Mr Henderson presents   20 Jun 2006

Kaye Holland is seduced by the charms of hot home grown-talent Martin Henderson.

Kiwi actor Martin Henderson breaks the first rule of diva – he rings (as arranged) at midday on the dot. He’s calling to discuss his latest project – Fool for Love – arguably his "career highlight to date".

Sam Shepard’s 1983 award-winning play is an intense but sharply humourous verbal sparring match that takes place in a seedy motel room on the edge of the Mojave desert between two on-again, off-again lovers who debate love, hate and the dying myths of the Old West. That’s not all, to complicate things the star-crossed Eddie and May are related by blood, their old man fathered them both by different mothers.

Despite being thoroughly worn out – "as an actor, the play is a great thing to do but it’s absolutely relentless and physically and emotionally exhausting" – the man on the other end of the receiver is affable, animated and articulated. He’s cocky but not arrogant – I like him immediately.

Thirty-one-year-old Henderson has been making big strides in a (relatively) short space of time. The native New Zealander became an accomplished actor in his teens playing Stuart Neilson in hospital soap Shortland Street before popping up as Geoff Thomas in Home and Away. Then – like Aussie soap stars Russell Gladiator Crowe, Guy Pearce et al, he packed his bags and headed for Hollywood. He hasn’t looked back since.

Henderson claims not to read reviews: "I try not to read them because I feel it’s all kind of relative. I’ve had things written about me that are so glowing, that I’m so great. Then I’ve had things written about me that are really horrible and I think the truth lies in the middle.

So there’s not too much point in getting attached to either opinion."

For the record Henderson delivers a ravishing award- worthy performance in Fool for Love that has had the critics salivating. The Independent went into raptures about the "strong and exciting impression" Henderson makes as Eddie while London’s Evening Standard hailed his West End debut as "remarkable". It says something that Henderson can elicit this sort of response from the notoriously savage London hacks. Clearly he has the looks – lets face it, the bloke is effortlessly gorgeous – and the talent. He doesn’t so much as tick the right boxes as jump out of them.

Having worked in TV, film and theatre, I’m curious as to what Henderson’s favourite medium is.

"I love to explore the various facets of myself so I still enjoy playing different sorts of roles in different mediums."

But when pushed he concedes that "theatre is probably my preference – it helps hone your craft. There is an immediate connection with the audience which reminds me why I am an actor."

One string he won’t be adding to his already overloaded bow is a music career.

"I am a terrible singer," he says.

"I get very enthusiastic and can’t concentrate on the notes!"

So he won’t be doing a Delta or a Kylie then?

"I fantasised about that as a kid, but while the desire is there the ability isn’t. I’ll leave the singing career to Juliette Lewis [Fool for Love co-star]."

Lewis, who has starred in films such as Kalifornia and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and is a former flame of Brad Pitt, is currently in a band called Juliette and the Licks. "I have such jealousy of Juliette’s band career. To me that would be the greatest way to burn off nervous energy – to just get out there and rock," Henderson says. Lewis is merely the latest in a long line of stunning actresses Henderson has worked with to date.

He hesitates when asked to name his favourite female co-star. I guess the trick is choosing from a list that reads like a who’s who of hot young Hollywood talent. After an early brush with Wedding Crashers’ Isla Fisher on the set of Home and Away, Henderson went on to appear opposite India’s sexiest star (and former Miss World) Aishwarya Rai in Bride and Prejudice, lock lips with Britney Spears in the video for her chart- topping single Toxic and share the silver screen with fellow Antipodeans Naomi Watts (The Ring) and Cate Blanchett (Little Fish). Not bad for a boy from Auckland.

Following a considerable pause he plumps for Blanchett.

"Her attitude was easy, she just made everything really enjoyable. Cate doesn’t take herself too seriously."

It’s an approach that Henderson has tried to emulate.

"I try to have fun with what I’m doing and not get too bogged down. My theory is if I’m enjoying myself, the audience will too."

After an awful introduction to London – "I first came to visit 10 friends who were crammed into a flat in Acton. That put me right off London I can tell you!" – it transpires that the charms of the English capital have crept up on him.

"I am really happy to be here right now and at this time of year. I’ve been enjoying London’s gardens, which are a good substitute for New Zealand’s beaches." What other advice does he have for newly arrived New Zealanders?

"London is all about culture. So definitely check out Fool for Love! And the galleries, which are world renowned. For great coffee go to the New Zealand coffee shop Flat White in Berwick Street. It’s awesome."

But despite a new-found love of London, Henderson still hankers for his homeland.

"There are a lot of things I miss. The beaches, the natural beauty, the people and their attitude to life. Everywhere else, everything happens so fast, no one has time for anything – but New Zealand has a slower rhythm."

When his stint in the West End comes to an end, he plans to fly home and visit his new nephew and would like to spend some time catching up with family and friends. Not – if his performance as Eddie is anything to go by – that this will be an option. In terms of Hollywood currency he is rising fast – proven by the air miles he must have accumulated during the past few years – and this time believe the hype. Our man Martin might just be the real deal…

• Fool for Love is on at the Apollo Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue, London, W1D 6AB until September 9. For more information call 0870 890 1101.

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share


Biosecurity New Zealand launched

30 Apr 2018 Environment By Hon Damien O'Connor
  30 April 2018 Minister for Biosecurity Damien O’Connor launched Biosecurity New Zealand at the Zealandia... more

Opinion: Auckland Regional fuel tax vote a victory for progress

30 Apr 2018 News By Hon Phil Tywford
30 April 2018 Auckland Council is to be congratulated for this afternoon voting 15-2 in favour of the regional fuel tax, Transport... more


Minister hails new Secure Exports Scheme partner

30 Apr 2018 Business News By Hon Meka Whaitiri
30 April 2018 Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri today welcomed the signing of a partnership between New Zealand Customs and dairy... more

RBNZ Governor supports macro-prudential policy

16 Mar 2018 Business News
Macro-prudential policy has been particularly useful in the current environment of globally low interest rates, where monetary policy... more


NZ rockers "I Am Giant" in Europe for album release tour - London shows 16 & 17 August

4 Aug 2018 Entertainment
'Theres two things you need to know about I Am Giant.. one.. they're awesome. and two.. they're awesome' Daniel P Carter - Radio 1... more

Two Worlds: Modern Maori Quartet delights London before heading up to Edinburgh

1 Aug 2018 Entertainment By Charlotte Everett
Fresh off the boat from Aotearoa, Modern Maori Quartet were back in London to treat us to an awesome Sunday afternoon of entertainment... more


No new solutions in housing report

12 Feb 2018 Property By Michael Woodhouse
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2018   The Government's housing stocktake report released today adds no new knowledge or... more

Stocktake finds housing crisis deeper, more entrenched

12 Feb 2018 Property
12 FEBRUARY 2018 An independent stocktake of New Zealand’s housing sector has found the housing crisis the country faces is deeper... more


Community organisations chosen to sponsor refugees in New ZealandI

26 Jan 2018 Migration By Hon Iain Lees-Galloway
26 JANUARY 2018 Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has today announced the four community-based organisations who will be the... more

Building occupations added to skill shortage list

14 Dec 2017 Migration By Iain Lees-Galloway
15 DECEMBER 2017 It will be easier for the building industry to find the workers it needs to help address New Zealand’s housing... more


International visitors spend $10.6bn in year to December

22 Feb 2018 Travel & Tourism
International visitor spending reached a record high of $10.6 billion in the year to December 2017, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis... more

NZ Election 2017: Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation

28 Aug 2017 Travel & Tourism
Tourism fund for infrastructure and conservation Posted by Kris Faafoi on August 28, 2017 Labour will estaba Tourism and... more


French win over England timely for All Blacks

13 Mar 2018 Rugby By Lynn McConnell
  12 March 2018 France's upset victory over England in the Six Nations at the weekend was the perfect result for the All... more

Winter Olympics: NZ Triples Medal Count in Single Day

22 Feb 2018 Sport
New Zealand has tripled its Olympic Winter Games medal count in a single stunning afternoon at PyeongChang 2018. Zoi... more


Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf The ghastly likes of Marine Le Pen in France and Geert ... more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome Well um.. on the bright side, there (probably)... more

Kiwi Success

New Auckland DHB chairs announced

30 Apr 2018 Appointments
30 April 2018 Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced new chairs to lead Auckland’s three District Health Boards. The... more

Law Commissioner appointed

29 May 2017 Appointments
29 May 2017 Former Secretary for Justice Belinda Clark has been appointed as Law Commissioner, Justice Minister Amy Adams announced... more


Auckland employment hubs benefit over 500 young job seekers

8 Mar 2018 Recruitment By Hon Willie Jackson
8 MARCH 2018 Minister of Employment Willie Jackson today visited the Auckland CBD Jobs and Skills Hub and the Southern Initiative in... more

Fastest growing jobs - NZ recruitment

21 Dec 2017 Recruitment
New Zealand’s increasing need for social services has seen jobs in the Community Services & Development industry among the... more