Whoosh! Issue 74 - December 2002

By Hannelore Mueller
Content © 2002 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2002 held by Whoosh!
2434 words

Author's Note:
Viola Bargmann originally translated this article.

Kevin Smith (01-14)
Sightseeing With Kevin (15-19)
Robert Bruce (20)


Knowing what it's like to be at the bottom of a well
Robert Bruce, the author, and Kevin Smith.

Kevin Smith

[01] Kevin Smith achieved international appreciation and fame among fans for his charismatic performance as Ares, the evil God of War, in both simultaneously aired hit shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and Xena: Warrior Princess. Now this indestructible actor is dead.

[02] The fans were shaken. During the filming of the movie, Warriors of Virtue II, in Beijing, China, on February 6, 2002, Kevin Smith was injured, falling a great height from a tower. Smith had already finished filming, had dined with the crew, and was waiting for a taxi that would bring him back to his 250-kilometer distant hotel. He was very happy about finishing the filming earlier than scheduled. He was looking forward to using this unexpected free time to enjoy his family before leaving for Hawaii in March, to begin shooting Man Of War, with Bruce Willis. Man of War (recently changed to Hostile Rescue) could have been Smith's international cinematic breakthrough.

[03] Few people were still at the set, so Smith strolled around the production area and climbed the tower. High up, he lost his balance and fell down from a height equal to three stories. A little later, he was found on the concrete floor with severe head injuries. He was rushed to Union Hospital in Beijing for emergency surgery. His wife Sue, his parents, and his brother-in-law, flew to China to stay by his sickbed. For the time being, it looked like Smith was out of danger and would recover.

[04] In the beginning, he was not able to breathe without the help of a respirator. There was a moment when he reached consciousness and was able to breathe without the apparatus; but, then, he fell back into a deep coma -- a coma from which he would never awaken. While his wife was at his side, Kevin Smith gently passed away on Saturday, February 16, 2002.

[05] In this article, I would like to honor Kevin Smith by sharing with you a few highlights from his life. He appeared in the Renaissance Pictures' spin-off show Young Hercules as Ares; in 1995 received the award for best supporting actor in his native country New Zealand; and, played the character Iphicles, Hercules mortal half-brother, in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

[06] Kevin was one of New Zealand's best-known and deserving actors with an impressive list of roles in movies, theater, and television. He had roles in hit shows like Gloss, Marlin Bay, and Shortland Street. He played in dozens of stage productions, from Othello, A Streetcar Named Desire, to Cabaret, Glengarry Glenn Ross, and Into The Woods.

[07] The awards he has won include one for the turn-of-the-century drama Desperate Remedies, that got international attention at Cannes and other European Film Festivals. It was followed by Channeling Baby, the TV trilogy Lawless, Dead Evidence, Beyond Justice, and Jubilee, in which Smith played a famous rugby player. He was also in Love Mussel, in which Kevin played himself, and the brand-new Riverworld (2002), yet to be released.

[08] Kevin Smith also played in a few New Zealand alternative-rock bands and was the lead singer of the band The Wide Lapels, whose theatrical performances of the worst 1970s songs like, "Take A Letter, Maria", "Tell Laura I Love Her", or "Billy, Don't be A Hero", had true followers.

[09] Born in Auckland, where he spent his early childhood, Smith, at age eleven, moved with his family to Timaru, south New Zealand. During High school, he began playing in rock and roll bands, but never aspired to become an actor. He had a passion for rugby and his dream was playing with the All Blacks, New Zealand's world-renowned rugby team. At age 17, he moved to Christchurch and before entering Canterbury University at age 20, he had to keep his head above water with different jobs.

[10] He married his childhood sweetheart, Sue, and stumbled accidentally into acting, when in 1987 he got a concussion playing rugby. It forced him to sit at the edge of the field for three weeks. During that time, his wife saw an advertisement and telephone number of the tour group of "Are You Lonesome Tonight", a musical tribute to Elvis Presley. She made an audition appointment for Smith. He got the role of a bodyguard and was the replacement for the lead. The Christchurch Court Theatre took him permanently as their new young lead actor when he was 24 years old. He spent the following three years on stage. While he played the role of Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando played him in the movie, 1951) in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, he auditioned for New Zealand's popular prime-time soap Gloss. He got the role of the handsome villain Demian Vermeer in the show's final season. Next, he was cast as the typical New Zealandian guy in the sketch-comedy show Away Laughing.

[11] Smith continued performing in productions of the Mercury Theatre, from Let's Do It to The Rose Tattoo, and Ladies Night to Fallen Angels. Then he played another 'bad boy' in the prime time drama Marlin Bay. This was followed by The Blue Room and A Streetcar Named Desire at the Auckland Theatre Company. Planned also was The Rocky Horror Show. When you watch rerun of the show F/X you should pay attention to the episode no. 213 Vigilantes, in which Smith plays a drug dealer. Or to the atmospheric TV movie McLouds Daughters, in which he played an agricultural laborer.

[12] In the meantime, Smith, and his wife, had settled in Auckland and were proud parents of three sons: Willard (4), Tyrone (8), and Oscar (11). This family idyll was suddenly destroyed when Smith was fatally injured.

[13] Kevin Smith stood up for children who suffered unspeakable harm through war. Whenever and wherever he could, he supported the "War Child" project by appearing at charities. Smith was a loving father. As soon as filming was finished, his time absolutely and undividedly belonged to his family. Through The International Official Kevin Smith Fan Club (established in 1998), I had the opportunity to interact with Kevin quite a few times. I knew him as a humorous person who loved to laugh, who was kind and open-minded, and a good listener.

[14] I will never forget him.

Sightseeing With Kevin

[15] In July 2001, we had the chance to meet Kevin Smith, eye to eye in Auckland. An unforgettable experience, our sightseeing tour was with Robert Bruce, his agent, who only joined my tour group at the beginning of my trip, and Kevin Smith. However, please go on reading so that you will again have the chance to meet Kevin Smith as the man he was.

[16] Robert Bruce and Kevin Smith were sitting on a couch discussing a new script:

Robert: We are looking at a script that came in for Kevin. I have read most of it last night, but Kevin doesn't know it. It's quite interesting so we are looking at it right now.
Kevin: Normally we are doing things like that during our training in the fitness center, either at the workout or after that. It's rather the way we do this.
Robert: Therefore, most of the scripts and also the fan mail are there. We train together every week.
Kevin: It's simply nicer. It's more relaxed while we are training and having fun. It's always a relaxed time. For that reason, we make it at the fitness center -- talking about the work, training, and having a good time.
Robert: It's like golf, although I don't play golf. Kevin can play golf--
Kevin (interrupts): Yeah, but only really bad! (laughs)
Robert: Well, our 'golf play,' it's just our fitness center. We can be physically active and talk about the business at the same time. Kevin: We have been training together for over 12 years and when I came there for the first time Robert detailed me for training at once, at five o'clock. And I thought five o'clock in the afternoon. But no, he meant five o'clock in the morning!
Robert: Well, and today we still do it like that!

[17] Finally, my group left the office behind us to see more of Auckland itself. Kevin and Robert drove us to a coffee shop called 'Mecca' where one can get the best coffee in town. Then we drove to one of the most beautiful viewpoints of Auckland: Mt. Eden. After that, we visited another beautiful attraction and much to our surprise, we already knew this place from the show, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys "The Wedding of Alcmene" (episode no. 21).

[18] We continued our tour with a visit to the monument of a former Prime Minister from where one can see the Maori-Country and St. Helias. St. Helias is a beautiful small town at the seaside of Auckland with an impressive view over the whole bay. After that, our short sightseeing tour was over!

[19] Yet, we still had a little time leftover to do a short interview:

Hanne: We have heard that you have made a new TV film in which you play a boxer. Was it influenced by it your normal training and what is the film about?
Kevin: OK, it's no TV film. It's a theatre play, which is called A Streetcar Named Desire, and will probably begin, at the end of the year or at the beginning of the next year but I have already begun with the training for it -- old well-known boxer training. Running, skipping, training with others in the ring, and so on!
Hanne: Have you film offers?
Kevin: There are some, maybe I will shoot in the States. There is something which may be will be shot in October. But it's not concrete or certain.
Hanne: RTL [a German television station] will show the last season of Xena soon. Tell us a little bit about the storyline, especially about Ares and how it goes on with him!
Kevin: I don't want to tell everything but, Ares gets back his power; or better said, Xena takes care that he gets back his power. But somehow, it was strange to shoot the last episodes. If you think back on Ares original appearance: long hair and so on, we could have shot episodes as Ares, the biker. It was sad to take off my old costume and to let it hang there -- seven years simply hang there. Simply sad!
Hanne: At the end, do you want to say some words to your fans? You know we will show the video at our coming club meeting!
(Kevin cuts in laughingly - embraces Hannelore.)
Kevin: "Hello boys and girls, here from New Zealand. I hope you will see us in the near future in Germany. I really want to go there and I also have promised Hannelore it a thousand times. I thank you for the work that you put into the club. And although the shows, Xena and Hercules, are over now, it's good to know that there is still affection and support for me out there. So, all the best for you, YOU BEWDYS!"

Robert Bruce

[20] At last Robert Bruce, Kevin's agent, was so kind to send me a letter with his thoughts about Kevin. With Robert's permission, I will close my report and portrait of Kevin Smith.

From: "Robert Bruce"
To: "Hannelore Müller"
Concerned: Kevin Smith Memorial
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2002 07:16 a.m.

Hi Karl and Hannelore,

Three words come into mind when I think of Kevin, KEVIN LOVED PEOPLE and PEOPLE LOVED KEVIN.

I first met Kevin on the December 7th, 1989 at 1:30pm. He had come to see me on recommendation from one of my other actor/friends, Mark Hadlow.

We had an instant bond and realized our sense of humor was the same. Kevin was also into physical fitness so we started training 4 times a week, starting at 5 in the morning, and did this for 12 plus years.

I really enjoyed helping to build his career and making people realize his many talents.

Since he passed away I have had countless emails and cards from fans, other actors, production crew, and crew personnel who unanimously say how wonderful and professional he was to work with.

I will particularly miss him, as he became my best friend and was so supportive when my wife passed away last year. At the memorial service, I ended my tribute with a couple of verses of poetry from Robert Burns:

Epistle To A Young Friend

I long have thought my youthful friend of something to send you
Though it should serve no other end than just a kind memento
But how the subject theme may go
Let time and chance determine
Perhaps it may turn out a song
perhaps turn out a sermon
Adieu dear amiable youth!
Your heart can never be wanting!
May prudence, fortitude and truth, erect your brow undaunting!
In ploughman phrase "God speed you" still daily to grow wiser
And may you better "reck the rede" than ever did the advisor.

As a lot of this was in Scottish tongue, I have made it as neutral as possible.

Kind regards,


mueller Hannelore Mueller
Born: December 31, 1949. Place of Birth: Berlin, Germany. Married: Karl Mueller. Children: three sons. Animals: very old dog called "Bee". In charge of: The International Official Kevin Smith Fan Club; Official European Kevin Sorbo Fan Club; The International Andromeda Fan Club. Favorite Movies: Braveheart, The Last Knight, Dancing with Wolves, The Patriot, Lord of the Rings, and Lethal Weapon 1-4. TV-series: Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Angel, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Andromeda. Actors: Kevin T. Smith, Kevin Sorbo, Adrian Paul, Mel Gibson, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Jeff Goldblum, Bruce Willis, John Wayne, P. Brice. Actresses: Lucy Lawless, Renee O'Connor, Katherine Hepburn, and Audrey Hepburn. Hobbies: Read all different stuff about Native Americans and the Arthurian Saga as well as Scotland and its past. Musical Instruments: Guitar, E-horn. Favorite Colors: Blue, black, red, and russet. Favorite Food: Kaiserschmarn, pasta miracoli, deserts. Dislikes: disrespectful and intriguing people, racism. Job: Works in an institution for physically and mentally handicapped people and in charge of handicapped people who live in special flats.

Favorite line: Ares: "I guess you know I'll never stop trying." Xena: "I'd expect nothing less." YOU ARE THERE.
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS



Return to Top Return to Index