Questions by Fran Rossini
Photography: Alison Dyer
New York Moves: Being from New Zealand, what was the strangest part of transitioning to the US?
Martin Henderson: One of the strangest things was getting used to how people promote themselves here in the US particularly in the film and TV industry whereas in New Zealand we are a lot more self-deprecating and culturally it is not really the norm to talk yourself up in the way that people do here. I had a hard time going into meetings and “selling” myself.
NYM: If persuading someone to visit New Zealand, what draws would you mention? What do you miss about it the most?
MH: Certainly the scenic beauty. Most of the country is truly breathtaking and in such a small nation there is such an abundance of natural wonders. I encourage people to visit during February and March so they can enjoy the best weather and really enjoy the stunning coastal areas as well as the mountains and native bush (woods). I miss the laid back attitude of most people and the lighthearted humor and hospitality. New Zealanders are generally a friendly, down to earth people who love a good laugh. We value our recreation time more than our work I think and that makes for a happy society mostly. I also miss the food, the coffee, my old mates from growing up and of course my family and that feeling of just being amongst your tribe.
NYM: Are New Zealand elections as kooky as ours?
MH: We’ve had some kooky moments for sure but I think this current fiasco in the US takes the cake. I’m sure it is providing a lot of gobsmacking entertainment for the rest of the world, New Zealand included.
NYM: You were in Britney Spears’ music video for ‘Toxic.’ Has this left you with an affinity for Britney? What was a highlight for you of making this?
MH: Man!…You kiss one pop star!! It’s strange to me how often this comes up but yes, it did leave me with an affinity for her. I was struck with how easy going she was and willing to make fun of herself. I felt terrible for her when shortly after that she was having so much trouble because I could tell she was pretty much a regular young woman in a very irregular and abnormal world. I think she is a sweetheart. A very talented sweetheart. And a great kisser.
NYM: You’ve been in everything from commercials, theater, short films, series, feature films—what are some of your favorite projects you’ve been a part of?
MH: I think creatively my most rewarding role was in an Australian film I did with Cate Blanchett years ago called Little Fish. I loved having a real character to build who was so different to me. I love to play characters who are a little “off.” And I love to do kooky, funny stuff whenever I’m given the chance. Miracle’s From Heaven isn’t that at all but to be a part of telling a real life story that offers so much hope and allows us to connect emotionally is also a huge gift. I love to hear how many people are being touched by this film. Being on Grey’s [Grey’s Anatomy] is also a privilege. I love how we get to do medical and relationship drama with all of its intensity, but also to play around with the lighter comedic tones that the show does so well, too.
NYM: What is a funny story from your acting career? Any silly run-ins or mishaps?
MH: I’ve had a ton of mishaps. Usually from being so clumsy. In fact, just a few weeks back we were shooting a scene on Grey’s and my job was to force some blood through an IV line by squeezing the blood bag in order to help save a patient’s life. We rehearsed the scene numerous times and all went swimmingly. Of course as soon as we film it I get all intense and doctorly and squeeze the crap out of the blood bag and fake blood goes pouring out all over the gurney, the patient, and the set. I think I am very unpopular in most prop departments.
NYM: How was it transitioning into Grey’s?
MH: Honestly, it felt pretty seamless. I knew the show well and the tone and so I had a good idea of what was being asked of me as a performer. Having worked with Shonda Rhimes [Grey’s creator] a couple of times before made it familiar enough. Although there was a sense that I was stepping into something that was so longstanding and well-loved, it was a little daunting for the first week or two. But the cast went out of their way to make me feel a part of the show and Ellen [Pompeo] especially was very gracious and warm and made an effort to make me feel welcome.
NYM: Has the medical field been appealing to you?
MH: Not really ever as a career consideration, no. I love to learn about how the body works and I find it fascinating and miraculous, but I think I’m way better suited to playing a doctor on TV than actually being one in real life. Trust me, you don’t want me being clumsy in surgery.
NYM: New York or LA?
MH: I think New York is a better city for sure. I lived there in my 20’s and LOVED it but I thrive more in nature so LA for me.
NYM: The Cars or Split Enz?
MH: You’re asking a Kiwi. Split Enz bro!
All Saints clothing
photography by Alison Dyer
stylist Jordan Grossman @ exclusive artists management
groomer Jamal Hammadi @ forward artists
for hamadi organics
location Dyrness Automotive Shop glendale, ca