Why Brokenwood Star Neill Rea ‘hates Ceramics and Ceramicists’!

Late in 2021, actor Neill Rea (Breaking Bad) and his longtime partner and fellow actor Alison Bruce (One Lane Bridge, The Power Of The Dog) returned to central Auckland from “out West.”

NEILL REA: We relocated here in November of last year after living in the West. We downsized because we’d become empty-nesters, yet we paid more for it. It’s a bungalow from the 1920s with a house number.

Not gardeners, but we’re adept at killing stuff. It’s encouraging to see Ali taking an interest in gardening. Is it possible that you’re going through a transitional period in your life? It’s at this point that you begin to think, “oh, sure, I enjoy the unusual flower.” That’s what we are, without a doubt.

I’ve planted a lot of native New Zealand shrubs in different locations. This area had olives and camellias in abundance when we arrived, so we’ll simply go with it. We think it’s great.

Unjamming a bunch of windows is the only thing we’ve done to [the house]. Possibly, we’ll do some tinkering. I’m interested in stuff like solar panels and making us more self-reliant in some way. Maybe fewer cosmetics and more functional items. We may add a tiny shelter on the back deck.

It evokes memories of our first home in Sandringham, albeit a much smaller one. I believe that we like to live in modest homes. It’s a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house that feels just right for us because it’s not fussy or glitzy.

To say we’re eclectic would be an understatement; our preferences run the gamut. We’ve developed a taste for Kiwiana.

Ali is an expert op-shopper, so we should expect to come away with a slew of deals. My husband and I also have a few extremely close pals that are crazy with op-shopping. As a result, the red deco table and sideboard are two of my favourite mid-century modern pieces. I think they’re stunning.

The collection of Temuka [pottery] is getting underway. Since Crown Lynn is no longer in business, we’ve been collecting Temuka instead.

One of my favorite features of the living room is the lightbox. Carl Bland (Filthy Rich, I’ll Make You Happy) painted it on Perspex. Ali acquired it as part of a fundraising effort for his theatre troupe, Nightsong. Ali The huge cat belongs to his late lover, making this a very sentimental piece.

Brokenwood star Neill Rea
Brokenwood star Neill Rea

For us, it holds significance because Ali is a close friend of the man.

There’s a Heaphy print in there, but we now have around five or six different Taranaki prints in the room. I’ve begun collecting them.

Lucy Bucknall created the images of the two kayakers. In Waikiki, Hawaii, and on the North Shore, Hawaii, you’ll see her sculptures.

My mum made the earthenware in the backyard. To this day, I tell everyone I meet that I despise ceramics and ceramicists because of my childhood experiences with them. It isn’t quite the case. That was a labor of love for me, and my mother, Bev Rea, is a true artist.

I was never interested in it. I made the occasional ashtray while pugging the clay [pressing recycled clay to make it useful again]. My oldest brother was a potter, and he made a lot of money by selling chess sets he built out of pottery.

Everyone else in the group seemed to be more interested in potting, and I thought, “Jeez, let’s go play a game of cricket or something.”

Even though they’re all rather large, they’re all quite interesting to look at. She always had a full-time job, so it was just a hobby for her. However, she kept her friendships with Barry Brickell and his cohorts quiet.

It is based on the Stephen King novel, Misery. Ali and I are working on it together. Approximately six years ago, it was adapted into a play.

He had a car accident in an isolated area of Colorado, and it’s all about his recovery. After being saved and nursed back to health, he begins to suspect that he is being held hostage and is subjected to a variety of forms of torture. As a result, it turns septic and strange.

Even though it doesn’t sound like a happy play, it’s quite funny. There is some grim humor in Ali and I’s performance, but I wouldn’t call it humorous.

I’ve purposefully not seen the movie again. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.

I went halfway through the book this time and realized it was different from the play, so I gave up. Stephen King, on the other hand, is a freaking legend.

I’ve always associated him with Wilbur Smith, another one of those well-known figures. If you give Charles Dickens a little breathing room, you’ll discover that he’s a damned good storyteller. I believe that’s what people thought of him at the time.

I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it; I was completely absorbed by it.

To perform is a grueling undertaking. The job Ali and his co-star Phil Anstis have been doing is outstanding. Because of this, I am convinced that it will be a little something extra.

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