When I was writing the novel The Insatiable Moon (published in 1997), I thought to myself that there was only one person who could play the part of Norm – the alcoholic who sleeps rough and has befriended Arthur. That person was Ian Mune, legend of New Zealand cinema. So it was an astonishing thing a dozen years later to be auditioning him for the role. We gave him the part on the spot – he’s that good. And at the time I remarked to him that the part was written for him, he responded that he wasn’t quite sure how to take that – being typecast as a drunken derelict!
Ian is a patriarchal figure in the local film industry, where he has helped to define the craft over many years as a director, actor and writer. He was writer/director of Came a Hot Friday, The End of the Golden Weather, and director of What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? His acting credits include Sleeping Dogs, Once Were Warriors, The Lord of the Rings, and Perfect Creature. It’s not surprising that he has earned huge respect among filmmakers and actors alike. He has a reputation for not suffering fools lightly, so we were all stepping lightly around him in the early days of the shoot. But Ian, perhaps recognising that this was a hard-won independent film, pitched in from the beginning and became a welcome presence on set. He struck up friendships with both the experienced people and the newcomers, never standing on ceremony or pulling rank. Ian has a great sense of humour and a keen interest in photography, which he shared with others in the crew.
His acting, of course, was superb. If ever someone was born for a role – Ian became Norm. We gave him the nickname of ‘scene-stealer’, because in his own quiet way he produced performances which were standouts. Many people who have seen the rough cut of the film have remarked on the strength of his characterisation. Ian also brought to the set a presence, lending the film a sense of ‘mana’ (Maori word roughly meaning honour, respect, strength of character) which gave us a sense of being legitimately included in the long history of cinema in New Zealand.
During the shoot, Muney (as he is affectionately known) had this to say:
A nation thinking its own thoughts and being true to its own characters will produce not only its own language but its own forms. With The Insatiable Moon I’m watching yet another NZ film being made by producers on their own without significant support. The Insatiable Moon is really very interesting and exciting, and it’s a pleasure to be on the set. I have a similar feeling on this script to that which I had when looking at Once Were Warriors before it came out.
We will always be grateful for having someone of Ian’s experience and ability as part of our production.