16 February 2002 Media Statement
“Kevin Smith was a wonderful New Zealand actor who was known not only for his enormous talent and amazing beauty, but also for his intelligence and self-effacing humour,” Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard said today.
“I am sure that all New Zealanders will join the government in expressing our deep sorrow that this talented New Zealander has died in his prime as the result of an accident in China.
“Kevin Smith will probably be best remembered world-wide for his portrayal of Ares in Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but many New Zealanders will remember him for his talents in film, television, theatre, music and stand-up comedy.”
Kevin Smith’s acting career began in 1987 when, during a break from rugby, he was cast in a touring musical about Elvis Presley, Are You Lonesome Tonight?
“Kevin was an enormously popular actor. He had roles in many significant New Zealand films, including Desperate Remedies, Channelling Baby, Jubilee, and in television series such as Gloss, City Life, Lawless. On stage, Kevin had a commanding presence and last year starred in Auckland Theatre Company’s production of The Blue Room, which had an extended, sold-out season.
“Music was always a part of Kevin’s life. He recorded several albums in the 1980s with his band Say Yes to Apes, and was a lead singer in the covers band The Wide Lapels, which included several fellow actors. He has also proven his impressive improvisational comic skills with Theatresports and in a multitude of stand-up comedy performances.
“Kevin has played a huge part in New Zealand’s performing arts in the past forteen years. He will be greatly missed.
“He was a father, a husband, a friend of many. We extend our warmest sympathy and support to Kevin’s family, friends and colleagues at this time.”
Kevin Smith is survived by his wife, Suzanne, and their three sons.