Craig’s Big OE – The Mercy Peak actor’s adventure of a lifetime
When Craig Parker took the role of Haldir in The Lord of the Rings, he knew there would be some hard-core fans to reckon with.
He certainly didn’t anticipate getting a similar reaction for his role as Dr Alistair Kingsley in the Kiwi drama series Mercy Peak, which will be back on our screens on 16 January. But during a visit to Toronto, he arranged to meet one of the show’s most devoted fans, who had already flown to New Zealand to try and meet the stars.
“Her name was Angela and she was lovely,” says Craig, who met her after she drove the 300 km from Ottawa. “She went out to New Zealand a few months ago but filming had just finished and all she managed to get was her picture outside South Pacific Pictures. WithMercy Peak, there’s this whole trading thing going on, where people are trading tapes. I think it’s amazing how our shows get around the world.”
Because Mercy Peak has finished filming for good, Craig (33) decided to spend some time travelling overseas. “I had a very nice life. I was comfortable and enjoying myself but I thought, ‘Right, now I’m going to have an adventure.'”
Since August, he has been based in the UK and travelled to Venice and Slovenia. He also went to Germany for the Lord of the Ringspremiere in Berlin. “It was the premiere for Europe and it was fantastic,” he says, speaking from his hotel in Toronto. “All the Fellowshipguys were there and Peter [Jackson] and there was a very cool party afterwards. Although I had to jump on a plane at 5 am to come here!”
The reason Craig was in Canada was also due to The Lord of the Rings. He and Kiwi co-star Mark Ferguson, who played Gil-Galad, were invited to a charity fundraiser organised by the Canadian Pro Literacy Foundation, where they talked about being involved in the film.
It was set up by this group of Tolkien fans, who decided to follow Tolkien’s philosophy and give something back to education. The strangest question I got asked was, ‘Do balrogs have wings?’ which is not something I have ever considered. But there are people in this world who consider these things and consider them deeply,” he laughs. “It’s only since I’ve been travelling that I’ve seen how huge the obsession with the Rings is around the world. In New Zealand, it’s like our little film.”
As for Craig’s next career move, he’s happy just to enjoy the art galleries and theatres of London and Europe until something definite comes along. “There are some things in the pipeline but until you turn up on set, you never talk about it. I haven’t gone seeking fame and fortune. I just want to take some time out, wander round a bit and see some life.”
Some of the sights he’s seen have even left him a bit starstruck. “A friend of mine got us front row seats watching David Bowie. And I went to see Parkinson being filmed and David Beckham was there, which was really cool. You can just pop into the pub here and there will be a major star right next to you.”
But for all the excitement and glamour of overseas, thoughts of home are always close to the surface. “The Rings films have done such huge things for our landscape and when you look at the blue skies, looking out at those views and having a barbecue, it does make you quite homesick.”
By Maryvonne Gray
Mercy Peak screens 8.30pm, Friday 16 January on TV One.