Family & Companions
This handsome, compact actor of Maori descent garnered international attention for his portrayal as the abusive and alcoholic Jake in Lee Tamahori's "Once Were Warriors" (1994). The son of a musician and nephew of famed New Zealand entertainer Sir Howard Morrison, he was raised in Rotarua, a noted tourist spot in his homeland. After completing his schooling, Morrison briefly worked with his uncle before deciding to pursue an acting career. Through the Special Performing Arts Training Scheme (SPATS), he gained experience which led to his early feature work in "Other Halves" (1985), in which he was the friend of a Maori teenager romancing an older white woman. Other roles soon followed in the stunningly photographed "Mauri" (1988) and as a laid-back reporter in the James Bond spoof "Never Say Die" (also 1988).
Morrison served as a language advisor on Jane Campion's acclaimed "The Piano" (1993) before landing his star-making role in "Once Were Warriors." He had been appearing in a heartthrob role on a New Zealand TV series when he auditioned for the role of Jake. Once cast, he undertook an intensive physical program to increase his body weight and bulk. Delivering a powerhouse portrayal of an irresponsible, fiery brute, the actor also endowed the character with charm and sexuality. There was a palpable heat between Morrison and his co-star Rena Owen who played his put-upon wife Beth, making their relationship believable despite his character's abuse.
Based on the international success of "Warriors," Morrison made the leap to Hollywood films, but the roles were substandard and the films were box-office flops. He was virtually wasted as Pamela Lee's love interest in the execrable "Barb Wire" (1996) and fared no better (although was unrecognizable) as one of the half-human, half-beast servants to Marlon Brando in the ill-advised remake of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (also 1996). Just when it appeared Morrison's US career might be doomed, he landed a major supporting role as an officer on a hijacked luxury liner in Jan De Bont's highly anticipated sequel "Speed 2: Cruise Control" (1997). Despite a strong first weekend, however, the film was generally perceived as an underperformer.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Early screen credit, small role in "Other Halves"
First feature lead, "Never Say Die"
Served as language advisor on Jane Campion's "The Piano"
Breakthrough screen role as the abusive husband Jake Heke in Lee Tamahori's "Once Were Warriors"
First US film, "Barbed Wire"
Had pivotal role in "Speed II: Cruise Control"
Reprised role of Jake Heke in the sequel "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?"
Cast as Jango Fett in "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones"
Portrayed Commander Cody in "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" the final installment of the saga