Spun off from the wildly popular comics adaptation The Walking Dead, the series initially takes place in Los Angeles at the very dawn of the zombie apocalypse. Our focus is on a blended family who slowly come to understand that, not to put too fine a point on it, the dead are rising to dine on the living, and have to figure out how to survive as society crumbles around them.
The cast is absolutely top-notch, including Deadwood’s Kim Dickens, Harry Potter’s Frank Dillane, Australian actor Alycia Debnam-Carey, Panamanian entertainment legend Rubén Blades and, best of all, New Zealand’s Cliff Curtis.
Easily one of New Zealand’s most accomplished actors, Cliff Curtis was born in Rotorua, The Bay of Plenty, on July 27, 1958. He carved out an impressive stage career, studying at the New Zealand Drama School and Switzerland’s Teatro Dimitri Scuola and performing in numerous New Zealand theatre productions before making his screen debut with a minor role in Jane Campion’s The Piano in 1993.
However, it was in Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors that Curtis first came to international prominence. Adapted from Alan Duff’s controversial 1990 novel, the 1994 film is a confronting portrayal of alcoholism and domestic violence in an impoverished Maori community. The film’s breakout star was, of course, Temuera Morrison, whose muscular portrayal of the charismatic but brutal Jake the Muss became emblematic of the film. But Jake’s opposite number is Curtis’s Uncle Bully, a charming predator whose rape of Jake’s teenage daughter, Grace (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell) propels the film to a bleak and horrifying climax.
The role propelled Curtis onto the international stage where, happily, his versatility soon saw him transcend villainous roles to become a sought-after character actor.