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Lawless comes to TVNZ Heartland

TVNZ Heartland

The award-winning television feature Lawless comes to TVNZ Heartland in July and August.

Kevin Smith plays John Lawless, an undercover cop leading double lives. In one world he has a beautiful wife a suburban house and a half-built boat.  But in the other world he drives a taxi, hangs out with low life characters and has a reputation for being the man who can get anything. 

In this interview from 1999, the late Kevin Smith talks about what was involved in playing a character like John Lawless:

For Smith the complex nature of his character drew him to the project.  But there also were parallels between John Lawless and Smith's role as a Vietnam veteran in the film "Channeling Baby."

"I did a lot of research into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when I was preparing for that film," he explains.  "And I found out that the highest group to suffer the disorder next to Vietnam veterans are undercover cops."

In preparation for his role in Lawless, Smith was advised by ex-undercover police on how his character would react in certain situations.  Smith explains:  "In order to get in with the underworld, you don't necessarily have to come across as staunch, but you need to get on with people and be more gregarious."

"Lawless is a guy who's gone in with a clear idea of who's good and who's bad, but the longer he lives in that world the more and more blurred the line becomes.  It gets to the stage where he has to betray his friends - and he's a guy who has a strong sense of loyalty to his friends."

It was this complexity that gave Smith the challenge he wanted.  "As an undercover cop, Lawless lives in two different worlds," he explains. 

"His two best friends are from conflicting worlds. There's Willie, who lives on the other side of the law, and Dave Bruford, his best mate from his cop days.  It meant I had to play his essential truth, but also be plausible in his deceit as well."

As such, Smith found similarities between himself and his character:  "It's where his two worlds collide that he can't reconcile. I empathised being an actor. I have my personal life and my private life.  In no way do I equal that with the stress an undercover cop is under, but it gave me somewhere to start.  In order to protect one side of your life, there has to be a certain level of performance in the other.  When you're faced with a new character, you always look for that initial 'in'. What I really noticed with Lawless, was his juggling act.  He's trying to keep every one happy."

The first Lawless feature screens Saturday 30th July at 11pm (repeat screening Saturday 6th August at 9am)

Click here for more info on Lawless.