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The Actors

Andy Rodoreda Kate Atkinson Scott Wills
Blair Strang Jeff Szusterman    Robbie Magasiva
Nick Kemplen  Henry Mackenzie Sarah McLeod
Marissa Stott Tandi Wright Gregor McLennan
Ginette McDonald Charmaine Guest Full Cast





Andrew Rodoreda (Lucas)

An Australian actor, the lead role in Doves of War is the largest to date for Andrew Rodoreda.

 “On first reading the script I was really drawn to the character of Lucas, before I even knew I had the part. Lucas is a pretty complex piece of work, but at the same time he’s an ordinary man. Within the story he constantly finds himself in positions where he has to make huge decisions under an intense amount of pressure. He’s strong, a hero but also a villain. It was a real treat to play. He’s been in incredible situations, but is completely human”.

 Rodoreda auditioned by sending in a tape to ScreenWorks, then did another audition for director Chris Bailey in Sydney.

 To prepare for the part, Rodoreda researched the Bosnian conflict. He also met up with a friend who used to fly the SAS around in Australia, and asked a lot of questions. “After that, you sort of look into yourself and see the things in you that match up to your character. Lucas had been through hell, you try to find your own experiences of hell, and the things that shape and change you. More than anything, for any artist – you’ve got to use your imagination. I really enjoyed that process, despite a few mad moments imagining the dark things.”

 “Director Chris Bailey helped guide me to those places. He kept me on a nice steady line. We had some quick rehearsals, which was good. I’ve worked quite a lot in theatre, and you don’t get as much time in TV.”

 “I liked how pivotal my character was to the story, but it was quite exhausting. I think I only had one mad karaoke night in Auckland because I was mostly working about 6 days per week for the two months. But, I just had such a ball! All the people I worked with were great! I was a bit naïve to how beautiful New Zealand was as I’d never even been there before! I feel really blessed to have been paid for working on such a great story set somewhere so beautiful.”

 Rodoreda is a pacifist at heart, but commenting on the scenes set in the Bosnian conflict he says, “I’m more of a sport head than a gun head, but I could tell some of the other boys had fire in their eyes when they were dressed up in camouflage and firing guns.”

Rodoreda’s previous TV credits include Blue Heelers, Water Rats and Home and Away. His theatre credits are extensive and he has had plenty of work in that genre during 2005. When he’s not acting, Rodoreda does care work for intellectually and physically disabled people, which helps keep him grounded. In 2006 Rodoreda already has more plays lined up, taking him until at least the middle of the year.

 “It’s wonderful to be able to switch from theatre to TV and in some respects choose what I want to do.”

 “I think Doves of War is streets ahead of anything we’ve done in Australia lately. In particular my hat goes off to Fred Renata the cinematographer because the footage I’ve seen looks amazing.”

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Kate Atkinson (Sophie)

Australian Kate Atkinson has been living and working in the UK since completing work on Doves of War.

The last part of the TV series was filmed in London, so Kate decided to stay on afterwards. Through word of mouth, she auditioned and won a role in the play Serial Killers, by New Zealander James Griffin. When a London agent came to see the play, Atkinson caught her attention and is now on the books. She says, “because of the work I did in that play I got a very good agent from London to come up and see me. So I got that because of the Kiwi connection.”

Atkinson was working in Melbourne when she was offered the role in Doves of War. After several good parts in high profile TV series’ she felt it was time to test the waters further abroad.

Although Atkinson would love to work in Australia and New Zealand again, she now plans to stay in the UK for a while.

“I’d been based in Melbourne for 9 years. In Australia my background had been initially theatre, then I got some guest roles on TV drama. I was in Seachange on ABC TV, which was my break, if you like.”

“When I auditioned for the role of Sophie, what I didn’t know at the time was that they were deciding what nationality she would be on the spot. They auditioned in NZ, Australia and Britain. I’ve been lucky enough in my career to land ongoing roles in TV, and principal cast roles. The job in NZ came up and it was perfect timing. I had never been to NZ before, but ScreenWorks were a really warm production company to work for and it was an entirely positive experience.”

Atkinson did not find it difficult to identify with Sophie. “Her emotional journey was interesting. She starts off very straight laced, and takes on an intellectual challenge that becomes an emotional challenge.”

Doves of War was a new genre for Atkinson, who had mostly done comedy before. “Doves of War veers into a political thriller, so it was a new challenge for me, but I really enjoyed it. I loved working in New Zealand and the South Island was everything they said it would be!”

Atkinson featured in the successful Australian film Japanese Story. Her television credits include Kath & Kim, The Cooks, SeaChange, Blue Heelers and The Man from Snowy River.

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Scott Wills (Brad)

Wills is a graduate from the New Zealand Drama School, Wellington. In 1997 he won the Chapman Tripp Best Male Newcomer Theatre award for his role as Baby in Jez Butterworths’ Mojo. He lists his most demanding and memorable theatrical role as the lead Marc Renton in the national tour of Trainspotting, the play. For this role he received several outstanding reviews across NZ print media.

 In 1998 Wills produced and acted in The Hole which was accepted to over fifteen international film festivals, the pinnacle being selected for official competition at the prestigious Clermont Ferrand International Short Film Festival, France. In 2000 The Hole won Best Film at The Drifting Clouds NZ Short Film Festival.

Wills wrote and acted in the short film Ouch in 2001, which similarly gained selection at numerous international film festivals culminating in him winning Best Actor at the Drifting Clouds Festival the following year.

 In 2000 Wills received two acting nominations in the Nokia NZ Film Awards. They were for Best Actor in a short film for his work in Ouch and Best supporting Actor for his role as Phil Hope in his first feature film, Hopeless, which was renamed Love Bites and made into a 26 part ½ hr. comedy series for TV3.

 Wills he played Wayne in the award winning NZ film Stickmen in 2001. This gained him a singled out mention in Screen International magazine and won him the Nokia NZ Film Awards trophy for Best Actor against Temuera Morrison (Once were Warriors, Star Wars, Attack of The Clones) and Karl Urban (Lord Of The Rings, Bourne Supremacy).

In 2004 Wills completed filming in the NZ/UK Feature Film Perfect Creature (coming to our screens in 2006) playing one of the principal cast roles, Detective Jones, alongside Saffron Burrows (Troy, Circle of Friends) and Dougray Scott (Enigma, Mission Impossible 2).

When Wills read the script for Doves of War he thought it was “original, intelligent, mature and dramatic.”

Having worked for ScreenWorks before on the TV series Street Legal, Wills had an idea of what he was in for. The fast turn around nature of television meant there was pressure on him to deliver the complex character of Brad.

Wills prepared for the role by researching the Bosnian war. He says, “One of the great things about acting is that every time you do a project you gain a perspective into that story. Doves of War opened my eyes to the futility faced in international peace keeping. We as the general public can never truly appreciate the trauma of those situations.”

“I enjoyed working on the series. ScreenWorks had a lot of passion and commitment to the project. It’s a six hour mini series on an international scale, which is a massive task! It’s very global in its subject matter and its execution. ScreenWorks are great at making action packed muscular drama though, so you’re always in for a good ride with those guys.”

“I believe this is the first Kiwi mini series of this length on New Zealand TV. It’s an exciting new genre for NZ television and a large step for everyone involved. My hat goes off to the production company for not backing down from what they knew was a gritty and violent story. They kept their integrity and didn’t water it down.”

Wills was the winner of the 2001 Nokia New Zealand Film Award for Best Actor (Stickmen). His film credits include Perfect Creature, Boogeyman, Stickmen and Hopeless. Television roles include parts in Mataku, Mercy Peak, Street Legal, Duggan, Love Bites, Shortland Street, Marlin Bay and Interrogation.

Wills’ theatre credits include Danny and the Deep Blue Sea, Howie the Rookie, The Shape of Things, Ranterstantrum, Beautiful Losers, Trainspotting, Abducting Diana, The Lead Wait and Mojo.

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Blair Strang (Joe)

“Playing Joe was my first major TV role for a while so I was somewhat nervous at the beginning. But once I got into it, it was fine. There were some monologues that were a real gift.”

“It would have been easy to make Joe an aggressive character, but the writer made him more interesting and layered. I had a lot of fun playing Joe. There seemed a lot more depth in this character that a lot of other characters’ I’ve played.”

“I hadn’t met the ScreenWorks team before, but it was refreshing to work with such normal blokes. It’s also nice working for a production company that know what they want. They shoot very fast and I like working that way. Shortland Street taught me to act with little preparation and now I prefer it that way. If I don’t rehearse too much it stays fresh.”

“The soldier part of Doves of War was great fun, though the actual event that takes place was pretty disturbing. Dressing up in army gear and going into caves shooting guns has to be every male actor’s dream. I didn’t think I’d get an opportunity to play a role like that, so I was glad I did.”

“I think Greg McGee knows how to write men’s parts for men, which was refreshing. I think women will like it too though because it’s a good drama.”

“Since filming this year, I had a part in Orange Roughies for ScreenWorks, where I played an even more hard line character. The other thing I’ve been doing this year is So You Wanna be a Popstar. I also work at The Auckland University Law School, looking after Maori law students, and next year I’ll be tutoring too. This year has been great; I’ve managed to fit it all in thanks to the flexibility of the Law School and ScreenWorks.”

Blair Strang’s TV credits include a core cast role (Rangi) for several years on Shortland Street, Orange Roughies, Interrogation and Mataku. He also has numerous theatre credits including the highly successful show Ladies Night.

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Jeff Szusterman (Michael)

 “When I read the Doves of War audition scene, I thought it was really nicely written. It had layers; it had baggage and weight, which is a gift and a joy for an actor. When I got the stack of scripts I slumped in a bean bag in the sun and read them from start to finish. I just wanted to pick up the next and read it.”

 After working in the Sates for 4 years in Portland Oregon, Szusterman returned to NZ and started working with kids, which is his main joy.

 Szusterman is also directing a show, writing a TV series, and a theatre piece. He has diverse skills, but feels he has to, because it’s difficult to make a living in NZ just as an actor. “I’m not interested in the traditional path of trying to make it in the States, partly because we’ve already been there. Acting isn’t about money for me. It’s about doing what you love.”

 “Working for ScreenWorks was fast. The crew were all very nice and the producer, writer and director. It was especially nice to meet Greg because I love his play Foreskin’s Lament. The space, time and sensitivity that they gave to the call back audition were great for me, and Irene Drake who did the casting did a great job. The production team gave us room as actors, which was important because it was a character driven piece.”

 Since Doves of War Szusterman has worked on Interrogation, the theatre show Suddenly Last Summer at the Silo theatre and has just finished Talley’s Folley by Landford Wilson – an American play, which he did with his wife. They produced it together in conjunction with Limelight Theatre as a fund and profile raiser for Still Water Rising – a mentoring program for kids at risk. He and his wife have been running this program for 3 years.

 “I feel quite fortunate to have been part of Doves of War.”

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Robbie Magasiva (Xavier)

 “For me this project happened all at once. I found out I had the role and the shoot was about a week or so later, so it was straight into costume fittings, and the like.”

 “Xavier was a complex character because of the event in Bosnia. When we shot the big dramatic scene, I felt the horror and shock of it. I think what happened totally affected those soldiers’ lives from then on.”


“War is something I usually have no interest in, but playing this role made me think about war more than I had before. About being in a situation where you can see what’s happening but not do anything about it. I can’t comment on what it’s like in real life, but can imagine it would be horrible.”


“I did get to live a childhood dream of being in soldier’s uniform with a gun though! Doing those scenes brought back childhood memories of playing with sticks, hiding and camouflaging ourselves.


 “I worked most closely on set with the lead Andrew Rodoreda. I hadn’t met him before, but I felt like we had a good on-screen relationship – even though he’s Australian.”


Magasiva particularly enjoyed working with ScreenWorks whom he had worked for previously on Skin & Bone. Since this series was shot Magasiva has worked on the Kiwi film Sione’s Wedding, and another war program for gay cable TV in the US called Airforce 2 Down. “It was very very funny! My first experience working with American actors - they’re a weird species, but the show was great fun!” Other than that Magasiva has been playing golf, exercising, being a house-boyfriend and a father.


 “I think Doves of War has an international flavour that will serve it well. After ScreenWorks’ previous success with Street Legal, this will go off with a roar.”


Magasiva is most recognised for his role in the TV series The Strip. His other TV credits include Skin & Bone, Mataku, Power Rangers and Jackson’s Wharf. Films include Sione’s Wedding and Perfect Creature. Magasiva has had a wide range of theatre roles including Ladies Night, the comedy group The Naked Samoans, and the dance group Black Grace.


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Nick Kemplen (Danny)

Danny was the most intense role I’ve ever taken on. As much as I love acting, turning up on a shoot day and going to such a dark, traumatic place is not pleasant. There are some heavy emotions to portray so a lot of preparation went into it for me. I watched some movies based on the Bosnian war, which helped me put myself in that zone and get a feel for what it might have been like, since that is so far from my own experience. I worked with a friend who’s an actor on the script, which really helped. Otherwise I may not have been able to go to that place on the day.”

Kemplen did some rehearsing with lead actor Andrew Rodoreda, which helped ready him for the fest turn around times of shooting television. He has previously worked with director Chris Bailey on Street Legal so was used to his style and not unfamiliar with TV drama.

“The soldier part was fun, because it was all seven of us. We had soldier training at a warehouse in Henderson and learnt how to hold the guns and fire them and how to make it look real in terms of technique. For me, there didn’t turn out to be a lot of shooting involved, though some of the other actors were shooting a lot.

“On Street Legal I had smallish parts in a couple of different episodes. Recently I did the first series of Orange Roughies. My role in that is very light and humorous. It was quite a turn around from Doves of War."

Kemplen also spent some of 2005 putting together a comedy pilot for TV2’s comedy initiative, and is in negotiations with TVNZ to get a comedy series together. Comedy being where he feels his strength as an actor lies. “It’s good to be challenged like I was with the Doves of War role though.”

Kemplen has mostly worked in television; his key roles have been for Orange Roughies, Street Legal, Xena Warrior Princess and the lead in Young Hercules.

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Henry Mackenzie (Simon)


Henry Mackenzie has played a lot of disturbed characters. As a role play specialist he plays mentally ill patients for Auckland University medical students. “In the same way as regular acting you’re given a past which affects your present.”


For this role, Mackenzie had to place the visions of what happened in Bosnia at the forefront of his mind whenever his character was confronted with tension. “Playing traumatic roles is demanding. The internal monologue is challenging to have in your head. It’s not particularly pleasant to play, but I tend to get troubled roles.”


Mackenzie has worked with ScreenWorks before on Street Legal and this experience made it easier to cope with the fast turn around of TV.


The script for Doves of War is great. For my character I felt that it allowed me to develop – because Simon is continually caught. The writing allowed me to grow and evolve comfortably.


Mackenzie’s credits include The Lunatic’s Ball, Lawless, Street Legal, Shortland Street, Mercy Peak and various theatre shows. He also teaches drama to children.


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Sarah McLeod (Grace)

Best known for the part of Rosie Cotton in The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King, Sarah McLeod immersed herself in the dramatic and emotional role of Grace.

 About getting the role of Grace, McLeod says, “the audition was slightly different to normal n that we were given a key piece of information as soon as we walked into the audition room. It was something that affected me straight away and I felt I connected emotionally with Grace at that moment. As an actor I like the really emotional roles like this.”

 “The scripts for Doves of War were great. They gave us as actors a lot to work with. I felt that even the secondary characters all had substance and a lot going on individually as well as just supporting the main characters.

McLeod had previously worked with the production company ScreenWorks on Skin & Bone along with some of the other cast members.

“I’ve had a really good year this year, with quite a lot of acting work. It sounds like next year there are lots of projects happening in Auckland too.”

As well as a busy acting career, McLeod is mum to two energetic children. “Career wise I like the fact I have a family as well, as it gives me balance. I play the mum a lot these days, which suits me fine.”

 “I think Doves of War is going to be a really good drama – raw and gripping. While making the series, you really got a sense that everyone cared about the project. It was great being able to sit down at lunch with the writer Greg McGee and have conversations about the character, and you always felt you could pop in and have a cup of tea with all the production team.”

McLeod’s past work includes the part of Rosie Cotton in The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King, for which she still receives fan mail. She has extensive acting experience, including roles in Skin & Bone, Forgotten Silver, and Shortland Street.

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Marissa Stott (Fiona)

 A regular on Kiwi screens of late, Marissa played the intellectually handicapped Amanda on Shortalnd Street. “Amanda is the antithesis of Fiona, who is full of life and youth.”

When Stott read the scripts she was excited to be involved in such a good project. Initially she had happened upon the character of Fiona when helping a friend audition. “When I was reading her lines it just clicked with me. I could feel the rythym of her character. I certainly had an affinity for her, so I rang my agent to ask specifically about Fiona.”

 “I had never worked with ScreenWorks before, but I have been working on Shortland Street this year. My acting experience is pretty spread between TV, Film and Theatre, but my last two films were Toy Love and Orphans and Angels.

Preparing for the role of Fiona, Stott wrote back story, to get into the mind of a writer. “There was a lot of fear in the text, but I played against that grain and toyed with Fiona’s sexually manipulative side.”

“I like the look of what I have seen of Doves of War so far. It looks fresh and intelligent.”

Stott’s credits include Shortland Street, Secret Agent Men, Blood Crime, Orphans & Angels, and Toy Love.

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Tandi Wright (Rowan)

Tandi Wright auditioned for a different role initially, but then enjoyed the challenge of playing Rowan, who was so different from herself.

 “Rowan was new territory for me, and it’s always a joy to play someone different from you. I had quite a lot of empathy for her, caught as she is between her ex-husband and her new husband. She’s also a very reserved person, but she wasn’t one dimensional, which is great because she’s not the largest role.”

 Wright had worked with ScreenWorks before so it was a very comfortable experience. Doves of War is quite different subject matter from Street Legal though. “I’m quite lucky because I get diverse roles. There’s a real luxury to it.”

 “2005 has been a great year, I’ve been really busy. I did a play at Downstage called Boston Marriage by David Mamot who’s a beautiful writer. That play went for three weeks, and then I did a lovely TV series called The Lost Children. That was a children’s series set in the 1870s. I had a great time on that because I love period pieces. I played a mother who gets separated from her kids, trailing through the NZ bush in completely inappropriate attire.”

“I’ve just wrapped another series of Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby. I love making comedy because you always end up laughing all day at work!”

Wright’s acting experience is extensive. Her major credits include Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby, Serial Killers, Mercy Peak, Street Legal, Maddigan’s Fantasia, Xena Warrior Princess and Shortland Street.

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 Gregor McLennan (Sonny)

Gregor McLennan worked on two and a half series’ of Street Legal, which he says was a great apprenticeship, learning the nuts and bolts of acting. “Working with the same crew again allowed me to relax as an actor, and ScreenWorks’ projects are always a nice environment to work in.

 “I actually auditioned for the role of Michael, but was recalled back and read for Sonny. I was intrigued by both roles, but Sonny appealed to me because he was more volatile, which was something I hadn’t played before.”

“As part of my research I read up on library books about the Bosnian conflict, which was something I was already interested in. Escape from Bosnia was a great personal story that gave me an insight into that part of history.”

“I have always been interested in war history, so Doves of War was especially interesting for me in that respect. I had a real interest in and connection with the story, and the research also really helped me understand what was going on.”

Before the shoot, McLennan hung out with Jeff Szusterman, who plays his on-screen brother, to help develop a brotherly bond. “We talked about the characters and what we could do. Jeff was really forthcoming and useful.”

McLennan had to use his imagination a lot to put himself into this character’s head. “Obviously I hadn’t experienced anything like what Sonny had, so I did a lot of research, and just tried to be sensitive to what those people went through.”

The character McLennan plays in Doves of War was different from the straight laced cop of Street Legal. “It was important for me to step away from Detective Mike Butterworth. Sonny is a dynamic character and one I relished. Plus I got to grow some facial hair, which I enjoyed!”

McLennan is currently doing theatre in Wellington, with a play called Dinner by Moira Buffini. He was involved in several comedy pilots in 2005, as part of the TVNZ comedy initiative project. He also did an advertising campaign in Dunedin, where he met his new wife – May-ana Tirikatene-Sullivan.

McLennan also ventured to the US for an acting course and scoped out the market over there in case he ever wants to work there.

The majority of McLennan’s experience has been in television, with the largest, a recurring role in Street Legal – series 2, 3 and 4 as Detective Mike Butterworth. McLennan has also appeared in Hercules, Shortland Street, various theatre shows, and films such as Ike, Big Time Love, and Red Head ‘Lucy’.

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Role                                                    Actor                         

Lucas                                                   Andy Rodoreda                        

Sophie                                                 Kate Atkinson                                                

Brad                                                     Scott Wills

Joe                                                       Blair Strang

Michael                                                Jeff Szusterman                                   

Xavier                                                  Robbie Magasiva                                             

Danny                                                  Nick Kemplen                                       

Simon                                                  Henry Mackenzie

Rosa                                                    Ginette McDonald

Grace                                                  Sarah McLeod

Fiona                                                   Marissa Stott

Kylie                                                    Charmaine Guest

Rowan                                                 Tandi Wright

Sonny                                                  Gregor McLennan

Jools                                                    Kama Brown

Gibbon                                                 Nathaniel Lees

DS Parker                                            Andrew Robert

DS Grant                                              Darren Young

Ray Kissel                                            Stephen Hall

Roly                                                     Greg Johnson

Anna                                                    Laura Hutton

Jamie                                                  Ethan Renata                           

Luke                                                    Julius Barrington

Army Base Barman                             Mike Oldershaw

Ophir Pub Barman                              Ben Brown

Queenstown Receptionist                   Ascia Maybury

UK News Editor                                   Raymond Trickitt

Major Sowden                                     Paul Norell

Major Leonard                                     Peter Feeny

Reverend                                             Stephen Papps

Leo                                                      Ian Hughes

TV3 Newsreader                                  Alistair Wilkinson

Overseas Newsreader                          Alison Hofer

Hague Reporter                                   Jacque Drew

Clare                                                    Irene Drake

Airport Policeman                                Mark Harlen

Taxi Driver                                           Edith Thompson

Queenstown Policewoman                  Brooke Petersen

Prison Warden                                     Patrick Kuhtze

Serb Sergeant                                     Jarrod Martin

Soldier #1                                            Nicholas Kovacevich

Soldier #2                                            Cameron Smith

Serbian Soldier                                   Rob Kennedy

Serbian Soldier                                   Paul Martin

Serbian Soldier                                   Roberto Lucas Mendes

Serbian Soldier                                   Raoul Cotter

Serbian Soldier                                   Aleksandar Ristov

Serbian Soldier                                   David Azoulay

Serbian Soldier                                   Aleksandar Janev

Serbian Soldier                                   Wayne Gordon

Serbian Soldier                                   Michael Box

Serbian Little Boy                               Avdo Mandal

Serbian Little Girl                                Aida Ibrahimbegov

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