We've come a long way
28 Nov 2018
Mercedes Ackerman catches up with one of New Zealand's leading character actors.
We've come a long way in New Zealand television over the last decade. That was evident in the plethora of talent gracing the red carpet at the Huawei Mate20 New Zealand Television Awards. One of the unsung heroes of the Awards is a man who only experienced seven months of the 1980s. Jordan Mooney has been able to fashion an impressive career out of one of the most loved and colourful decades of the modern era.
Mooney was nominated for Best Actor at the NZTV Awards for his portrayal of music icon Jordan Luck in The Dance Exponents - Why Does Love? (picking up Images & Sound Best Feature Drama and a host of other awards*) He is best known for his role as Eric in Westside which won the NZ On Air Best Drama Series. It seems everything Mooney touches turns to gold.
Playing someone as well known as Jordan Luck could be seen as daunting. Given he’s performed at virtually every club and pub in the country, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t had the Jordan Luck experience live. To borrow a line from a soft drink commercial, he's “World famous in New Zealand.” Mooney recalls that "there was a pressure at first, but I made sure that immediately I let go of that. Otherwise, the pressure would have crumbled the performance. I had to have a sense of making it my own otherwise it wouldn't have worked."
The chemistry between the two Jordans was evident standing in front of them both. They felt more like old friends than actor and subject. Recalling meeting in a pub to work together. Mooney speaks fondly of Luck who he still catches up with."We were always side-by-side the whole process.”
His portrayal of the vocalist behind Why Does Love Do This To Me? and Who Loves Who The Most? was so on point in the eyes of the original Jordan. “His (Mooney’s) research was impeccable, he nailed it".
From the Mad Hatter to Dodgy Eric
A regular on the Auckland theatre scene since 2009 but originally from Hamilton, Mooney has had a quirky career with stage roles from Robin Hood to the Mad Hatter. That trend has continued onto screens in Three's wildly popular Westside as the often seedy, sometimes lovable and always dodgy Eric Grady.
James Griffin, one of the writers behind Outrageous Fortune and its prequel Westside says the success of the shows has always hinged on character actors like Mooney. "The core group of the West family only exists because they have associates.
"We've always tried to make characters like Eric, Sparky and Falani interesting enough that you could spin off a series about them."
But Mooney is not just an 80s renaissance man. He co-founded a web series with fellow Westside actor Reef Ireland (Wolfgang West) called The Spoon, an intimate interview show which has seen the likes of Antonia Prebble, Chlöe Swarbrick and Stan Walker be spooned. “It’s one of those ideas that feels complete.” Mooney harbours ambitions for it to become New Zealand’s version of Carpool Karaoke: "I'm going to spoon celebrities, and we're going to talk about stuff." Mooney says it’ll always be up to the interviewee who the big spoon is…
Mooney revealed to The Big Idea who his top three spooning subjects would be, and they are a typically eclectic trio: "Daniel Day-Lewis, Prince Harry and Donald Trump". We’ll be watching.
When asked for his advice for budding performers, Mooney gives the perhaps most honest answer yet: "Give it up now and don't water down my pool, “ he laughs.
*The Dance Exponents - Why Does Love? also won: Best Script: Drama, Best Costume Design and Best Cinematographer: Drama.
Image credits, top to bottom:
Jordan Mooney, Stan Walker and Reef Ireland for The Spoon
Jordan Luck and Jordan Mooney. Photo by Mercedes Ackerman
Jordan Mooney as Eric. Photo courtesy of Westside, South Pacific Pictures
Jordan Mooney and Reef Ireland spooning. Photo courtesy of The Spoon