Curtis in 2016
Clifford Vivian Devon Curtis
27 July 1968
Unknown (m. 2009)
Clifford Vivian Devon Curtis (born 27 July 1968) is a New Zealand actor. His film credits include Once Were Warriors (1994), Blow (2001), Whale Rider (2002), Live Free Or Die Hard (2007) and The Dark Horse (2014) for which he won the Best Performance by an Actor award at the 2014 Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Curtis had television series roles on NBC's Trauma and Body of Proof, and ABC's Missing. From 2015 to 2017, Curtis portrayed Travis Manawa on the AMC horror drama series Fear the Walking Dead.
Curtis, one of eight children, was born in Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand, and is the son of an amateur dancer. Curtis is of Māori descent; his tribal affiliations are Te Arawa and Ngāti Hauiti.
As a boy he studied mau rākau, a traditional Māori form of taiaha fighting, with Māori elder Mita Mohi on Mokoia Island, which nurtured his abilities as a performer in kapa haka. Curtis later performed as a breakdancer and then competitively in rock 'n' roll dance competitions. He received his secondary education at Western heights High School, Rotorua.
New Zealand career
Curtis started acting in amateur productions of musicals Fiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha with the Kapiti Players and the Mantis Cooperative Theatre Company, before attending the New Zealand Drama School and Teatro Dimitri Scoula in Switzerland. He worked at a number of New Zealand theatre companies, including Downstage, Mercury Theatre, Bats Theatre, and Centre Point. His stage roles include Happy End, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Othello, The Cherry Orchard, Porgy and Bess, Weeds, Macbeth, Serious Money, and The End of the Golden Weather.
His first feature film role was a small part in the Oscar-nominated Jane Campion film The Piano. He went on to win attention in Once Were Warriors, one of the most successful films released on New Zealand screens; the line "Uncle f**ken Bully" referring to Curtis's character spoken by "Jake the Muss" Temuera Morrison, became one of New Zealand film's most memorable and quoted lines, as well as being part of the "Kiwiana" trend. He also played a seducer in the melodrama Desperate Remedies. In 2000 Curtis starred as family man Billy Williams in Jubilee, before playing father to the lead character in the international hit Whale Rider.
In 2004 with producer Ainsley Gardiner, Curtis formed independent film production company Whenua Films. The goals of the company are to support the growth of the New Zealand indigenous film-making scene, and support local short filmmakers. He and Gardiner were appointed to manage the development and production of films for the Short Films Fund for 2005-06 by the New Zealand Film Commission. They have produced several shorts under the new company banner, notably Two Cars, One Night, which received an Academy Award nomination in 2005, and Hawaikii by director Mike Jonathan in 2006. Both short films circulated through many of the prestigious international film festivals like the Berlinale.
At the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Miramax Films bought US distribution rights to their first feature film, a relationship comedy titled Eagle vs Shark, directed by Taika Waititi. Waititi's follow-up feature Boy, also from Whenua Films, went on to become the highest grossing New Zealand film released on its own soil.
In 2014, Curtis played the lead role in The Dark Horse, which the National Radio review called "one of the greatest New Zealand films ever made." The New Zealand Herald praised him for his "towering performance" as real-life Gisborne speed chess player and coach Genesis Potini, who died in 2011. Curtis studied chess and deliberately put on weight for the role.
Curtis has appeared in the films Martin Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead (1999), Three Kings (1999), the drug drama Blow (2001) with Johnny Depp, Training Day (2001), Collateral Damage (2002), Live Free or Die Hard (2007), Sunshine (2007), Push (2009), and Colombiana (2011). In M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender (2010), he played the main villain, Fire Lord Ozai. Curtis portrayed Lt. Cortez in the film Last Knights (2015) and Jesus Christ in the film Risen (2016).
In the NBC TV drama Trauma, he played daredevil flight medic Reuben "Rabbit" Palchuck. Curtis was cast as Travis Manawa, a leading male role of the AMC TV series Fear the Walking Dead, the official spin-off of The Walking Dead.
Curtis guards his personal life closely. He got married in late 2009 in a lavish private ceremony at his home, and has three children.
|1994||Kahu & Maia|
|1994||Once Were Warriors||Bully|
|1994||Rapa Nui||Short Ears|
|1998||Six Days, Seven Nights||Kip|
|1999||Three Kings||Amir Abdulah|
|1999||Bringing Out the Dead||Cy Coates|
|1999||The Insider||Sheikh Fadlallah (as Clifford Curtis)|
|2001||The Majestic||The Evil But Handsome Prince Khalid|
|2002||Collateral Damage||Claudio El Lobo Perrini|
|2003||Runaway Jury||Frank Herrera|
|2004||Heinous Crime||Pizza delivery man|
|2006||The Fountain||Captain Ariel|
|2007||Live Free or Die Hard||FBI Deputy Director Miguel Bowman|
|2009||Crossing Over||Hamid Baraheri|
|2010||The Last Airbender||Fire Lord Ozai|
|2012||A Thousand Words||Dr. Sinja|
|2014||The Dark Horse||Genesis Potini|
|2015||Last Knights||Lt. Cortez|
|2016||Risen||Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth|
|2018||The Meg||James “Mac” Mackreides|
|1991||Under Cover||Zip||Television film|
|1994||Hercules in the Underworld||Nessus|
|1995||Mysterious Island||Peter||2 episodes|
|1996||City Life||Daniel Freeman||4 episodes|
|1998||The Chosen||Father Tahere||Television film|
|2002||Point of Origin||Mike Camello|
|2004||Traffic||Adam Kadyrov||3 episodes|
|2009–2010||Trauma||Reuben 'Rabbit' Palchuk||20 episodes|
|2011||Body of Proof||FBI Agent Derek Ames||2 episodes|
|2012||Missing||Agent Dax Miller||10 episodes|
|2014||Gang Related||Javier Acosta||13 episodes|
|2015–2017||Fear the Walking Dead||Travis Manawa||21 episodes|
|2016–2017||Talking Dead||Himself||3 episodes|
- "AMC's "Fear the Walking Dead" Begins Production in Vancouver" (Press release). AMC. May 11, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015.
- "Whenua Films". Whenua Films. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- Haines, Leah (12 February 2006). "Cliff Curtis, the megastar with a mortgage". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
- ""Don't cry for me, Waititi" says Pita Sharples". Scoop. 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- Parahi, Carmen (Interviewer) (Dec 15, 2014). "Cliff Curtis: My real life tragedy, violence and triumph". Youtube. Marae TV.
- "The Dark Horse: Cliff's Edge". The NZ Herald. July 26, 2014.
- "...a funny, warm-hearted comedy set in heartland New Zealand...", New Zealand Film Commission
- "Wellington director's feature to be the highest-grossing NZ production". Wellington.scoop.co.nz. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- "Film review with Dan Slevin". Radio New Zealand National. 24 July 2014.
- Baillie, Russell (31 July 2014). "Movie review: The Dark Horse". The New Zealand Herald.
- Hibberd, James (December 4, 2014). "Inside TV: 'Walking Dead' spinoff casts male lead". EW.
- Moore, Debi (March 29, 2015). "News: See the First Teaser for AMC's Fear the Walking Dead". Dread Central.
- "Cliff Curtis starred as daredevil flight medic Reuben "Rabbit" Palchuck...". NBC. 14 July 2010. Archived from the original on 9 December 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- Prudom, Laura (News Editor) (2014). "The Walking Dead' Companion Series Casts Cliff Curtis as Male Lead". Variety.
- "Cliff Curtis explains why Fear the Walking Dead is more than a zombie show". www.ew.com. Retrieved 17 September 2016.
- MrDisgusting (March 29, 2015). "'Fear The Walking Dead' Trailer: Get Your Flu Shot!". Bloody Disgusting.
- "'Fear the Walking Dead' Star Cast in All Four 'Avatar' Sequels". EW.com. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
- "Cliff Curtis' NZ wedding". The New Zealand Herald. 3 January 2010. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
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