Kevin Smith was a New Zealand actor best known for his role as the God of War, Ares in the television programmes Xena: Warrior Princess; Hercules: The Legendary Journeys; and Young Hercules.
He died on February 15, 2002 after an accident on set in China.
His mother is Tongan, and his father from New Zealand. Smith's family moved to the small south island town of Timaru when he was eleven. He attended Timaru Boys High School from 1976 to 1979.
Drama was an interest throughout high school, and incidentally, in 1979 he was in the drama club alongside future well-known Auckland drag artist Mika (Neil Gudsell).
Smith played in rock and roll bands during high school. He also loved rugby and hoped to become a member of New Zealand's world-famous rugby team, the All Blacks.
At the age of 17, Smith moved to Christchurch South Island, New Zealand, and worked at various jobs before enrolling in Canterbury University at the age of 20.
In 1986 he married his high school sweetheart, Sue.
Smith got into acting by accident: he suffered a concussion while playing college rugby in 1987 and was forced to sit on the sidelines for almost three weeks.
His wife saw a casting call advertisement for the touring musical tribute to Elvis Presley, Are You Lonesome Tonight, and signed up Kevin for an audition. He got the role of bodyguard JoJoe and was the lead understudy.
Later that year, Smith joined Christchurch's Court Theatre and performed on stage for the next three years in a variety of roles, including Don Pedro in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.
In 1989, he got the role of charming "bad boy" Demian Vermeer on the New Zealand primetime soap opera Gloss, and moved to Auckland to work on the series' final season.
In 1993, Smith played Lawrence Hayes in Desperate Remedies. He then appeared as Paul Cosic in the last two seasons of the primetime drama Marlin Bay. For this role, he won the 1995 New Zealand Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He screentested for the lead role in Paramount's big budget action-film The Phantom, but the role ultimately went to Billy Zane instead. His fellow Hercules cast member, B-movie legend Bruce Campbell, was also one of the contenders for the role of the legendary superhero.
Also in 1995, Smith appeared on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Hercules' half-brother, Iphicles. Later he joined the cast of Xena: Warrior Princess as Ares, a role he eventually reprised on Hercules and Young Hercules.
As the dark, dangerously seductive God of War, Smith gained legions of fans.
While guest-starring on Xena and Hercules, Smith also appeared in other TV shows and films, notably as detective John Lawless in three TV movies: Lawless (1999), Lawless 2: Dead Evidence (2000), and Lawless 3: Beyond Justice (2001).
Smith also continued to act in the theatre and played in a number of New Zealand's alternative rock bands. He was one of the lead singers of The Wide Lapels, a band famous for its campy performances of the worst songs of the 1970s.
In a tragically ironic twist Smith, whose acting career was launched due to an accidental injury, had his life cut short by an accidental injury on the verge of what would have been his Hollywood debut.
He had been cast in a supporting role in the movie Tears of the Sun, starring Bruce Willis. First, however, he traveled to China to film the movie Warriors of Virtue II.
On February 6, 2002, while waiting for a ride back to the hotel after completing his work on the set, Smith decided to walk around the Central China Television film studio grounds and climbed a prop tower on the set of another film.
He lost his footing and fell three stories, suffering severe head injuries. Smith was sent to a local hospital, then transferred to Beijing.
He lapsed into a coma and was kept on life support for 10 days before his family decided to let him go. He died on February 15 without regaining consciousness.
Smith is survived by his wife and three sons.