British actor Benedict Cumberbatch has effusively thanked New Zealanders for providing a safe-haven for him and his elderly parents when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
The Doctor Strange star was in Aotearoa working on The Power of the Dog with New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion when the country went into alert level 4 lockdown.
Cumberbatch tells Newshub he and his family felt "so blessed" to be "stuck" in New Zealand at the time.
"We were very, very fortunate," he says.
"It was too late by then to risk going back home. I had both my parents with me who are in their 80s, and my dad is severely asthmatic... and my three boys and my wife, a very merry band of us. We couldn't have landed in a more fortunate situation, we were so lucky and I just held them close to me."
The film had completed production on location in Central Otago and the cast and crew moved to Auckland to start studio work when New Zealand went into lockdown.
Cumberbatch remains hugely grateful of the hospitality he received from Kiwis during his family's time here.
"One of the greatest of your national characteristics - if I may be so bold as to analyse it - is your welcomeness, your hospitality, your open arm care of all comers. We felt so, so privileged to be in your company, we really did, so thank you, from the bottom of my heart."
Cumberbatch is now back in the UK filming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness while his next film The Courier lands in New Zealand cinemas next month.