Playing Sir Edmund Hillary in a mini-series would be a big deal for any New Zealand actor. But for Andrew Munro
— whose handful of screen credits include "Film School Tutor" in the movie My Wedding & Other Secrets and "Guard Arthur" in the tele-feature Field Punishment No. 1 — it's a really big deal. It's his first lead. It's his big break.
And it's a long way from his days playing in Dunedin punk band The Yams, working as a chef in Parliament, and doing odd jobs in the TV and film industry, before moving to Auckland in 2005 to give acting a real crack. Now it's paid off.
Hillary's story has been told before — in books, a documentary, a feature film — but never a drama series. Funded with nearly $6.5 million from NZ On Air's Platinum Fund, the Great Southern Television production was filmed largely in Auckland, the Southern Alps and Nepal between January and April last year. The series' creator, writer and executive producer, Tom Scott, based Hillary on his biography of his friend — and on hundreds of hours of interviews about Hillary's most public and private moments.
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Hillary, a six-part mini-series, premieres on Sunday, August 21, 8.30pm, on TV One.