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Cliff Curtis opens up about Hollywood fame and homegrown success

Fresh from his big wins at the Matariki Awards over the weekend, we catch up with the Kiwi star to talk everything from being a role model to working with Bruce Willis
Cliff Curtis

There was a galaxy of glittering stars, but it was Fear the Walking Dead actor Cliff Curtis who shone the brightest at 2016 Matariki Awards at the Auckland Museum.

Having conquered Hollywood after starring in Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider, the 47-year-old walked away from the glamorous event with multiple trophies, including the Te Tohu Tiketike o Matariki Supreme Award and the Te Waipuna-a-Rangi Award for Arts and Entertainment.

Afterwards, he talked to Woman’s Day about his success in the States and what he thinks of his blockbuster colleagues …

Watch Cliff’s acceptance speech in the video below – story continues after the video

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First off, congratulations! How do you feel about being such an influential figure in Maoridom?

Thank you. It’s a huge honour and a privilege. I didn’t expect it as I’ve just been busy doing my job. I think if I do everything to the best of my standard, it will lead to better things. Mainly I feel heartened by seeing all the other people that are here tonight, in education, science, sports and the other sectors of entertainment. I am very humbled. It’s great to celebrate those things together.

Did you ever think you would be so successful?

No, not at all. It feels so surreal. My perceptions of me are that I’m a Maori boy from Rotorua, so I still haven’t let go of that self-image. Humility is just drilled into us. You can’t have a fat head where I come from – you’d get your ears slapped!

We have to ask – how was working with Bruce Willis on Die Hard?

It was great! He’s an extremely cool guy. He is very similar to Johnny Depp [Cliff’s co-star in Blow] – they’re both on a different level of cool.

And what about Harrison Ford in Crossing Over?

Yeah, he is on a different level of cool too!

Other winners on the night included All Blacks legend Nehe Milner-Skudder, who took home the Te Waitā Award for Sport, and TV personality Scotty Morrison, who won the Te Waitī Award for Te Reo & Tikanga.

See more photos from the Matariki Awards in our gallery below

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