer of “Saving Mr. Banks”).
“The Convert” is an official New Zealand Australia co-production, between Auckland based Jump Film & Television and Sydney based Brouhaha Entertainment. Film financing has been offered by the New Zealand Film Commission and the New Zealand Premium Production Fund. Production will get under way on Sept. 12, 2022, filming at previously unseen locations around the North Island of New Zealand.
Pearce has screen credits including “LA Confidential,” “The King’s Speech” and the recent “Mare of Easttown.”
Te Kohe Tuhaka is known internationally for roles in “The Dead Lands” and “Love and Monsters” and is a significant figure in New Zealand cultural scene. He is a bi-lingual Te Reo speaking actor who has appeared in Taika Waititi’s short film “Tama Tu,” played a Rugby player in the film “The Kick,” and is also a television presenter on “Marae Kai Masters,” and fashion show “Freestyle.” He has also fronted solo stage play “Michael James Manaia.”
Other roles on the film include: Ginny Loane (“The Patriarch,” “The Justice of Bunny King”) as director of photography; Nick Williams (“Black Hands,” “The New Legends of Monkey”) as production designer, alongside Maori artist Lisa Reihana; Liz McGregor (“No Exit,” “The Patriarch”) for costume design, alongside a predominantly Maori costume department; Dr. Patricia Te Arapo Wallace as Maori costume and textiles advisor; Susie Glass (“The Wilds,” “The Patriarch”) as makeup designer, is working with Ngamaru Raerino, Graham Grayza Tipene and Tyler Jade for traditional designs in tattooing and body painting.
“Guy will inhabit the character of Munro in ways I cannot foresee and bring to life ‘The Convert,’ my period drama about early contact between Europeans and Maori, when European settlers were outnumbered by several hundred to one, and Maori had just acquired muskets,” said Tamahori in a prepared statement.
Mister Smith Entertainment’s Founder and CEO David Garrett said: “ ‘The Convert’ is a really engrossing page-turner of a story, with compelling and complex characters in a world never before depicted on the big screen with such vividness and authenticity.”