- Publish Date
- Thursday, 17 May 2018, 2:23PM
When Julian Dennison arrives for our interview he's flanked by a team of movie studio minders, a Hollywood publicist, who has flown in from Los Angeles to supervise, and a personal bodyguard.
It's a powerful visualisation of just how big a deal the 15-year-old kid from Lower Hutt has become. He has an entourage and New Zealand doesn't really do entourages.
But if you think this has affected Dennison in any way then think again. He's every bit as cool as you suspect. Completely down to earth, he jokes around, laughs heaps and is unfailingly polite.
Upon arrival, he shakes off the minders, introduces himself to every person on TimeOut's video team, double checks everyone's names and then launches into a story about how he got sick the night before from the dumplings at his hotel. A few minutes later one of his team walks over and asks if he wants dumplings for lunch. Grinning, he says yes.
After our interview, he picks my digital recorder up off the floor where it's sitting beside his chair and hands it back to me. It's the first time a Hollywood star has ever done this.
Because, yes. Dennison is now a Hollywood star. But you don't have to take my word for it. Instead take the words of his Deadpool 2 co-star, Ryan Reynolds!
"I fell in love with him from Hunt for the Wilderpeople," Reynolds says. "We didn't read anyone else and we didn't see anyone else. It was Julian right from the get-go."
In the movie, Dennison stars as Russell Collins, a young superhero who goes by the alter ego Firefist.
"Julian is such a gifted actor," Reynolds says. "What he brings to the table, I mean, raw, unfiltered innocence. And a really oddly complex sense of humour, Julian is a sniper. He's a special kid."
Julian said: "It was really cool because they took the time to look into the haka, especially Ka Mate, the one that the All Blacks do," he grins. "They really wanted to inspire it from that. The haka is this war dance that's supposed to bring rage and energy and mana and power. So it was really cool that they based it off that. Being a Māori actor on the global stage, it was really cool representing it."
The other thing he was stoked about was "being able to keep my accent" and while New Zealand gets a shout-out in the film it's never explained why this Māori kid is such a long, long way from home.
"Oh yeah, eh!," he grins "Could be a solo film? Maybe an origin story... Nah, it was really cool because Ryan has actually been to New Zealand before. He told me that he's been to New Zealand once before and he was like at university or high school and he came to play rugby. And he got smashed."
Then laughing loudly he says, "I think he found acting after that."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.