Whoosh! Issue 71 - August 2002

INSIDE THE HEAD OF MICHAEL HURST
By Amy Murphy
Content © 2002 held by author
WHOOSH! Edition © (c) 2002 held by WHOOSH
4118 words


Introduction (01-02)
Michael's Head (03-154)
Michael's Resume
Acknowledgments
Articles
Biography



INSIDE THE HEAD OF MICHAEL



Introduction

Michael tries out his Drew Carey impersonation.

Michael Hurst, Renaissance Man


[01]Here is an interview I was lucky to get with the help of Mr. Robert Bruce. Michael Hurst has always seemed to be honest, a sweet person with a heart of gold, and with one h--- of a sense of humor. After reading this interview, it is clear he is all that and add 'true gentleman'. Be still my femme heart. THUD!

[02]Michael Hurst is brilliant and speaks with such passion. He is a treasure just to listen to. I am very grateful for this chance and hope you all enjoy this as much as I have. Mr. Hurst, you are a beautiful and handsome spirit. I am truly humbled!



Michaelís Head


Interviewer:
[03]Who is Michael?

Michael Hurst:
[04]A forty-four year old husband and father of two from Auckland, New Zealand with a really cool job.

Interviewer:
[05]Give us a brief day in the life of Michael, please.

Hurst:
[06]The days differ according to the demands. Right now I am working on a film (in which I play a middle-aged loser with a terrible comb-over) that takes me out of town every few days and a television project that keeps me fully occupied while I am in town. Some days I am on a aeroplane by 7:00 am and off to Wellington (our capital city) to shoot all day, others I am straight into the office and either on the phone, in meetings or researching.

[07]I juggle the children in all this because my wife Jennifer [Leland Ward] is also working in the film as well as preparing to appear in a play (Harold Pinter's Old Times). Between us, we manage to spend plenty of time with our kids, who are five years old and two years old. Also, I have a script with the New Zealand Film Commission which is awaiting finance (but at this stage looks really good), another script in development with my writing partner, and I am taking a Classics paper at University which demands essays and a final examination in November. I will be appearing in the play Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett in August, and I gave a lecture on the role of the chorus in Greek Tragedy (using Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex" as text) past March and another on Shakespeare's "King Lear" past April.

[08]Any day requires that I divide my time to immediate demands, followed by mid and long term demands. Also, I read a lot.

Interviewer:
[09]What opportunity are you most happy that you seized?

Hurst:
[10]I am most happy that I seized the first chance to audition for my local professional theatre in 1975. I got the job. If I hadn't turned up for that audition, I wouldn't be here now.

Interviewer:
[11]What do you like to read?

Hurst:
[12]I like to read just about anything. Right now, for recreation I am reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (Pulitzer Prize winning American Novel). It is good. I just finished Humbolt's Gift by Saul bellow (Nobel Prize winning American novel), which was fantastic. I like all kinds of fiction, male or female writers, including Science Fiction and Horror (I consider these my 'no-brainers', even though some of them are quite demanding), classics and moderns, and I also like biographies and other non-fiction. I suppose you would say I have a catholic taste.

[13]I am also reading a great deal about classical Greek society, Greek and Roman religion and some philosophy -- all to do with the paper I am taking. I love this stuff.

[14]I subscribe to Harper's Literary Magazine, American Archaeology, and the Times Literary Supplement, all of which I read avidly. I divide my reading day up as I do my workday, with the bedtime reading always reserved exclusively for recreational reading.

Interviewer:
[15]Which do you like more, acting or directing?

Hurst:
[16]I like it all. It's all part of the same thing to me -- story telling.

Interviewer:
[17]Which do you favor more, theater or small screen?

Hurst:
[18]As I said I like it all. I am passionate about everything I do.

Interviewer:
[19]What do you think of Shakespeare's work?

Hurst:
[20]Shakespeare is the best. There is nothing else like Shakespeare. In Shakespeare, the Human Condition is made manifest and to work on one of his plays is to look deeply into life. Whoever he was, he was a genius of thought and emotion.

Interviewer:
[21]In seriousness, what do you think the purpose of your existence in this lifetime is?

Renee secretly digs men with great eyebrows.

Separated at birth?
Alex Poindexter in YOU ARE THERE


Hurst:
[22]I think I was born to do what I do. To tell stories. To affect people however I affect them through this work. Also to do good. This is the true purpose of all people. It's just that some people are ignorant of this fact. In this sense, I have a Platonic view. I believe that what goes around comes around - this is both Buddhist and Christian.

Interviewer:
[23]What is your most favorite character you played?

Hurst:
[24]This is not easy. I have a few: Macbeth, Hamlet, Arthur Rimbaud, Mozart, Gregorus (The Holy Sinner), The Widow Twankey (especially in the pantomime Aladdin), Arnold Beckoff (Torch Song Trilogy), and Joseph K. (The Trial).

Interviewer:
[25]Have you written a screenplay? Are you planning to?

Hurst:
[26]I have co-written a screenplay called Leather Balls that is with the New Zealand Film Commission at the moment. It is a comedy about Rugby.

Interviewer:
[27]Is the glass half full or half empty?

Hurst:
[28]The glass is full.

Interviewer:
[29]What inspires you?

Hurst:
[30]Poetry and ancient wisdom inspires me. People creating beauty inspires me. My children inspire me. People who take risks inspire me. Myth and Faerie inspire me. The vastness of space inspires me.

Interviewer:
[31]What housework chore do you detest?

Hurst:
[32]Pretty much all of it, though I love cooking.

Interviewer:
[33]What job have you left undone the longest?

Hurst:
[34]I didn't renew my car license for about twenty years after I lost it! I have it now, but for years I drove illegally. Don't ask me why! Finally, I had to take the exam again. The guy was suspicious because I was such a good driver -- I had to be because if I had gotten caught without a license it would have been really bad!

Interviewer:
[35]What happened the last time you were sick?

Hurst:
[36]I got off the plane and went home, went to bed, woke up, and threw up for about an hour. I threw up so hard I strained the muscles in my back. Next day I went to work feeling like sh-- and only managed half a day. Then I went to bed again. Then I was better.

Interviewer:
[37]What is your most cherished memory?

Hurst:
[38]Meeting my wife [Jennifer Ward-Leland] in a rehearsal. It was love at first sight. We have been together now for nineteen years. Also, the births of my two boys. What a truly amazing thing!

Boadicea just before the removal of her thyroid.

Jennifer Ward-Leland played Boadicea in THE DELIVERER


Interviewer:
[39]Do you fear for your kids the way the world is now? Do you fear bringing more into the world?

Hurst:
[40]Yes, I fear for my children. Actually, I weep for the state of humanity. But I won't let that stop me filling my kids with hope and positivist. If we give up, what is the point? I still believe in beauty and truth. Didn't Keats say that beauty is truth, truth beauty -- that is all you know, and all you ever need to know? I won't bring more children into the world because I have two. I actually think that more is irresponsible in this age, but I don't push this. I believe that my children can make a difference.

Interviewer:
[41]What is poetry for?

Hurst:
[42]Poetry is for inspiration and for us to hear and feel our souls and the collective soul.

Interviewer:
[43]Where or what is the place you feel most relaxed at?

Hurst:
[44]I feel most relaxed at home.

Interviewer:
[45]What did you want to grow up to be when you were a kid?

Hurst:
[46]So many things: architect, psychiatrist, teacher, philologist, actor, engineer, but probably always an actor.

Interviewer:
[47]What figure in recent history sparks your imagination?

Hurst:
[48]Sir Laurence Olivier. What an inspired risk-taker. What a presence!

Interviewer:
[49]What is the nicest view, nearest to where you live?

Hurst:
[50]We have a holiday home on an island in the harbor. Looking North West, we see the horizon of ocean, dotted with small islands and beyond the Great Barrier Island. Close by, the escarpments of our little bay, and closer still, the wet, lush, green New Zealand bush. It is clean, mutable, and beautiful.

Interviewer:
[51]How high is the sky?

Hurst:
[52]As high as we say it is.

Interviewer:
[53]Who did you enjoy working the most with?

Hurst:
[54]A trick question. There are many names -- some of them you won't know -- Kevin Smith, Kevin Sorbo, Eric Gruendemann, Rachel Jean, Raymond Hawthorne, Caroline Hutchison, Bruce Campbell, Renee O'Connor, Cliff Curtis -- I could go on. The question should probably read, "Who did I enjoy working with the least?" That would come down to only a few names.

Interviewer:
[55]Who was a gem to direct?

Hurst:
[56]Cliff Curtis and Kevin Smith probably come out on top immediately I think of an answer. Both extremely talented and professional people. But I love directing, and a good director makes a gem out of just about everybody. Again, the question should really ask who was really difficult to direct.

Interviewer:
[57]How did you start in the showbiz world?

Hurst:
[58]I got spotted in an amateur production of an American play Time Out For Ginger, in which I played a character called Tommy Green. On the strength of this performance, I was asked to audition for the local professional theatre company. The rest is my history.

Interviewer:
[59]If you had to do it all over, would you act?

Hurst:
[60]Absolutely.

Thank the gods tanning was still all the rage.

Iolaus is Hercules' bestest bud


Interviewer:
[61]What would you say every actor needs?

Hurst:
[62]Humility and a sense of justice.

Interviewer:
[63]Is it harder for overseas actors to be noticed in the states?

Hurst:
[64]I guess so. It's hard for any actor to be noticed in the USA. There is a lot of truth in the phrase "To get a break".

Interviewer:
[65]Are you superstitious?

Hurst:
[66]A little. I always touch wood when I say "touch wood". That's about it.

Interviewer:
[67]Do you believe in prayer?

Hurst:
[68]Yes, I believe in prayer, but it is a very subjective thing. When I have prayed, it is not to the generally perceived notion of God. I think God is very personal. It is too easy to be a hypocrite otherwise. I respect Christians -- I respect anyone's beliefs, but I would say that I am more of a humanist. I think that God comes from within. This does not negate the power of God, I just don't believe that God is a "he" who consciously created everything. It is more awesome, more subtle, and far more complex than that.

Interviewer:
[69]If the color blue were a flavor, what would it be?

Hurst:
[70]It would be a cool, scented flavor. The flavor of Arcadia.

Interviewer:
[71]What is the best advice someone had given you?

Hurst:
[72]Stop talking right now.

Interviewer:
[73]Did you follow that advice?

Hurst:
[74]Yes.

Interviewer:
[75] What will you tell your child if they want to be an actor?

Hurst:
[76]I will say "go for it!" My children can be whatever they want to be.

Interviewer:
[77]What is your pet peeve?

Hurst:
[78]Conceited people and the cynicism of people who exploit the inexperienced. Also text messaging -- why can't people spell?

She's pissed and she knows how to use it.

Hmmm, Xena was conceited and exploited the inexperienced,
at least before she got into that redemption thing...


Interviewer:
[79]What is your favorite kind of lighting?

Hurst:
[80]This is a strange question. I actually dislike overhead lighting in my house. I love indirect lighting. For theatre and film, I like style. Mood. I am not too concerned with total reality. Everything is part of the story-telling arsenal. Lighting affects mood and meaning.

Interviewer:
[81]Years from now, how would you like to be remembered?

Hurst:
[82]As a good person, a person that gave some pleasure, as a good father and husband, as a man who used his talents to change people and things.

Interviewer:
[83]What are you working on now?

Hurst:
[84]I think I answered this in an earlier question. A glib answer would be, "my life".

Interviewer:
[85]What is your favorite meal to prepare for someone else?

Hurst:
[86]Anything that takes a long time. Cooking is like a meditation for me. Right now, I am into Italian cooking. Slow, delicate pot-roasts. But I love Thai, Chinese, Spanish, and Indian cooking.

Interviewer:
[87]Do fans expect too much from stars?

Hurst:
[88]It is what it is. It is a by-product of the business. Anyone who gets uptight about it is a little naive. It can get out of hand, but this is the exception rather than the rule, and anyway, stars are the people who need to call the shots. If you don't like it, keep out of sight!

Interviewer:
[89]Do fans matter?

Hurst:
[90]Of course they do. Who goes to see the work? Who provides the ratings? Who spends the money on all the merchandising, the theatre tickets, and concerts. Fans are as old as elevated personalities. Buddha had fans. Jesus had fans. Followers and fans: they change with the centuries but the impulse is the same. It is a human thing.

Interviewer:
[91]If you were given the ability to cure one disease, what would it be?

Hurst:
[92]Cancer.

Interviewer:
[93]What advice can you give to future actors and directors?

Hurst:
[94]Stay with it. Try to fulfill your own desires as much as possible. Nil Illigitamae Carborundum -- Don't let the b-st-rds grind you down.

Interviewer:
[95]What is the hardest thing you ever had to do?

Hurst:
[96]This is going to sound a bit naff, but I always try to do the hardest things. Katherine Mansfield, one of our (New Zealand's) greatest writers said: "Risk! Risk everything! Do the most difficult thing in the world for you! Care no more for the opinions of others!" I use this as a mantra quite a lot.

[97]It was really hard to sit with my mother after she had died.

Interviewer:
[98]What was the easiest?

Hurst:
[99]The easiest thing I ever did was fall in love with Jennifer.

And two parts of one soul were united once again...

Michael Hurst and Jennifer Ward-Leland


Interviewer:
[100]What is the worst feeling in the world?

Hurst:
[101]Letting someone down. This is followed by the feeling of anything insectoid or squishy crawling on me.

Interviewer:
[102]What is the best?

Hurst:
[103]When my kids tell me they love me or rush up to me for no reason and hug me or do something really clever or just fabulous, and, on stage, when the audience loves what I am doing.

Interviewer:
[104]What makes your best friend your best friend?

Hurst:
[105]Honesty and a great sense of humor.

Interviewer:
[106]What is the greatest wish you have for your kids?

Hurst:
[107]To be fulfilled in this difficult world. To have a true childhood and to be able to dream and not be afraid that they can't achieve their dreams.

Interviewer:
[108]What is the most sensitive part of your body?

Hurst:
[109]All of it at various times.

Interviewer:
[110]Are you ticklish?

Hurst:
[111]No.

Interviewer:
[112]Favorite song of the moment?

Hurst:
[113]Anything by Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn. I love this kind of music. http://www.nfak.com/

Interviewer:
[114]Why do fools fall in love?

Hurst:
[115]Because fools are ultimately the most wise.

Interviewer:
[116]Why do actors take themselves too seriously?

Hurst:
[117]Actors who take themselves seriously have to be joking. Take the job seriously, but have a sense of humor about yourself.

Interviewer:
[118]Why do some fans have a hard time telling the difference between character and real life person?

Hurst:
[119]I don't know. Because they are a little crazy?

Interviewer:
[120]Does that put a damper on your feelings towards fandom?

Hurst:
[121]Not at all. Most fans recognize the difference.

Interviewer:
[122]Do you feel like you were part of something special? (Xena, Hercules, Fandom in general?)

Hurst:
[123]Yes I do feel that Hercules and Xena were special. I made some dear friends, met some great people, and learned heaps about my craft, both acting and directing. It was a life-changing experience.

The little cranky Widow Twanky.

Widow Twanky in ...And Fancy Free


Interviewer:
[124]What do you find most satisfying about your job?

Hurst:
[125]When I do my job, I feel that I am doing what I am meant to be doing. This is extremely satisfying.

Interviewer:
[126]What would your friends say is your worst trait?

Hurst:
[127]Being too much of a perfectionist and reacting very strongly if I don't achieve something and I think it is my failing. But I say "to h--- with that!"

Interviewer:
[128]What does the word 'family' mean to you?

Hurst:
[129]Unconditional love.

Interviewer:
[130]What makes a great kisser?

Hurst:
[131]Having lips is good.

Interviewer:
[132]What is your motto?

Hurst:
[133]I don't have a particular motto.

Interviewer:
[134]If a person were to walk into your bedroom, what five things would they notice?

Hurst:
[135]It is serene. There are books, the view is lovely, there are children's toys and books about the place, and there is likely to be an enormous cat asleep on the chair.

Interviewer:
[136]What do you like most about Conventions?

Hurst:
[137]Getting to perform stuff that fans haven't seen. Making people happy because I talk to them as any normal person would -- demystifying the star thing, I suppose.

Interviewer:
[138]What do you like the least?

Hurst:
[139]Being away from my family.

Interviewer:
[140]Who is you real life hero?

Hurst:
[141]I have no one hero. Anyone can be a hero. Bravery is only part of it.

Did I leave the stove on?

Hercules, hero extraordinaire


Interviewer:
[142]Would the world be a better place if a woman ran it?

Hurst:
[143]Yes. Absolutely. I have no doubt. I think our Prime Minister Helen Clark should run it.

Interviewer:
[144]What are your dreams?

Hurst:
[145]Having a theatre of my own to do the plays I want. Having enough money to make the films I want. That the arts be considered essential to the public good -- a health issue. That universal peace comes. That a woman runs the world.

Interviewer:
[146]Michael's thoughts on Kevin Smith

Hurst:
[147]Time and a little distance has not made it any easier to accept that Kev has passed away. When I think about it, the tears well and I have to repeat to myself that somewhere in it all there is reason and purpose, though why he should have been taken at this time is beyond me.

[148]The world needs more men like him, not less. He was generous to a fault, talented and beautiful -- one of the funniest and wittiest men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He was the only one of the actors in Hercules and Xena that actually resembled his action figure. He was fiercely intelligent, with a vocabulary belonging more to a Renaissance man than to a boy from Timaru.

[149] His was a "larger than life" kind of life. He was hungry for it -- he ate it and he loved the taste of it. Yet in all this, he took great joy in the fact that he was still just a family man from the suburbs of Auckland.

[150]I miss him. I miss his strength and his humor. I miss his vast hugs and his daylight breaking through the clouds smile.

[151]Kev touched everyone he met. People would spend only minutes with him yet feel they were a friend. He took me on many a journey, at full throttle and with no judgement. One of the last things he said was "set the controls for the heart of the sun", and by God, that's what we would do. We always wanted to go with him. It hurts that he has gone on this last journey without us. It hurts that we won't hear his "Gidday Mate" across a crowded pub any more. It just bloody hurts.

[152]We have lost one of our favorite sons.

[153]But through the sadness of these [times], I have been thinking of the words of the great American poet e.e.cummings who said:

"laugh, leaning back in my arms,
for life's not a paragraph;
and death I think is no parenthesis."

[154]Haere ra Kevin. Safe journey. We love you.

Gotta love him!

Michael Hurst


Michael's Resume

Michael's Official Site: http://michaelhurstonline.tripod.com
Auckland Theatre Company: http://www.auckland-theatre.co.nz

Actor - filmography
Making of 'Jubilee', The (2000) (V) .... Himself
I'll Make You Happy (1999)
Young Hercules (1998/I) (V) .... The Jeweler
Hercules and Xena - The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount
Olympus (1998) (V) (voice) .... Iolaus
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995) TV Series .... Iolaus
Hercules in the Maze of the Minotaur (1994) (TV) .... Iolaus
Hercules in the Underworld (1994) (TV) .... Aelus
Hercules and the Amazon Women (1994) (TV) .... Iolaus
Typhon's People (1993) (TV) .... Constantine
Desperate Remedies (1993) .... Willam Poyser
Footstep Man, The (1992) .... Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Dangerous Orphans (1985) .... Moir
Death Warmed Up (1985) .... Michael Tucker
Prisoners (1981) .... Sciano

Director - filmography
Jubilee (2000)
"Jack of All Trades" (2000/I)
TV Series (episode "Morning After, The")
Amazon High (1999)
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995)
TV Series (episode "... And Fancy Free")
TV Series (episode "Mercenary")
TV Series (episode "One Fowl Day")
TV Series (episode "Faith")
TV Series (episode "Somewhere Over Rainbow Bridge")
TV Series (episode "Greece is Burning")
"Xena: Warrior Princess" (1995)
TV Series (episode "Antony And Cleopatra")
TV Series (episode "A Day In The Life")
TV Series (episode "A Tale of Two Muses")
TV Series (episode "Life Blood") [with Paul Grinder]
TV Series (episode "Who's Gurkhan?")
TV Series (episode "To Helicon and Back")

Notable TV guest appearances
"Xena: Warrior Princess" (1995) playing "Nigel, Charon" in episode: "You Are There" (episode # 6.13) 2/5/2001
"Jack of All Trades" (2000/I) playing "Captain Nardo da Vinci" in episode: "Shark Bait" (episode # 2.2) 10/9/2000
"Duggan" (1999) playing "Michael Taylor" in episode: "Shadow of Doubt, A (Part 1)" (episode # 1.3)
"Duggan" (1999) playing "Michael Taylor" in episode: "Shadow of Doubt, A (Part 2)" (episode # 1.4)
"Young Hercules" (1998/II) playing "Charon" in episode: "Lady In Hades, A" (episode # 1.20) 11/4/1998
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995) playing "Paul Robert Coyle, writer" in episode: "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Hercules" (episode # 4.15) 2/23/1998
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995) playing "Widow Twanky" in episode: "Men In Pink" (episode # 4.12) 2/2/1998
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995) playing "Widow Twanky" in episode: "...And Fancy Free" (episode # 4.8) 11/17/1997
"Xena: Warrior Princess" (1995) playing "Iolaus" in episode: "Quest, The" (episode # 2.13) 2/3/1997
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995) playing "Charon" in episode: "Highway to Hades" (episode # 2.11) 11/27/1995
"Xena: Warrior Princess" (1995) playing "Iolaus" in episode: "Prometheus" (episode # 1.8) 11/6/1995
"Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" (1995) playing "Charon" in episode: "Other Side, The" (episode # 2.8) 11/6/1995
"Ray Bradbury Theatre, The" (1985) in episode: "Long Rain, The" (episode # 6.6) 9/19/1992
"Ray Bradbury Theatre, The" (1985) in episode: "Toynbee Convector, The" (episode # 4.8) 10/26/1990

Short biography:
Attended Papanui High School. Attended University of Canterbury for 1 year. Family moved to Christchurch, New Zealand when he was 7. Married to noted New Zealand actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand for ten years. Two sons. The eldest of three brothers.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Kamouraskan for the beta.



Articles

L. J. Maas and Murphy Wilson [Amy Murphy].One Step Beyond ... Uber, That Is. WHOOSH #49 (October 2000)

The "Inside the Head of..." series in Whoosh issues #58, 61-66,68-71



Biography

a woman of mystery Amy Murphy
Thirty-one-year-old Amy Murphy resides in Indiana, and is an avid reader of Xena: Warrior Princess Fan Fiction. If it exists in the Xenaverse, chances are she has read it! Murphy has also tried her hand at writing fan fiction, turning out two very nice pieces that reside on a couple of web sites throughout the Xenaverse.


Favorite episode: IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE (24/124)
Favorite line: "I Have Many Skills" Various episodes
First episode seen: TITANS (07/107)
Least favorite episode: LYRE, LYRE HEARTS ON FIRE (100/510)

 

 

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