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We're Here to Help
South Pacific Pictures
Excerpts from the Press Kit






Playing New Zealand politician Rodney Hide in We’re Here to Help is not the first time that actor Michael Hurst has portrayed a well-known real-life character on screen.

“I’ve appeared as James Joyce and former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon on screen before,” he says. “But Rodney Hide is a very prominent contemporary politician in New Zealand so my aim was to capture the essence of the man.”

Michael is quick to acknowledge that he is physically very different to Rodney Hide.  “When they asked me to play the part, I made a joke because it was like the filmmakers thought ‘Let’s find the person that looks the least like Rodney Hide and cast them’,” he laughs.  But Michael reckons he has a similar energy to the politician as depicted in the film.  “Rodney has a real energy and a real hunger for getting things done,” he says.

“The important thing for me was to really get the essence of the man.  He has a great sense of humour but at times he’s really provocative so those are the things that I’ve looked for,” explains Michael.  “What we’ve ended up with, I think, is a stocky, smallish bull of a man who’s really sharp and energetic.”

Michael spent some time researching the role.  “I watched tapes of Rodney when he first got into Parliament and he was being defensive and coy about who he was going to talk with,” he explains.  “I also got some tapes of Dancing with the Stars [in which Rodney appeared in 2006] because I wanted to see what Rodney was like when he was up and fiery.

“It’s interesting, parliamentarians have a separate set of cadences as well as their natural voices.  They have this other rhythm that goes on the way they ask questions so I wanted to catch that.”

Michael met with Rodney when the MP visited the set of We’re Here to Help on the day that they filmed the parliamentary scenes and the pair had a good talk. “He told us some great stories about what really had happened in this case and it was amazing.  You’d be shocked – this is just the tip of the iceberg."


The character of New Zealand politician Rodney Hide was one of the biggest challenges in the casting process.  Hide is a prominent member of the contemporary New Zealand political scene and is well-known to the New Zealand public, so finding the right actor for the role initially proved daunting.

“With the other real-life people who are named in the film, we felt that we could take some liberties with casting actors who didn’t look exactly like them,” explains [producer Paul] Davis.  “But with Rodney Hide, we had to come close to his physicality and his energy.  We chose Michael Hurst because we wanted a really good actor who could bring the right level of energy and a superb performance to the role.”

Rodney Hide was invited to the film’s set on the day that the crew shot the scenes set in Parliament.  “He was, as much as anything, a technical advisor,” says [producer John] Barnett.   Rodney was able to describe to the crew what people would do in the House and finer details like what would be on the desks.  He also met his likeness, a suited-up Michael Hurst and was able to observe filming.  “I think he was completely chuffed,” says Barnett.  “In fact, he was quite emotional about seeing some of those scenes playing out again.”


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