Kev's feet on ground - The New Zealand Herald - 2003 (February 17)

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This article is from the newspaper The New Zealand Herald, dated February 17, 2003, featuring Kevin Smith.

The high-res newspaper scans are from Bryn. Article text from The New Zealand Herald.

Kev's feet on ground

By Fiona Rae.
POPULAR: No one who met Kevin Smith was unimpressed, from his local fruit-shop owner to the American fans.

      Way back in my callow youth, when I would ride around Christchurch on a motorbike and had dyed orange hair, I used to hang out with a bunch of people who lived in a grungy flat above a fruit shop.

      Some of them were in a band called Say Yes to Apes and, as far as I can remember, all of us seemed to spend a good deal of time drinking beer and talking rubbish. As you do.

      One of them was Kevin Smith, flabby teen, already betrothed to Sue and not really knowing what he wanted to do with himself. At one stage, he talked about joining the police. Something to do with helping kids.

      This is not to say I knew Kevin Smith but more to say that I was just one of an extraordinary number of people that did. Consequently, a tribute to Kev, who died a year ago, was always going to be a big ask.

      So it was good to see Saturday's Remembering Kev: A Tribute to Kevin Smith included aspects of his life other than his performing career because, as Auckland Theatre Sports creative director Claire Kelso commented, it was Kev's complete knowledge that he brought to the stage.

      With his background of music and acting, he was also well grounded with the family, he was interested in current events, he was hugely interested in sports, and he brought this complete knowledge, with a great sense of humour, with great stage presence and he combined it all.

      It's true, he had everything and could just about do everything. He was always looking for the truth and humour in a situation and I wonder what fun Kev might have gained from having his life and career compiled into a commercial hour.

      Kelso also believed that his improv work was his best, although the role for which he will be remembered by the largest number of people is Ares in Hercules and Xena. It was a role that fitted Kev nicely. All those winter afternoons in Timaru and Christchurch watching trash telly had paid off, as had all those mornings at the gym.

      It's hard for us down here to estimate the impact of that role in the United States. New Zealanders have never really taken to that fantasy thing in a big way. US fans were, and are, legion and it led to the role he was about to take up in the US, starring with Bruce Willis in the movie Tears of the Sun. As Robert Bruce explained, Kev was to play the role of Willis' buddy. That's a Hollywood break by anyone's standards although typically, as Michael Hurst commented, he wanted the role, the job, not stardom.

      The consistent testimony of his friends in the documentary spoke about his remarkable ability to connect in a real way. No one who met Kev was unimpressed, from the fruit-shop owner with whom he talked rugby to, no doubt, Bruce Willis' casting agent.

      It's a bloody shame, frankly. As his friend Michael Woodnorth (Woody) says, the world's not quite as funny as it was when Kev was here.

Click image for high-res version.