5.3.3 Sarah Peirse

[Mir,aa,sb,MDB] Sarah Peirse (Honora Rieper), an award-winning New Zealand actress, has a broad range of experience both as an actress and as a director. She was the winner of the Best Actress Award in 1983 for her work in the period television drama "A Woman of Good Character," and Best Supporting Actress in 1988 for her performance in the motion picture "The Navigator." She has also appeared in the television series "The Champion." Peirse has also performed extensively with the Melbourne Theater Company, appearing in lead roles in "Three Sisters," "Cabaret," "The Secret Rapture," "South Pacific," "A Streetcar Named Desire," and "The Rose Tattoo."

She attended The Drama School and spent many years at both Theater Corporate and the Mercury Theater, where she became Associate Director. Peirse has also directed at the Adelaide State Theater. She currently lives in Australia.

Sarah Peirse also acted as drama coach for Melanie Lynskey.

For Jackson, there was only one choice for the part of Pauline's mother, Honora Parker. Jackson had fallen in love with Sarah Peirse's acting when she starred in the New Zealand period drama, "A Woman of Good Character." "I regard Sarah's performance in "Heavenly Creatures" as a real triumph--the strength of her performance turns the story into a true tragedy. It was very important to Sarah that she honor the memory of Pauline's mother, and I think that this is evident in her compassionate and intelligent reading of the character," states Jackson.

Filmography as Actress:
Sylvia (1985) [Vivian Wallop]
Mesmerized (1986) (aka Shocked (1986)) [Victoria's Mother]
Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, The (1987) [Linnet] (aka Navigator, The (1987))
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Honora Parker]

5.3.4 Simon O'Connor

[Mir,aa] Simon O'Connor (Herbert Rieper) is a veteran New Zealand stage actor who has been performing for over twenty years. He has also appeared on many New Zealand television shows including "The Wreck of General Grant," "Goldie," "Close to Home," "Country GP," and "Jocko". His feature film credits include "Should I Be Good" and "Dangerous Orphans" prior to his work on "Heavenly Creatures".

Pauline's father, Herbert Rieper, did not prove so easy to find. Bert Rieper was sixteen years older than Honora, and a slightly built man with a kindly face and a jokey sense of humor. "A lot of the actors that auditioned were simply too tall, too humorless, or physically wrong for the part. I was looking for someone sympathetic who could bring a certain amount of dramatic depth to the role," comments Jackson. Two weeks before the start of production, Peter was starting to panic when Simon O'Connor walked into the studio. Within half an hour, Bert Rieper was cast.

5.3.5 Diana Kent

[Mir,aa] Diana Kent (Hilda Hulme) is a highly-respected English stage actress and came to "Heavenly Creatures" directly from a leading role in the award-winning production of "An Inspector Calls" at the Royal National Theater in London. Other stage roles include Heloise in "Abelard and Heloise," Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Madame de Sade in "Madame de Sade," and the Marquise in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses." She has also appeared in the British television programs "Palmer," "Poirot" and "Bergerac."

Jackson followed his instincts and cast Diana as Juliet's mother, Hilda Hulme. Jackson comments, "I knew as soon as I met Diana that she was right to play Hilda. I was looking for someone who could play the sub-text of the disintegrating Hulme marriage whilst maintaining the public facade of the happy wife and mother."

Accepting the part of Hilda was a tough decision for Diana. She had just completed the first run of "An Inspector Calls" at the National which had been an amazing success. She had close ties with the production, having helped to develop it, and the director was very keen that she extend her contract. The quality of the script was what eventually decided her; it was one of the best written screenplays she had read.

Diana loved New Zealand and found the cast and crew some of the friendlest people she has worked with. She felt great sympathy for Hilda, a woman who had knowingly agreed to a loveless marriage and then found herself trapped in it; and tried to bring out some of her more positive qualities.

Since the film, Diana has been mainly busy in television. She has made two drama series for the BBC, SEAFORTH and THE VET and, most recently, appeared in a satirical pre-election comedy called CROSSING THE FLOOR as the alcoholic wife of a Tory M.P. By coincidence last year (1996) she found herself in Tunisia appearing in A KID IN THE ARABIAN NIGHTS; a sequel to the film her "daughter" made earlier. It should be released soon.

Filmography as Actress:
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Hilda Hulme]

5.3.6 Clive Merrison

[Mir,aa,MDB] Clive Merrison (Professor Henry Hulme), has an extensive background in British theater and was a member of Lawrence Olivier's National Theater of Great Britain. He is currently an associate artist with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford- upon-Avon.

Merrison has appeared in Clint Eastwood's "Firefox," John Huston's "Victory," and numerous television productions including the Emmy-nominated HBO movie "Stalin," "Miss Marple," "Reilly: Ace of Spies," "The Glittering Prizes," "A Very British Coup," "Bergerac," "Dr Who," "Chancer," "Shine on Harvey Moon" and "The Kit Curran Show."

When Clive Merrison, fresh from playing Sherlock Holmes in a West End production, came in to audition for the role of Henry Hulme, Jackson nearly fell off his chair. In every aspect except his height, Clive could pass for Henry's double. During a scene in the film Jackson placed Merrison next to a portrait of the real Henry Hulme, and the two men all but looked identical. "It was very weird. I asked Clive if he wore glasses. He pulled out a pair of round spectacles and put them on, and the transformation of Clive into Henry was complete," says Jackson.

Filmography as Actor:
Firefox (1982) [Major Lanyev]
Sign of Four, The (1983) (TV)
Pocketful of Rye, A (1984) [Percival Fortescue]
Stalin (1992) (TV) [Molotov]
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Henry Hulme]
Awfully Big Adventure, An (1995) [Desmond Fairchild]

5.3.7 Peter Elliott

[MDB][aa] Filmography as Actor:
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Bill Perry]
Neil Lynn
Hang on a Minute Mate
Dirty Dave (Short Film)

Peter has also appeared in a number of NZ Television films and series including:
Homeward Bound
Shortland Street (1996-present) [Dr David Kearney]
Ray Bradbury Theatre
Great Escapes (Presenter / VO)
McPhail and Gadsby

...as well as various television commercials.

5.3.8 Other Cast


Brophy, Jed

Braindead (1992) (aka Dead Alive (1992)) [Void]
Chunuk Bair (1992) [Pvt. Fred South]
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [John/Nicholas]

Goldie, Gilbert

Jack Be Nimble (1993) [Mr. Birch]
Hercules and the Lost Kingdom (1994) (TV) [Nevus]
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Doctor Bennett]

Henwood, Ray

Hot Target (1985) [Douglas Maxwell]
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Professor]

Moody, Elizabeth

Braindead (1992) (aka Dead Alive (1992)) [Mum (Vera Cosgrove)]
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Miss Waller]

Thomson, Barry

Head Office (1986) [Security Guard]
Heavenly Creatures (1994) [Farmer/Policeman]
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