Stars butt heads on set

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Fists – and heads – flew when Jake the Muss faced an East London heavy on the set of a new $10 million movie being shot in Queenstown.

In the blue corner is gritty British actor Ray Winstone, a former boxer best known for tough-guy roles in hit gangster flicks The Departed and Sexy Beast.

In the red, there’s Temuera Morrison – the Kiwi star who shot to fame as the abusive and violent Jake Heke in Once Were Warriors.

The pair came out fighting when the cameras rolled at Moke Lake last week for manhunt action-thriller Tracker, set in early 1900s New Zealand.

“Tem and I have started to really hit it off – literally,” London-born Winstone says with a grin. “I headbutted him yesterday and he got me back a few times.

“But I’m tougher than him. He’s a bit of a pussy cat on the quiet.”

Morrison is relishing going head-to-head with Winstone and reckons they’ve developed a powerful on-screen chemistry.

“This is a very physical movie and there’s a lot of fighting in it,” Morrison says. “When Ray had to give me a headbutt I said to him afterwards ‘You’ve done that before’.”

“He might be an ex-boxer but he’s mellowed a bit. Anyway, I’ve got speed on my side – I’m a fast runner.”

In Tracker, Winstone plays an ex-Boer War guerrilla in NZ who’s sent out to bring back a Maori (Morrison) accused of killing a British soldier.

The movie – also being shot in Glenorchy and Auckland – will premiere at the world-famous Cannes Film Festival in France next year.

During an on-set break, Morrison shrugged off questions about his much-publicised money troubles.

He’s appeared in several Hollywood hits including the Star Wars series but last year it was reported his lakeside mansion in Rotorua was up for sale and he’s been in serious debt.

“Life has its ups and downs,’ Morrison says.

“One day you’re getting on a ship with Sandra Bullock sipping Mai Tais or you are filming with Harrison Ford – then you’re wondering why your agent hasn’t called with your next project,” he says.

Winstone will next be seen in the new Mel Gibson blockbuster Edge of Darkness, slotted for NZ release in February.

“Mel is blinding in that one. It’s a great film,” Winstone says.