Guy Warner back on the Street
Friday May 04, 2007
Craig Parker used to think he’d never return to Shortland Street. When producer Jason Daniel asked if he’d be interested in reprising his role as Guy Warner, Parker turned him down. “Then he rang and went through the storyline and it was really quite fun and different from the Guy we knew,” says the actor, who came back from London for the part.
“He’s still Guy but there’s other stuff that’s been dumped on him.”
Parker is back to help to celebrate the soap’s 15th birthday. Only this time, his hair is not quite as big.
Fans will recall a truck plunging through the clinic walls, killing Guy’s partner, Carmen, played by Theresa Healey, with whom Parker says he’s still in touch.
Her death had a particularly horrifying effect on Guy: he became a self-help guru in the style of Dr Phil. For the past decade he’s been forging a successful living touring the world flogging how-to-parent books, and showing up on chatshows. When he turns up at the Warner family home, he causes dramas for his brother Chris while trying to set up his own TV show.
“I hate that stuff,” says Parker. “I think it’s the worst symptom of people not taking responsibility for themselves. Why go on a syndicated show and talk about your most private issues? People so crave fame and notoriety and will sell their souls for it.”
Guy is also back in town with another interesting accessory – his daughter, Tuesday. She does most of the parenting in their relationship as Guy never got over Carmen and went on to a string of failed relationships.
This time he’s back for just a few weeks, which suggests he’s become the bad guy. But Parker says it wasn’t a stretch to return to the role.
“After playing Guy for four years it’s locked in. No matter how much time passes, you remember. But I did look at my audition tape from 1992 the other day and that was quite scary. Lots of big hair, big shoulder pads. We thought we looked terribly cool back then but there was quite a lot of gel, quite a lot of height.”
Back on set, Parker wasn’t the pimp daddy you might expect, despite being surrounded by a new cast, other than Michael Galvin, who plays his brother Chris.
“It’s a really strong cast of actors at the moment. There have been periods where that hasn’t been the case. The great thing about working on that show was that you get to know everyone so well. There’s 100 people working out there every day and the tension is huge so you become like a very, very close family – far too close at times.
“Around 3 o’clock is when tension hits when everyone is sugar-depleted and goes a bit mental. You end up finding the dumbest things hilarious. They can be the most stupid moments but you end up laughing like you’d never normally laugh.”
He also loved the opportunity the soap genre gave him to play everything from a bereaved lover one week to “ridiculous comedy” the next.
“It gave me a huge amount of experience for four years and taught me to not take myself seriously.
“When you’re young and eager you can often be quite precious about things. Just having to come up with scene after scene after scene every day makes you a professional. It makes you grow up and realise you have to make quick choices. You can’t be worrying about a scene you didn’t quite get five minutes ago because you’ve got 10 more to do.”
He recalls “millions” of cringe-worthy lines “but they were cringe-worthy because of the way I delivered them” he says.
“For a good year and a half I couldn’t watch it. I’d have to be in the foetal position.”
After Shortland Street, Parker went on to star in Mercy Peak, and won his most memorable film role playing Haldir in the first two Lord of the Rings films.
Five years ago he went on his OE to London, taking two years off to travel. There were a few films and theatre roles but Parker says his love for travelling meant he didn’t particularly want to do anything but “be a total brat”.
His turn on Shortland Street has followed him throughout Europe, where the show also screens, but he says he likes that New Zealanders don’t care so much about celebrities or stars.
“You realise it means nothing to you personally and you have to just get over it. You don’t spend your whole life seeking fame, which is the most destructive thing in the world. I’d be surprised if the fans watching today were alive when I was on it.”