Parker’s Pen – Mercy Peak’s Craig is trying his luck in greener pastures
By Kylie Tannahill
Whoever said an actor’s life is glamorous is telling porkies. Just ask Mercy Peak star Craig Parker. What the 33-year-old actor thought would be a quick, cute scene ended up with him sloshing through mud and pigs’ droppings.
In the hit TV One drama Mercy Peak, Craig’s character Alistair Kingsley adopts 12 pink piglets for his transgenic research project. Yet while it was a happy storyline, behind the scenes Craig was finding his new co-stars’ animal antics hard to deal with.
“We had this skittery, pooey pig wrapped in a blanket that we had to keep passing back and forth between us. Every time you’d get covered in a little bit more of his disgusting, stinky poo.”
Having worked with animals only a handful of times, Craig was under the impression the piglets would be cute and cuddly.
“I had stupidly expected them to be little pink things that would be lovely and sweet and we’d be cuddling them and it would be a happy day. But it was a horrible day and they smell.”
It’s not Craig’s first experience with pigs. As a seven-year-old growing up in Fiji, he spent a month looking after his neighbour’s pig. Unbeknownst to him he was fattening up the sow for a feast.
“We became very fond of this pig. It was huge. The day they built the house, they had a big party and we heard this almighty squealing, like a baby being tortured, and it was the pig being killed,” he laughs.
Well known in New Zealand as Guy Warner from Shortland Street, Craig has recently gained an international following after playing elf Haldir in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. He even has fan websites.
The Lord of the Rings recognition is taking him to far-flung places to attend conventions and with Mercy Peak wrapping up for good recently, Craig is headed overseas indefinitely to pursue his acting work and indulge his love of travel. His first port of call is Slovakia.
“There’s no other time I would think to go to Slovakia so I must go. I went to a convention last year in Germany thinking it was going to be strange. But Lord of the Rings is such a powerful influence, as a book, that I think a lot of people who loved the book, loved the film. They’re smart, funny and have a sense of humour and it’s not as freakish as I imagined it to be.”
While he is sad to see Mercy Peak end, he says it was great to be involved in making quality New Zealand drama.
“It’s been the smartest production I’ve ever worked on and the happiest. The actors can all act, the scripts are smart and subtle and we have a crew who genuinely love it. IT feels very strongly that it is our project. If people watch it that’s fine, but we’re making it for ourselves.”
For now, Craig, who says in an ideal world he would travel six months each year, is focusing on relaxing. In Nepal last year, as part of TV One’s Intrepid Journeys series, he braved the mountain cold to go to the toilet. But he is taking a much more low-key approach to his European travels.
“I don’t like itineraries. Work is always about being on time and working to certain schedules, but to travel and go, ‘Where shall we go today?’ is just excellent.”
While acting will be the last thing on his mind as he sips wine in France and sunbathes in Greece, Craig says he could never imagine giving up his job.
“It’s still the thing I love and besides I can’t do anything else. I’m useless at all the other stuff.”