It’s hard to believe the third series of smash-hit comedy/drama The Brokenwood Mysteries is already well underway!
We chatted to its two lead stars, Fern Sutherland and Neill Rea, about on-set capers, international success and the biggest mysteries they face in their own lives.
The show is experiencing huge success in France, as well as Denmark. What do you make of that success?
Fern: I think of places like France and Denmark as being pretty flash. So if they like our show, it must be all right then, eh? Someone I haven’t spoken to since high school messaged me with a picture of the Metro newspaper and was like, “You’re in the paper in Paris!” And I was like, “Yeah. I’m a pretty big deal.” Ha!
Neill: There’s a fan in Canada who is particularly onto it. So much so that I asked him if he was an ex-detective and no, it turned out he was a journo.
Where’s the strangest place you’ve been recognised from the show?
Fern: While I was working in a well-known bookshop in Sydney, a Chinese woman came running up to me excitedly. She was going around New Zealand and Australia with a tour group, and had watched the show on Air New Zealand during the flight to Aussie. She was quite beside herself to get off the plane and walk straight into me. She seemed very concerned about the fact I was working in a bookshop in Sydney rather than solving crime in rural New Zealand. She kept repeating “Detective Kristin Sims” over and over. It was hilarious.
Neill: The customs officer asked for an autograph and then proceeded to search my bags.
Who would be your dream guest star on the show?
Fern: Dean O’Gorman because he is one of the best actors on the planet and also one of the best humans. I live with Michelle Langstone, so it would be fun to have her pop down the road from Weld (where her show 800 Words is set) to come and run the book club in Brokenwood.
Neill: The renowned New Zealand actor Alison Bruce.
What does your real-life partner think of your job/role on the show?
Neill: She [Alison Bruce] quite rightly thinks she’d do it better.
Fern: To be honest, he’s still not over the fact that we get fed a free lunch every day and always asks me what was on the menu. I’d say he probably likes that Kristin doesn’t have to kiss anyone or have sexual relations with anyone.
What can we expect from the rest of the new series?
Neill: I could tell you but then I‘d have to kill you. Nah... a bit of spider action, car action, and equestrian action. Not all at the same time! Fern:** Bad coffee, bad papier mâché, and bad clowns. So bad, it’s good!
What do you most enjoy about being on the show?
Fern: The fact that I get to play a formidable female character who doesn’t have to use her sexuality to get what she wants. Plus, all of the guest characters are actually the crème de la crème of New Zealand acting talent. I always learn a lot.
Neill: The free wardrobe socks, which I’m not supposed to steal but I do and Ben, the unit manager, who makes the best coffee of anyone I know.
Where is the strangest place you’ve filmed over the series?
Fern: It’s got to be a working funeral home chiller.
Neill: It’s a toss up between playing a guitar in a bath and being dressed up in a giant spider suit.
What’s the biggest mystery you’ve solved in your own life?
Fern: I always wondered why 750ml of wine is the standard bottle size. Like, why not make it a litre? And I learnt recently that it’s because 750ml is actually your average person’s lung capacity. So glass blowers can’t blow any bigger bottles. These are some of the big issues in my life.
Neill: How to make a perfect pavlova. The first one I made was perfect. The second pavlova was absolutely appalling. I stopped at two, so the mystery remains unsolved.