NZ's notorious TV bad guy Mike Edward on being abused in public and his new role in Head High

Mike Edward is a man with recognisable face - you might know him from any number of bad guys he has played on Kiwi television over the past two decades. His acting credits are lengthy and diverse, across theatre, television, film and even circus performing, but there is a theme: he's often the villain. 

True to form, Edwards' character on the new local rugby drama Head High has been described as 'a bit of wanker', but according to the actor himself, "he's cool". 

He plays John White, a rugby coach for the opposing private boy's school rugby team in the series. Edwards says he based the character on sensei John Kreese from the original Karate Kid movie, a Vietnam veteran and trainer of the Cobra Kai who instructs his students to be merciless to their opponents. 

Despite drawing inspiration from some of pop culture's biggest and baddest villains, Edwards says he never really thinks of the roles he plays as good or bad. 

"Maybe three months later when you watch it you go, 'Aw, he's a real dick'," Edward says. 

"But at the time, you don't notice. In real life, no one is going around going 'I'm bad'."

NZ's notorious TV bad guy Mike Edward on being abused in public and his new role in Head High
Photo credit: South Pacific Pictures

Still, many of the indiscretions of Edward's previous characters can be hard to overlook. 

He's played a marriage-ruining gardener named Adam in Nothing Trivial, a corporate suit who threw a woman off a balcony in Filthy Rich and a dude called Segovax in Spartacus, who, if nothing else, just sounds like he's a bit nasty. 

Perhaps most infamously, he took on the role of Shortland Street sexual assaulter Zac Smith, dubbed one of the evilest Shortland Street villains of all time. Such a prestigious title does not come without some real-life consequences, it seems. 

"I once had a lady serve me in a bakery, she was looking at me kind of sideways and she got the croissant and she gave it to me and she went: 'You are a horrible man'," Edward says. 

"To be fair though, you'd rather have that any day than someone tell you you're a crap actor." 

In his latest role, audiences might expect a little less bloodshed and a little more 'sweep the leg', but Edward will no doubt continue to find "the joy" in being the bad in Head High.

Mike Edward appears on Head High, which airs Wednesdays at 8.30pm on Three and on demand on ThreeNow.