Jul 03

Lani Tupu


NAME: Lani Tupu

A.K.A: Lani John Tupu Jr.



EDUCATION: Awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Bursary to enter New Zealand Drama School


KNOWN FOR: Actor and Founding member of the Walkers and Talkers Australian theater group.




  • 1977 – Lani was awarded a Queen Elizabeth ll Arts Council  bursary to study at NZ Drama School; becoming the first Samoan to graduate from the school.
  • In Australia he changed the spelling of his name from ‘Larney’ to ‘Lani’ after various cast members mistook him as being of Irish descent
  • 1995 – He returned to New Zealand as director on a pioneering series dedicated to Samoan culture in Aotearoa. ‘Tala Pasifika’ consisted of eight short films which showcased Samoan talent. Written by Samoan Lisa Taouma, Talk of the Town (Tala o le Taulaga) marked Tupu’s debut as a screen director. The episode followed the life of a fa’afafine who is now a cabaret performer.
  • 1999 – Lani won two roles and an international fan following thanks to science fiction series Farscape. Shot in Australia with a largely Australasian cast;  Farscape ran for four seasons followed by a wrap-up mini-series. Lani initially auditioned to play alien warrior ‘D’Argo’, but saved a lot of time in make-up by winning the part of goatee-villain, Captain Crais instead.
  • His Australian-based acting roles range from a “wonderful cameo” in multi award-winner Lantana, to Dolph Lundgren action vehicle The Punisher (as a Mafia chief), TV’s Police Rescue, and tele-movie Heart of Fire, based on heroic Kiwi firefighter Royd Kennedy, and a feature role as ‘Boss Man’ in Rolf de Heer (Bad Boy Bubby) feature, The King is Dead.
  • He is one of the founding members of theatre group, Walkers and Talkers, alongside fellow ex-pat Kiwis Gary Stalker, Mary Regan, and his Marlin Bay screen wife May Lloyd.
  • Set up his Screen Actors Studio in the late 1990s and has taught acting on both sides of the Tasman – including at NIDA and Toi Whakaari. He also does regular voice-overs for Australian network SBS, and paints. Some of his artwork chronicles his travels as an actor.
  • 1993 – Won several awards from the New Zealand Film and TV Awards for Best Dramatic Performance and a Best Actor award for Talk of the Town (which he also directed at the Dream Maker Festival in Ontario, Canada)
  • 1986 – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Send a Gorilla at the Listener Film and Television Award
  • 1985 – Nominated for Best Actor for Send a Gorilla at the Listener Film and Television Award
  • 1984 – Best New Talent: for Country GP at the Feltex Awards






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