Cliff Curtis was born in Rotorua, New Zealand, on July 27, 1968. He is of New Zealand Maori descent (with Ngati Hauiti and Te Arawa tribal affiliations). He enrolled at the New Zealand Drama School, and then the Teatro Dmitri Scoula in Switzerland. After returning to New Zealand from Europe, he was cast in Пианино (1993). Subsequent roles in New Zealand include the camp melodrama Desperate Remedies (1993), the grueling urban drama Когда-то были воинами (1994), and the lighthearted comedy Jubilee (2000). In Hollywood, Curtis has played a range of different roles and ethnicities in films. He plays a Colombian in Кокаин (2001), an Arab in Три короля (1999) and Свой человек (1999), a Latino in Тренировочный день (2001) and Вердикт за деньги (2003), and a drug dealer of ambiguous ethnicity in Воскрешая мертвецов (1999). However, he is probably best known for his role as Paikea’s father Porourangi, in Оседлавший кита (2002).