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Kiwi screen star dies in China

AFP - Kevin Smith, one of New Zealand's hottest and hunkiest screen stars who had just scored a role opposite Bruce Willis, has reportedly died in a Beijing hospital.

Smith, best known for playing Ares in the hit television series Xena: Warrior Princess, suffered head injuries in a fall on February 6 after filming in the Chinese capital.

He had been in a critical condition at the Beijing Union Hospital, the New Zealand Herald said. His death was reported in Wellington on National Radio.

It quoted Smith's Auckland agent Robert Bruce as saying he had received a call from China confirming the death.

The 38-year-old had been in Beijing working on a joint United States-China movie, and was preparing to return to New Zealand.

He was then to have headed to a movie "boot camp" to prepare for what many believed would be his big break, a role in a Hollywood blockbuster starring Willis.

Local acting sources have said he was injured when he fell from a great height, possibly six storeys.

"He just went peacefully apparently. It's just such a tragic loss," Bruce told National Radio.

"Kevin was just on the brink of really where his career was taking off and it's bad from that point, but for all his friends and fans it's going to be a terrible loss to us all."

Smith's family, including his wife and three sons, were with him when he died, Bruce added.

The Auckland-born Smith starred in many New Zealand stage, television and feature films.

His ambition to break into the American movie market were realised when he scored a role in the $US70 million ($A136.03 million) Willis action film Man of War, due to start filming in Hawaii next month.

He had leapt at the chance to go to China because the role allowed him to learn from the stuntman who worked on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

He was voted New Zealand's sexiest man in a poll of 14,000 TV Guide readers last December.
 

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Yes Kevin Smith died in China. He was there filming a new martial arts movie and died on set but while during filming. He died after suffering severe brain damage after falling several storeys from a building on set in Beijeng.

We heard about it here in NZ last week and they said at first it wasn't life threatening or anything and that he would recover normally but then we heard on Saturday that he had died. Beijeng police are not investigating the death.

His mum and dad and his wife Suzanne and his kids Oscar, 11, Tyrone, 9, and Willard, 3 were all with him when he died. They flew to China as soon as they heard what had happened.

He was just about to get a big break too. He had a part in a new Bruce Willis movie and was headed to Hollywood in a fortnights time for 15 weeks of filming.

It's big news in NZ. Last year in December he was voted NZ's sexiest man.

Shows how the world press can get it wrong. He was born and raised in Timaru in the South Island but lived in Auckland, North Island now. Typical!!
 

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Fans and colleagues mourn Smith (NZ Herald)

18.02.2002
By CATHERINE MASTERS
The body of actor Kevin Smith is expected to be brought home towards the end of the week after his death in a Chinese hospital at the weekend.

The funeral arrangements have yet to be worked out and his body would probably not arrive before the middle of the week - at the earliest.

Smith died in hospital in Beijing early on Saturday after falling several storeys and suffering critical head injuries just over two weeks ago.

The Herald has learned that two of Smith's personal doctors had flown from New Zealand to observe his treatment, but they were not actively involved in it.

Few other details emerged yesterday of the events that led to his fall. His agent, Robert Bruce, could not be contacted and Smith's family is still understood to be keeping details of the incident private.

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is assisting his family with funeral arrangements, it did not know yesterday when his body might be brought home.

As celebrity friends of Smith mourned his death, fans around the world have been flocking to his website to express their grief. Many want to set up a memorial or trust fund for his wife and three young children.

Many of Smith's fans left messages saying how deeply shocked they were. "I and others are thinking of setting up a trust fund for Kevin's family. Nothing is carved in stone at this point," said one.

Another fan wrote:

"I just want to say how deeply sad I am. There is no easy way to deal with death. It is ugly."

Another says to take a lesson from Smith and from his life: "Let's try to see the goodness in people and the world around us, to live our lives to the fullest, like Kevin chose to. Kevin, I miss you mate."

As Ares, the god of war in Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess, Smith gained a huge and enthusiastic following and has several websites dedicated to him.

American actor Kevin Sorbo, who played the lead in Hercules, is said to be deeply upset after New Zealander Michael Hurst, his sidekick Iolas in Hercules, broke the news to him.

Hurst was to speak about Smith in the United States when he addressed a convention of Xena fans.

On Saturday night in Auckland at the Maidment Theatre, where Smith's friends Danielle Cormack and Lucy Lawless are appearing in The Vagina Monologues, a minute's silence was observed. Cormack and Lawless were too upset to comment yesterday.

Hurst's partner, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, who acted with Smith in the film Desperate Remedies, said the whole theatre world was there to pay their respects after the loss of their mate.

"There were lots of Kevin's friends and colleagues there and for me it was the best place to be, because I think Kevin would have wanted the show to go on."

The minute's silence was intensely emotional, she said, because everyone had special memories of him.

"I mean, really, the only thing missing was Kevin."

She said Michael Hurst, a close friend, was a little better than on Saturday. He had stayed up very late Saturday night in America with people who had worked on Xena reminiscing about their times with Smith.

"Michael spoke to Kevin [Sorbo] and they both wept on the phone together. That was really good that Michael could talk to him."

Caterina de Nave, who produced Channelling Baby in which Smith starred and also cast him in Shortland Street, said he was a fantastic man and the acting world was gutted.

"A gentleman, generous, funny, very masculine without being bombastic with it. Just a terrific guy ... I never once heard a cross word."
 

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thats sad indeed

RIP Kevin (Ares)



Hercules/Xena were a bit cheesy but I still watched them for their bit of comedy they always had in it.
 

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:( That is sad. I loved that show (Xena).
 

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rip :sad:
 

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He was my favorite character in Xena!:sad: Rest in peace, Kevin!
 
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