In the coming days and weeks ahead, actor Cliff Curtis will play two Maori men facing impossible odds. Chances are that you likely know one of them, the Maori-American English teacher Travis Manawa on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, who is dealing with the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse, as well as his fair share of marital discord. You’ll be able to see more of Travis on April 10 when Fear the Walking Dead returns for its second season. But first, Curtis will breathe life into another troubled Maori man. He’ll play the chess prodigy Genesis “Gen” Potini, who struggles with bipolar disorder in The Dark Horse, which opens in select theaters today.
Based on a true story, the film follows Genesis after his release from prison and chronicles his struggle to reintegrate himself into a society that seems to be crumbling around him. Rather than succumb to the crushing weight of the world, Genesis decides to help a local chess club made of underprivileged children to compete in a national tournament. It’s alternately heartwarming and heart-wrenching, thanks in large part to Curtis’ nuanced portrayal of a man who has trouble processing the realities of the world beyond the chess board. Also executive produced by Curtis, the film is yet another in a string of genuinely excellent films coming out of New Zealand in recent years, joining the ranks of Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Dark as required viewing.
Recently, while Curtis was in Los Angeles, he stopped by our studio where we caught up with the actor about what drew him to Potini’s story, what fans can expect from Fear the Walking Dead‘s second season, and more.
The Dark Horse is now playing in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles.
Images: Transmission Films/Broad Green Pictures