Kevin Smith

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Actor Kevin Smith dies after fall in China
16.02.2002

Leading New Zealand actor Kevin Smith has died in a Beijing hospital after he was critically injured in a fall.  His agent, Robert Bruce, confirmed that the 38-year-old actor had died.  "I received a call from Kevin's family to say that he passed away in his sleep.  "It's a shock to us all, and a major shock to the family. They're just trying to come to terms with it all."  Mr Bruce could provide no further details. Auckland-based Smith was injured in the Chinese capital 10 days ago and doctors treating him were concerned that he would not recover from serious injuries.  The accident occurred on February 6, the day after the actor finished work on a joint US-Chinese production, and as he was preparing to return to NZ. The hunky local star was then to have headed to movie "boot camp" to prepare for what many believed would be his big break, a role in a Hollywood blockbuster starring Bruce Willis.  The doctor treating Smith told the Herald last night that staff from China's top movie production house, Beijing Film Studio, rushed him to the Beijing Union Hospital after the fall. Smith was believed to have been on a life-support machine before his death.  The doctor, who did not wish to be named, said Smith had suffered a severe injury to his skull and had been in a critical condition.  Acting sources have said he was injured when he fell from a great height, possibly six stories. Li Hao, a spokeswoman for one of the companies involved in Warriors of Virtue II, said Smith, who had completed his film contract the day before the fall, had made a big impression.

Smith's wife, Suzanne, and his parents, Geoff and Yvonne, are understood to have been with him. In addition to his wife, Mr Smith leaves his three children, Oscar, 11, Tyrone, 9, and Willard, 3. Mr Bruce said last night that the actor's family wanted to thank everyone who had sent messages of love and support.

Smith starred in many New Zealand stage, television and feature films and is perhaps best known for his role as Ares in Xena: Warrior Princess.

His ambitions to break into the American movie market were realised when he scored a role in the $US70 million ($166 million) Bruce Willis action film Man of War, due to start filming in Hawaii next month.

He had leaped at the chance to go to China because the role allowed him to learn from the stuntman who worked on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Smith, Auckland-born but Timaru-raised, got into acting when his wife and childhood sweetheart saw a casting call while he was sidelined by concussion during the rugby season.  He was soon a leading man, happy to laugh at his beefcake image.  "A nicer guy you wouldn't find anywhere," said friend and Comedian Mike King.

Story from the New Zealand Herald.

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Kevin Smith Photo Gallery

You can only understand how much it pained me to hear that Kevin Smith had died unless you at least liked Xena Kevin Smith the actor, made us both hate and love Ares!  My brother passed this on to me from one of the newsgroups -- the Hercules board.

23.02.2002 - Actor/director MICHAEL HURST remembers a colleague and a chum.

I was in Pasadena attending a Xena Convention when I received the news that my friend and colleague Kevin Smith had passed away.

In the subsequently surreal environment of the Ritz Hotel, waiting for my turn to go and address the fans, I was struck by waves of grief and disbelief. He was such a constant force in lives of all of us who worked with him and who were his friends.

Kevin was loved. He threw himself into everything he did with extraordinary vigour and reaped the rewards of affection and respect.

His life was a "larger than life" kind of life. Of all the actors in Hercules and Xena, he was the only one who resembled his action figure.

He was one of the funniest men I ever met, and one of the wittiest. Kevin was clever. Boy, he was clever. He was generous and possessed of great humility. He was one of us, a good man, a bloke, a mate.

I worked with Kevin many times in different ways - directing him, acting with him, singing or debating with him - and I know in my heart that we had only just begun to see the depth of his talent. He was poised to fly, and fly he would have.

This is the hardest thing, the fact that we want more of him. We want the fulfilment of all that promise but must be content with only the idea.

He was a family man, a sporting man, a playful man and a thinking man. His smile was, and will always be, a beacon in the dark because I think he knew instinctively that heart was the first thing and that everything else followed.

I, like many others, will carry his memory with me undimmed, and it will give me both joy and sadness for the rest of my life.

We have lost a favourite son.

Safe journey, Kevin. We love you.