‘Jake the Muss’ speaks up for Women’s Refuge in spine-tingling PSA

Twenty years after Once Were Warriors, Temuera Morrison is back on screens to reflect on his experience playing Jake the Muss, a wife-beating character who will be with him for life.

To promote the Women’s Refuge July annual appeal, Morrison goes back to the making of the film and how he took on the violent character, not only by putting on a leather jacket and fake tattoos, but in a mental way as well.

The stirring campaign was conceptualised by John Fisher and Ken Double at Doublefish and shot by director Alison Farmer from production company Farmer Clark. Crestani Communications is behind the communication.

In the video, Morrison relays his experiences of playing Jake, saying that when the character walked into a room, he wanted everyone to feel on edge and the way to do that, he says, is to “feel it and believe it, and believe it, and believe it so much so that it becomes part of your make up”.

He says one day he was so exhausted he found himself ranting and yelling and he had to tell himself to stop.

Of course, Morrison was in the privileged position of being able to leave the character at work, but this isn’t the case for many people.  

As he explains, “I could rub off the tattoos and take the jacket off, but in real life, people can’t do that.”

He explains that what he finds disturbing about modern New Zealand is young men of today still look at Jake and glorify him, while women watch the movie and relate to Jake’s beaten wife.

“Here we are now in the year 2016, 20 years since Once Were Warriors but the problem’s got worse,” he says.

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