This is the first look at Kiwi actor Matt Whelan as a dapper young Hugh Hefner in a new, big-money US television series charting the Playboy chief’s colourful life.
Whelan stars as the bunny-girl-loving magazine boss in his younger days in upcoming 13-part documentary series American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story.
The series, made by entertainment giant Amazon Prime, starts streaming on April 7. It draws on 17,000-plus hours of archival footage and Hefner’s own 2600 scrapbooks.
Producers promise “never-before-told” stories via first-person interviews with the 90-year-old publisher and his family.
Whelan bears a striking resemblance to pipe-smoking bon vivant Hefner in his prime during re-enactments.
“When I started Playboy magazine in 1953, I couldn’t imagine the incredible journey that was to follow and that Playboy would have such a significant voice in the discussion of our ever-changing culture,” Hefner said of the series.
“I’m pleased that this docu-series will help serve as a reminder of where we’ve been and how we’ve evolved as a society, but more importantly my hope is that it will inspire others to pursue their dreams.”
The series was secretly filmed in Auckland last year.
However, one of the show’s extras was told to expect “plenty of nudity” on set during production.
Whelan could not be reached for comment as he is in Colombia filming the third series of Netflix smash Narcos — about cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Whelan plays a young American DEA agent named Daniel Van Ness, who arrives in Colombia shortly after Escobar’s death.