Bret McKenzie
McKenzie at the Muppets Most Wanted premiere on 11 March 2014
McKenzie at the Muppets Most Wanted premiere on 11 March 2014
Background information
Birth nameBret Peter Tarrant McKenzie
Also known asRhymenoceros
Born (1976-06-29) 29 June 1976 (age 47)
Wellington, New Zealand
Years active1994–present
LabelsSub Pop
RelativesDeirdre Tarrant (mother)
Peter McKenzie (father)

Bret Peter Tarrant McKenzie ONZM (born 29 June 1976) is a New Zealand musician, comedian, music supervisor, and actor. He is best known as one half of musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords along with Jemaine Clement. In the 2000s, the duo's comedy and music became the basis of a BBC radio series and then an oft-lauded American television series, which aired for two seasons on HBO. Active since 1998, the duo released their most recent comedy special, Live in London, in 2018.

Primarily a musician, McKenzie has worked as a songwriter and music supervisor for film and television since the 2010s. He served as music supervisor for two Muppet films, The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Most Wanted (2014), the former of which won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "Man or Muppet". In the 2000s, McKenzie was part of reggae fusion band The Black Seeds and Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, and, in the 2010s, he began performing solo material. His debut album Songs Without Jokes was released in August 2022.

As an actor, he portrayed elves in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies: in the first he remained unnamed with fans naming him Figwit, a character originally cast as an extra who gained attention thanks to the trilogy's fan community. He later appears in The Hobbit as Lindir, a minor character who originally appears in the book of The Fellowship of the Ring.

The two men sit on stools facing out to an audience with guitars and mics and glowing lighting. McKenzie is pensively looking up.
Bret McKenzie with collaborator Jemaine Clement performing as Flight of the Conchords in 2007

Early life

McKenzie was born in Wellington to Peter McKenzie, a part-time actor, and Deirdre Tarrant, a contemporary dance teacher. He was raised in Kelburn with his brothers Justin and Jonny.[1] McKenzie attended Clifton Terrace Model School between 1982 and 1987[2] ("model" refers to a standard school for training teachers as opposed to modelling).[1] His classmates at the school included Antonia Prebble and Age Pryor.[1]

McKenzie then went on to Wellington College where he was a prefect and won the Wellington regional heats of the Smokefree Rockquest with his jazz and funk band, The Blue Samanthas.[1]


Flight of the Conchords

Main article: Flight of the Conchords

While studying at Victoria University of Wellington, McKenzie met Jemaine Clement, a fellow student who was also studying film and theatre. They didn't complete their degrees but ended up living together and first were members of So You're a Man, and then later forming Flight of the Conchords.[1]

As Flight of the Conchords they have toured internationally and released four CDs: Folk the World Tour in 2002,The Distant Future (which won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album) in 2007,[1] the Grammy nominated Flight of the Conchords in 2008, and I Told You I Was Freaky in 2009. The Conchords produced a six-part improvisational comedy radio programme for the BBC[1] and have appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the Late Show with David Letterman[1] and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

After a successful appearance in 2005 on HBOs One Night Stand,[1] the Conchords were offered their own 12-part HBO series Flight of the Conchords. Its first season ran from June to September 2007, and its second season premiered on HBO 18 January 2009. Along with Clement, McKenzie was featured as 2007 Salon "Sexiest Man Living"[3][4] and 2008's "100 Sexiest People" in a special edition of the Australian magazine Who.[5] More recently, the duo toured in 2012, 2016, and 2018.


McKenzie has acted periodically since making his professional acting debut in 2000, a small role in the UK series Dark Knight which was filmed in Wellington. Outside the Flight of the Conchords television adaption, he is most notable for his appearances in the first and third films in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His silent role in the first film as Figwit achieved some minor internet fame,[1] which led to Jackson giving him a line in the third film.[1] His father Peter McKenzie played the role of Elendil in Lord of the Rings.[6] In April 2011, McKenzie was cast as the elf Lindir for The Hobbit.[7]

McKenzie, together with Australian comedian Hamish Blake, starred in a New Zealand feature film, Two Little Boys, finished in late 2011 and released in New Zealand in March 2012.[8] He had a supporting role in the 2013 film Austenland.

Guest starring roles include him and fellow Conchord Clement as a pair of camp counselors in "Elementary School Musical", the season premiere of the 22nd season of The Simpsons, which aired on 26 September 2010, and other comedies.[9]

Music and songwriting for screen

McKenzie has contributed to a number of projects outside of Flight of the Conchords. In the late 1990s, McKenzie joined the reggae fusion group The Black Seeds; he put out four albums with band before leaving around 2007.[10] The Black Seeds had some minor radio hits during his tenure, and continue to be regionally successful.[11] In the mid-2000s, he released music under the name The Video Kid, including his album Prototype.[12] In 2005, he helped form the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra which was active into the 2010s.[1][13]

In the late 2010s, he began writing and recording solo material again, and later toured New Zealand in 2018 with a collective that included musicians Age Pryor and Nigel Collins.[14]

During the summer of 2010, McKenzie flew to Los Angeles to serve as the music supervisor for The Muppets.[15] He went on to write four of the five original songs from the film's soundtrack including "Man or Muppet" and "Life's a Happy Song" both of which were nominated for Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and Satellite Awards for Best Original Song.[16] At the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 his song, "Man or Muppet", won the Academy Award for Best Original Song.[1]

McKenzie then wrote the original songs for the 2014 movie Muppets Most Wanted,[17] as well as songs for other children's films like The Pirates! Band of Misfits and Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Other credits include the 2016 Sainsbury's Christmas advert featuring James Corden on vocals.[18] He has written songs for The Simpsons on numerous occasions.

McKenzie released his debut solo album, Songs Without Jokes, on Sub Pop in August 2022. The release will be followed with an extensive tour in New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, and North America.[19] The album is inspired by the songwriting of Steely Dan, Randy Newman, and Harry Nilsson.[19]

Personal life

He is married to New Zealand publicist Hannah Clarke[20][21] and currently maintains residences in Los Angeles, New York City, and Wellington. They have three children and mainly live in Wellington.[22]

In the 2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours, McKenzie was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to music and film.[23]

Awards and nominations

Award Year[a] Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Category Result Ref.
Academy Awards 2011 Bret McKenzie for "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets Best Original Song Won
Annie Awards 2010 Tim Long, Alf Clausen, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie for The Simpsons: Elementary School Musical Music in a Television Production Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2011 Bret McKenzie for "Life's a Happy Song" from The Muppets Best Song Won
Bret McKenzie for "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets Nominated
Emmy Awards 2008 James Bobin, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie for "Yoko" Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Nominated [24][25]
Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clement and James Bobin for "Inner City Pressure" Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics Nominated
Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement for "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" Nominated
2009 Stu Smiley, James Bobin, Troy Miller, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Tracey Baird and Anna Dozoka for Flight of the Conchords Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
James Bobin, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie for "Prime Minister" Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series Nominated
James Bobin, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement for "Carol Brown" Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics Nominated
2019 Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement for "Father & Son" Nominated
Grammy Awards 2007 Flight of the Conchords for The Distant Future Best Comedy Album Won [26]
2008 Flight of the Conchords for Flight of the Conchords Nominated
2010 Flight of the Conchords for I Told You I Was Freaky Nominated
2012 Bret McKenzie for "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated
Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2014 Bret McKenzie for "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)" Best Original Song in a Feature Film Nominated
New Zealand Film Awards 2012 Bret McKenzie in Two Little Boys Best Actor Nominated
New Zealand Music Awards 2008 Flight of the Conchords for Flight of the Conchords Album of the Year Won
Best Group Won
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Won
Flight of the Conchords International Achievement Won
2013 Flight of the Conchords for "Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That)" Highest Selling New Zealand Single Won
Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards 2008 Flight of the Conchords Funniest Duo Nominated
Satellite Awards 2007 Flight of the Conchords Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy Nominated
2009 Nominated
2011 "Life's a Happy Song" from The Muppets Best Original Song Nominated
"Man or Muppet" from The Muppets Nominated
2014 "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)" from Muppets Most Wanted Nominated
TCA Awards 2008 Flight of the Conchords Outstanding Achievement in Comedy Nominated
Outstanding New Program Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards 2007 Damon Beesley, James Bobin, Jemaine Clement, Eric Kaplan, Bret McKenzie, Iain Morris, Duncan Sarkies, Pauls Simms, and Taika Waititi for Flight of the Conchords Comedy Series Nominated [27]
New Series Nominated
James Bobin, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie for "Sally Returns" Episodic Comedy Nominated


Year Title Character Format Notes
2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Elf Escort[28] Feature film Commonly known as "Figwit".
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Elf Escort " [28] Feature film
2007–2009 Flight of the Conchords Himself[29] TV series Also creator, co-writer, and executive producer
2008 The Drinky Crow Show Rob, the Alien TV series 2 episodes
2009 Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Tim's Tennis Double TV series Episode: "Tennis"
2009 Diagnosis Death Dr. Cruise Film
2010–2021 The Simpsons Kurt Hardwick TV series Episode: "Elementary School Musical"[9]
Songwriter for the episodes "Elementary School Musical", "Friend with Benefit" and "Panic on the Streets of Springfield"
2011 The Muppets Feature Film Music supervisor and writer of original songs[30]
Academy Award for Best Original Song
2012 Two Little Boys Nige Feature Film
2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Lindir[28] Feature Film Cameo
2013 Austenland Martin Feature Film
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Feature Film Music supervisor and original songwriter[31][32][33]
2017 Bajillion Dollar Propertie$ Huck TV series Episode: "Looking Forward"
2018 Flight of the Conchords: Live in London Himself TV special Also writer and producer
TBA Bob the Musical Feature Film Songwriter[34]
Moonland[35] Writer, songwriter
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas[36]




The Black Seeds

Main article: The Black Seeds discography

Flight of the Conchords

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra in 2008 outside Delux Cafe in Wellington. McKenzie on the far left.

Main article: Flight of the Conchords discography

Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra


  1. ^ Indicates the year of ceremony. Each year is linked to the article about the awards held that year, wherever possible.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Giant leap for Bret McKenzie". Stuff. 3 March 2012.
  2. ^ "Bret's McKenzie's biggest fans". Stuff. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Sexiest Man Living 2007". Salon. 15 November 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  4. ^ Vernon, Polly (8 March 2008). "The accidental sex gods". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  5. ^ Barlow, Helen. "Interview: Jemaine Clement in People, Places, Things". SBS Movies.
  6. ^ "Peter McKenzie". GCM Artist Management. Archived from the original on 26 September 2020. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  7. ^ "Flight Of The Conchords' Bret McKenzie talks his role in 'The Hobbit' | NME". NME Music News. 7 January 2012. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
  8. ^ Catanzariti, Katelyn (9 December 2010). "Hamish Blake to star with Bret McKenzie in Sarkies' Two Little Boys". The Daily Telegraph (Sydney). News Corporation. Retrieved 9 December 2010.
  9. ^ a b Strachan, Alex (2 August 2010). "Gleeful over Glee: Cory Monteith to appear on The Simpsons". Archived from the original on 28 October 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  10. ^ "The Black Seeds". NZ On Screen. 29 August 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  11. ^ "The Black Seeds: 20 years on". NZ Herald. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Video Kid". Archived from the original on 9 June 2004. Retrieved 24 November 2005.
  13. ^ "WIUO - The Orchestra". Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  14. ^ Oliver, Henry (16 November 2018). "Bret McKenzie on Strange Caravan, his new band that isn't a band and isn't his". The Spinoff. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Conchords star flies south". Stuff. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  16. ^ Satellite Award for Best Original Song
  17. ^ Tailor, Leena (4 April 2014). "Bret McKenzie's most wanted". NZ Herald.
  18. ^ "The Sainsbury's Christmas ad has landed and it comes with a few surprises". 14 November 2016.
  19. ^ a b "Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie Plans Debut Solo Album". SPIN. 11 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  20. ^ Lewis, Rebecca (22 March 2009). "Bride of the Conchord - Bret marries childhood sweetheart". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  21. ^ "Conchord has wings clipped". Fairfax New Zealand. 20 March 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  22. ^ Smith, Jacqueline (5 November 2009). "Fatherhood keeps 'Conchords' stars busy". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 8 November 2009.
  23. ^ "Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee honours list 2012". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  24. ^ "Flight of the Conchords". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Flight of the Conchords". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Grammy Award Results for Bret McKenzie". Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  27. ^ "Conchords miss out on awards". 31 January 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  28. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (4 April 2011). "'Conchords' star McKenzie an elf in 'The Hobbit'". Variety. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  29. ^ Vernon, Polly (9 February 2008). "The accidental sex gods". The Observer. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  30. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (17 November 2011). "On Composing for Kermit the Frog". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
  31. ^ Weintraub, Steve (5 November 2012). "THE MUPPETS Sequel Update: Filming Begins in Late January at Pinewood Studios in London; Bret McKenzie Writing New Songs". Collider. Demand Media Entertainment. Archived from the original on 6 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  32. ^ Fritz, Ben (15 January 2013). "Disney cancels 'Little Mermaid 3-D,' dates 'Pirates 5' for 2015". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  33. ^ Kit, Borys (8 January 2013). "Tina Fey in Talks to Join Disney's 'Muppets' Sequel (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  34. ^ Kit, Borys (27 July 2015). "Michael Chabon to Write Disney's 'Bob the Musical' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  35. ^ Crittenton, Anya (8 August 2016). "BRET MCKENZIE OF FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS WRITING FANTASY FILM FOR WARNER BROS. (EXCLUSIVE)". The Tracking Board. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  36. ^ "Bret McKenzie to Develop New Film Adaptation of 'Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas'". Film Music Reporter. 21 October 2019.
  37. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 5 September 2022. Retrieved 3 September 2022.