Nathaniel Lees

Nathaniel Lees


New Zealand

Birth Name

Nathaniel Lees



Also Known As

Nat Lees
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Nathaniel Lees is a New Zealand born actor of Samoan heritage. He is perhaps best known outside of New Zealand for his roles as Captain Mifune in The Matrix trilogy and as "Ugluk" in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. He has also played a number…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 2008, Nathaniel starred in the short film Journey to Ipiha.

    • (2003) The Songmaker's Chair "Peseola" Auckland Theatre Company, Dir Nathaniel Lees
      The Island "Winstan" Turning Tide
      Foreskins Lament Mercury Theatre
      Bloodknot "Samuel" Mercury Theatre, Dir Raymond Hawthorne
      Think of a Garden "Nat Lees" Taki Rua Productions, Dir Nat Lees
      Woza Albert "Percy Mtura" Turning Tide
      Threepenny Opera "Peachum" Inside Out Theatre
      Othello "Othello" Mercury Theatre, Dir Mervyn Thompson
      I'm not Rappaport "Mitch" Mercury Theatre
      Equus "Martin Dysart"
      The Changeling "De Flores" Watershed Theatre, Dir Simon Bennett
      Forbidden Memories "Elijah"
      Spectacle of One "Doctor Copeland" Inside Out Theatre, Dir Michael Mizrahi
      Macbeth "Banquo"
      Titus Andronicus "Aaron"

    • Nathaniel has experience in many different aspects of theatre and tv, including acting, directing, writing, light design, production design, and producing.

    • While Nathaniel has had a number of roles in blockbusters, he says that if he had a choice he would always prefer to work on local New Zealand projects or projects which had a strong local flavor.

    • In 2007, Nathaniel won the $6000 Creative New Zealand Senior Pacific Islands Artist Award at the Arts Pasifika Awards.

    • Nathaniel is one of fifteen New Zealand actors suing New Line Cinema for royalties on merchandise from The Lord of the Rings movies.

    • Nathaniel does Yoga.

    • Nathaniel is a registered drama teacher in New Zealand, and he periodically teaches directing at Toi Whakaari Drama School in Wellington. One of his classes, Improv, was attended by another well known Kiwi actor, Joel Tobeck.

    • Nathaniel plays the saxophone.

    • Nathan was offered a part in Star Wars when it was filming in New Zealand, but turned it down.

    • In February of 2007, Nathaniel became the first recipient of a three-month "Artist in Residence" partnership between Creative New Zealand and the National University of Samoa.

    • In 1986, Nathaniel was given the Te Wako Toi Award by the New Zealand Arts Council.

    • Nathaniel is 6'1" (185.5 cm), with dark brown hair and brown eyes.

    • 1997 was very successful professionally for Nathan. He won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for "Best Director", "Best Design", "Best Supporting Actor", and "Best Production of the Year". He was also nominated for "Best Actor" and "Best Lighting Design".

    • Nathaniel is represented as an actor by the firm Karen Kay Management. He is also listed with the Talking Heads agency as a voice actor.

  • Quotes

    • Nathaniel: I don't act so much any more on the stage. The problem is that the theatre I want to do is Samoan theatre, but so few people have the experience to direct. Much as I want to be on the stage I don't have a choice many times. There has to be a new generation and I'm working on it. I keep dropping the line and inviting people to come in and watch the rehearsal.

    • Nathaniel: (on being inspired by actor George Henare) That was the reason I kept on doing theatre- watching these guys do what they did, and doing it for a living. It surprised me, a full week's wage for doing that. I thought it was the best job in the world.

    • Nathaniel: I tell people an actor is the most selfish person in the world because everything they do is to learn about themselves.

    • Nathaniel: (on his experiences as a part of "The Matrix" trilogy) Working with the Wachowski brothers was an incredible and energising experience. As an actor and a director to work with people who have that kind of vision was extraordinary. To watch and see that energy gave all the cast huge motivation.

    • Nathaniel: Now I've seen how big budget films work, I'm not so interested in them any more.

    • Nathaniel: (on his three month residency with the National University of Samoa) To create what I want, I need to look, smell, hear, talk to people... all these things are my research. I want to meet people who live here and express themselves through dance, art, writing.

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