Feb 25

Nathaniel Lees



NAME: Nathaniel Lees



PLACE OF BIRTH: Auckland, New Zealand



KNOWN FOR: NZ Director, Producer, Actor and Senior Acting Tutor at Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School.




  • Nathaniel has been acting on-stage since 1975 and on-screen since 1984. A well respected actor, his most popular roles are Captain Mifune in ‘The Matrix trilogy’ and Uglúk in ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’. He is also very well known among NZ Pacific Islanders for his appearances in two highly successful New Zealand films: ‘No. 2 ‘and ‘Sione’s Wedding
  • 1975 – First paid acting job was at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre for a production of ‘The Naval Officer’. He was in his 20’s and had no theatre experience at the time
  • Directed his first Samoan play titled ‘Think of a Garden‘. At the 1995 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards in Wellington, ‘Think of a Garden’ won Production of the Year, Director of the Year, Taki Rua Production of the Year and the Female in a Supporting Role award went to Sima Urale, who played the role of Luisa
  • Has worked extensively with Oscar Kightley, playing a big hand in the development of Kightley’s breakthrough play ‘Fresh off the Boat’ (co-written with Simon Small); and fa’fafine tale ‘A Frigate Bird Sings’, which Nathaniel directed for the 1996 International Festival of the Arts
  • 1984 – Made his on-screen debut with small roles in Death Warmed Up and cross-cultural romance Other Halves. He was part of the comedy team on the ‘Billy T James show’ (memorably in the ‘Turangi Vice’ sketches), and television shows ‘Gloss’ and ‘Shark in the Park’
  • 1985 – Theatre Awards Wellington – Best Actor, Best Director, Best Production for ‘Think of a Garden’
  • 1986 – Te Wako Toi Award – New Zealand Arts Council
  • 1997 – Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for Best Director, Best Design, Best Supporting Actor, Best Production of the Year, Nominated Best Actor and Best Lighting Design
  • In 1994, he was one of many Maori and Pacific Island actors in big-budget movie ‘Rapa Nui’, which retold the Easter Island story for an international audience.
  • 2003 – Worked with Albert Wendt’s for the NZ play, ‘The Songmaker’s Chair, another double award-winner, and acclaimed Māori play
  • 2005 – A Cameo as a Church Minister in hit Pacific Island comedy, ‘Sione’s Wedding’
  • Acted in a period TV adventure – ‘The Lost Children
  • Starred in Nancy Brunning’s debut short – ‘Journey to Ihipa. He also cast the film and helped with producing for the movie – ‘The Orator: O Le Tulafale
  • 2008 – He is senior drama school tutor at Toi Whakaari and continues to take on acting roles







Source – NZ Onscreen,Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School

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