Michael Hurst

Michael Eric Hurst, ONZM (born 20 September 1957) is a British-born New Zealand actor, director and writer, mostly on stage and television. He is probably best known internationally for playing Iolaus in the television programs Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and companion series Xena: Warrior Princess. Most recently, he is known for his role in directing the popular Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand and Ash vs Evil Dead.

Michael Hurst
Michael Eric Hurst

(1957-09-20) 20 September 1957
Lancashire, England
OccupationActor, director, writer
Years active1976–present
Spouse(s)Jennifer Ward-Lealand (1988–present)


Hurst was born in Lancashire, England, the eldest of three brothers. When he was seven his family moved to Christchurch, New Zealand. He enrolled at Papanui High School, then University of Canterbury, but for only one year.

He married New Zealand actress Jennifer Ward-Lealand in 1988. They have two sons: Jack Louis Ward Hurst, born in 1997, and Cameron Lane Ward Hurst, born in 1999.

In 1984, Hurst won the lead role of David Blyth's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first splatter movie. The plot saw Hurst's character weathering institutionalisation, sundry wackos, and a motorcycle chase in the tunnels below Waiheke Island. The film won the grand prize at a fantasy film festival in Paris. The same year Hurst began playing drummer Dave Nelson over two series of Heroes, about a band searching for fame.

Crime thriller Dangerous Orphans (1986) is the first film in which Hurst co-starred with real-life partner Jennifer Ward-Lealand (he had already acted with her on-stage). Hurst was one of three grown orphans caught up in a mission to one-up various criminal figures; Ward-Lealand played romantic interest to one of the other orphans.

Hurst would work with Ward-Lealand again on his next three features, 1992's The Footstep Man, 1993's Desperate Remedies, and 1999's I'll Make You Happy. In 1993, he starred alongside Australian Sophie Lee and Brit Greg Wise in TV thriller Typhon's People. Hurst played a European mystery man uncovering the truth behind corporate genetic meddling. The script was by author Margaret Mahy.

Hurst went on to co-star in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys with Kevin Sorbo, playing nimble sidekick Iolaus to Sorbo's Hercules.

Hurst made his feature debut as a director with Jubilee (2000), based on the book by Nepi Solomon. The film stars Cliff Curtis as a kind-hearted procrastinator who gets the chance to prove himself by organising a 75th jubilee.

Hurst followed Jubilee by directing Love Mussel, an acclaimed one off satire for television. Written by Braindead's Stephen Sinclair and starring Kevin Smith, Love Mussel is a mockumentary about a fictional township which erects a monument to a shellfish with Viagra-like properties.

In 2003, Hurst was awarded an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award. He was later designated an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2005 "for services to film and the theatre".

In 2015, after critically acclaimed runs in New Zealand and at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Hurst directed The Generation of Z: Apocalypse at a purpose-built venue in East London between 4 April 2015 to July 2015. Hurst stated, "A lot of the reviews have said 'immersive theatre into overdrive'. 'Video game, only live.' It has those qualities. There are choices where the audience can affect the outcome of scenes which is quite a new thing. It flows very easily depending on which choice they make."[1]

In October 2018 he was presented with a Scroll of Honour from the Variety Artists Club of New Zealand for his contribution to New Zealand entertainment.


Starring roles

1982Casualties of PeacePeterTV Movie
1984ConstancePhotographer (scenes deleted)Film
1984HeroesDave NelsonTV Series
1984Death Warmed UpMichael TuckerFilm
1985Dangerous OrphansMoirFilm
1986Heroes IIDave NelsonTV Series
1989The Shadow TraderBob HoyleTV Mini-Series
1992The Footstep ManHenri de Toulouse-LautrecFilm
1993Typhon's PeopleConstantineTV Movie
1993Desperate RemediesWillam PoyserFilm
1994Hercules and the Amazon WomenIolausTV Movie
1994Hercules in the UnderworldAelus/CharonTV Movie
1994Hercules in the Maze of the MinotaurIolausTV Movie
1995Hercules: The Legendary JourneysIolaus/Charon/Orestes/Dahak/Widow TwankeyTV Series (79 episodes)
1997A Moment PassingJoeyShort Film
1997The BarShort Film
1997HighwaterHugh ChanceTV Movie
1998Hercules and Xena - The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount OlympusIolaus (voice)Video
1998Young HerculesThe JewelerVideo
1999I'll Make You HappyLouFilm
1999This Is ItNarrator, host, and various historical figuresTV Special
2001The Man Who Has EverythingGeorge AllwellTV Movie
2002HoneyNicShort Film
2002Showstopperscelebrity judgeTV Series
2003Murder on the Blade?Defence lawyerTV Movie
2004FractureAthol PeetFilm
2004Hold the AnchoviesManager & Old IraqiVideo
2006Maddigan's QuestMaskaTV Series
2006Treasure Island Kids: The Monster of Treasure Islandferry pilotFilm
2007Ask Your UnclesPresenterTV Series
2007The TattooistCrashFilm
2007We're Here To HelpRodney HideFilm
2007The Last Magic ShowTrevor NortonFilm
2007The Map ReaderAlison's fatherFilm
2009Bitch SlapGageFilm
2012InorganicBrettShort Film
2014Death Walks into a BarGod of WarShort Film

Guest-starring roles

1976Thirty Minute TheatreJim"Tinkling Brass"
1983Both Sides of the FenceGary McNabb1.09
1983Country GPMark Sloane1.32
1985HanlonElliott1.6 "In Defence of Shue Rock"
1985HanlonDefence Lawyer1.7 "In Defence"
1989Shark in the ParkDavid Jennings2.8 "Acting Sergeant"
1990The New Adventures of Black BeautyKurt1.08 "The Birdman"
1990The Ray Bradbury TheaterRoger Shumway4.08 "The Toynbee Convector"
1991For the Love of MikeLaurie1.06
1992The Ray Bradbury TheaterLt. Simmons6.06 "The Long Rain"
1995Xena: Warrior PrincessIolaus1.08 "Prometheus"
1996Xena: Warrior PrincessCharon1.16 "Mortal Beloved"
1997Xena: Warrior PrincessIolaus2.13 "The Quest"
1997E! News DailyHimself
1997Entertainment TonightHimself
1998Young HerculesCharon1.20 "A Lady in Hades"
1999Celebrity ProfileHimself"Lucy Lawless"
1999Sunday News Give Us a ClueHimself
1999DugganMichael Taylor1.3 "A Shadow of Doubt: Part 1"
1999DugganMichael Taylor1.4 "A Shadow of Doubt: Part 2"
2000Topp Twinscelebrity golfer3.05 "Bowls and Golf"
2000Mai TimeHimself
2000Celebrity ProfileHimself"Kevin Sorbo"
2000Jack of All TradesCaptain Nardo da Vinci2.2 "Shark Bait"
2001Love MusselStephen JessopTV Movie
2001Xena: Warrior PrincessNigel6.13 "You Are There"
2002AndromedaRyan2.20 "The Knight, Death and the Devil"
2002MatakuDr. Forbes1.05 "The Final Plume"
2003Good MorningHimself
2003Shortland StreetGreg VicelichRecurring (10 episodes)
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"D.J. Drummond" (voice)1.20 "Good Will Hunter"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.27 "Shane's Karma: Part 2"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.30 "The Wild Wipeout"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.31 "Double-Edged Blake"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.33 "General Deception, Part I"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.34 "General Deception, Part II"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.35 "A Gem of a Day"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.36 "Down and Dirty"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.37 "Storm Before the Calm, Part I"
2003Power Rangers: Ninja Storm"Vexacus" (voice)1.38 "Storm Before the Calm, Part II"
2005Power Rangers: S.P.D.Silverhead (voice)1.28 "Robotpalooza"
2007Here to StayHimself1.03 "The English"
2009Legend of the SeekerAmfortas1.13 "Revenant"
2010The Jono Project"Michael Hurst"1.12 "Sir Butch"
2012Spartacus: VengeanceRoman soldier – uncredited2.09 "Monsters"
2012The Almighty JohnsonsKvasir2.01 "And She Will Come to You"
2012The Almighty JohnsonsKvasir2.11 "The House of Jerome"
2012The Almighty JohnsonsKvasir2.12 "You Call This the Real World?"
2012The Almighty JohnsonsKvasir2.13 "Does this Look Like Asgard?"
2012Auckland DazeMichael1.06
2014Auckland DazeMichael2.05
2014Auckland DazeMichael2.06
2016Terry TeoCornelius Jones1.04 "Head to Head"
2016HighroadThe Director3.04 "39 Lashes"


1994I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry
1996Hercules: The Legendary Journeys(TV Series) (episode 3.01 "Mercenary")
1997Amazon HighTV Movie
1997Xena: Warrior Princess(TV Series) (episode 2.15 "A Day in the Life")
1997Hercules: The Legendary Journeys(TV Series) (episode 4.08 " . . . And Fancy Free")
1998Hercules: The Legendary Journeys(TV Series) (episode 4.17 "One Fowl Day")
1998Hercules: The Legendary Journeys(TV Series) (episode 5.01 "Faith")
1998Hercules: The Legendary Journeys(TV Series) (episode 5.07 "Somewhere Over the Rainbow Bridge")
1998Xena: Warrior Princess(TV Series) (episode 4.06 "A Tale of Two Muses")
1999Hercules: The Legendary Journeys(TV Series) (episode 5.15 "Greece is Burning")
2000Jack of All Trades(TV Series) episode 2.04 "The Morning After"
2000Jack of All Trades(TV Series) episode 2.06 "One, Two, Three, Give Me Lady Liberty"
2000Xena: Warrior Princess(TV Series) (episode 5.16 "Life Blood")
2000Xena: Warrior Princess(TV Series) (episode 5.18 "Anthony & Cleopatra")
2000Xena: Warrior Princess(TV Series) (episode 6.04 "Who's Gurkhan")
2001Xena: Warrior Princess(TV Series) (episode 6.15 "To Helicon and Back")
2001Love MusselTV Movie
2004Treasure Island Kids: The Mystery of Treasure Island
2004Treasure Island Kids: The Monster of Treasure Island
2009Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 1.08 "Denna")
2009Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 1.10 "Sacrifice")
2009Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 1.22 "Reckoning")
2009Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 2.2 "Baneling")
2010Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 2.12 "Hunger")
2010Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 2.17 "Vengeance")
2010Legend of the Seeker(TV Series) (episode 2.21 "Unbroken")
2010Spartacus: Blood and Sand(TV Series) (episode 1.05 "Shadow Games")
2010Spartacus: Blood and Sand(TV Series) (episode 1.09 "Whore")
2010Spartacus: Blood and Sand(TV Series) (episode 1.12 "Revelations")
2011Spartacus: Gods of the Arena(TV Series) (episode 1.03 "Paterfamilias")
2012Spartacus: Vengeance(TV Series) (episode 2.01 "Fugitivus")
2012Spartacus: Vengeance(TV Series) (episode 2.06 "Chosen Path")
2013Spartacus: War of the Damned(TV Series) (episode 3.04 "Decimation")
2013Spartacus: War of the Damned(TV Series) (episode 3.09 "The Dead and the Dying")
2013The Almighty Johnsons(TV Series) (episode 3.07 "Typical Auckland God")
2013The Almighty Johnsons(TV Series) (episode 3.08 "The Asparagus is Kicking In")
2014The Brokenwood Mysteries(TV Series) (episode 1.03 "Playing the Lie")
2014Step Dave(TV Series) (episode 1.05 "My Room")
2014Step Dave(TV Series) (episode 1.06 "Knocked Up Natalie")
2014Step Dave(TV Series) (episode 1.07 "Promise and Deliver")
2015Step Dave(TV Series) (episode 2.12 "Kids")
2015Step Dave(TV Series) (episode 2.13 "Will You, Won't You")
2015Tatau(TV Series) (episode 1.06)
2015Tatau(TV Series) (episode 1.07)
2015Ash vs Evil Dead(TV Series) (episode 1.06 "The Killer of Killers")
2015Ash vs Evil Dead(TV Series) (episode 1.07 "Fire in The Hole")
2016Westside(TV Series) (episode 2.03)
2016Westside(TV Series) (episode 2.04)
2016Westside(TV Series) (episode 2.07)
2016Westside(TV Series) (episode 2.08)
2016800 Words(TV Series) (episode 2.03)
2016800 Words(TV Series) (episode 2.04)
2017800 Words(TV Series) (episode 2.09)
2017800 Words(TV Series) (episode 2.10)
2017800 Words(TV Series) (episode 2.13)
2017800 Words(TV Series) (episode 2.14)


2012Spartacus: War of the DamnedTV Series


1994I'm So Lonesome I Could CryScreenplay
1996Clown StoryStory


  1. Cheesman, Neil (9 March 2015). "Interview with Michael Hurst". London Theatre.
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