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From schoolboy Oz to Hollywood Star Trek


Less than twenty years ago, Karl Urban (above, left) was at Wellington College, starring in the Senior Drama Club’s production of The Wizard of Oz. Now his Hollywood role in Star Trek is on worldwide release.

During its one-week-only run on Wellington’s biggest screen at the Embassy, Film Festival size crowds were attracted to the retro space spectacle, no doubt encouraged by the chance to see a local boy doing so well. (He’s one of the heroes. The villain is played by an Australian.)

The Embassy didn’t seem to be prepared for the crowds. At starting time, the audience was kept waiting in the foyer, while the auditorium was cleaned. The film started 15 minutes later than advertised. But no one minded, and on the Embassy’s huge Cinemascope screen, with its state of the art sound, there wasn’t a dull moment. (It’s a movie with a lot of plot.)

Karl Urban (whose NZ movies include Via Satellite, The Price of Milk , The Irrefutable Truth About Demons, and Out of the Blue as well as the second and third Lord of the Rings epics), gave one of the more layered performances. He’s come a long way since the 1990 Wizard of Oz, where the school magazine reported “Karl cackled and screeched his way to the melting pot as the Wicked Witch of the West with great energy.”

The school show had four matinees and three evening performances. For its week at the Embassy, Star Trek was playing five times a day, every day. It’s now on two screens at Readings, nine times a day. And Karl’s international career (he’s been in movies with Matt Damon and Vin Diesel) continues, with three new features on his schedule.

In the 1990 school photo with Karl Urban (left) are Simon Delahunt, Simon Jobson, John Palmer