Actor Kevin Smith dies after fall in China


Leading New Zealand actor Kevin Smith has died in a Beijing hospital after he was critically injured in a fall.

His agent, Robert Bruce, confirmed that the 38-year-old actor had died.

"I received a call from Kevin's family to say that he passed away in his sleep.
"It's a shock to us all, and a major shock to the family. They're just trying to come to terms with it all."
Mr Bruce could provide no further details.

Auckland-based Smith was injured in the Chinese capital 10 days ago and doctors treating him were concerned that he would not recover from serious injuries.

The accident occurred on February 6, the day after the actor finished work on a joint US-Chinese production, and as he was preparing to return to NZ.

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

The doctor treating Smith told the Herald last night that staff from China's top movie production house, Beijing Film Studio, rushed him to the Beijing Union Hospital after the fall. Smith was believed to have been on a life-support machine before his death.
The doctor, who did not wish to be named, said Smith had suffered a severe injury to his skull and had been in a critical condition.

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

Li Hao, a spokeswoman for one of the companies involved in Warriors of Virtue II, said Smith, who had completed his film contract the day before the fall, had made a big impression.

Smith's wife, Suzanne, and his parents, Geoff and Yvonne, are understood to have been with him.
In addition to his wife, Mr Smith leaves his three children, Oscar, 11, Tyrone, 9, and Willard, 3.

Mr Bruce said last night that the actor's family wanted to thank everyone who had sent messages of love and support.

Smith starred in many New Zealand stage, television and feature films and is perhaps best known for his role as Ares in Xena: Warrior Princess.

His ambitions to break into the American movie market were realised when he scored a role in the $US70 million ($166 million) Bruce Willis action film Man of War, due to start filming in Hawaii next month.

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

Smith, Auckland-born but Timaru-raised, got into acting when his wife and childhood sweetheart saw a casting call while he was sidelined by concussion during the rugby season.

He was soon a leading man, happy to laugh at his beefcake image.

"A nicer guy you wouldn't find anywhere," said friend and Comedian Mike King.


Kevin Smith was on the brink of an acting career breakthrough before his death.

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