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Goodbye Pork Pie co-star dies at 81

Tony Barry, right, in a scene from Goodbye Pork Pie.

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Tony Barry, right, in a scene from Goodbye Pork Pie.
Photo: Supplied / NZ Film Commission

Australian actor, “honorary Kiwi” and co-star of New Zealand film classic Goodbye Pork Pie Tony Barry has died at age 81.

Barry played John, a hitch-hiker who ends up on a comic cross-country journey in the 1981 hit film.

Filmmaker Dame Gaylene Preston wrote on Facebook of the actor’s death yesterday.

“It is with a heavy heart that we farewell Tony Barry who died peacefully yesterday at Murwillumbah NSW after a long illness. … He was one of a kind.

“A fierce fighter for the underdog, working for indigenous rights and as part of rehabilitation programmes in the justice system and for the environment. He considered himself an honorary Kiwi being the only Australian to feature on a NZ postage stamp for his role in Goodbye Pork Pie.”

Goodbye Pork Pie, the story of two aimless drifters who end up stealing a car and engaging in a wild car chase throughout Aotearoa, was one of New Zealand’s first local-made movie hits, even sparking a remake in 2017.

“I think it connected with the dreams of a lot of people … It gave people a license to believe that they could be free in their own hearts, even if it was just for an hour and a half in the movies,” he told NZ OnScreen.

Born in Queensland, Barry performed in dozens of feature films and television series including NZ productions Never Say Die, Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Preston’s own Home By Christmas.

He also worked with Bruno Lawrence and Geoff Murphy – who directed Goodbye Pork Pie – in the avant-garde theatre and musical troupe Blerta.

BLERTA actors Bruno Lawrence and Tony Barry ham it up in a keystone cops role, with the contents of the loot bag appearing to be copies of the controversial 70s underground magazine Cock.

Bruno Lawrence and Tony Barry ham it up with Blerta.
Photo: Helen Whiteford, used with permission.

Among those paying tribute were actor Sam Neill, who called Barry “a hero of mine.”

Dame Gaylene wrote that Barry never stopped working despite a cancer diagnosis, which required a leg to be amputated in 2014.

“Diagnosed with melanoma in 2007, he insisted in keeping going, working to the end.

“A mighty tree has fallen. A warrior is lying down.”

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