Wagga’s Greg Smith has become an accidental internet sensation.
You see, it turns out that Mr Smith, the hugely popular former principal of South Wagga Public School, actually starred as the live-action version of a world-weary mercenary in the blockbuster video game Resident Evil.
Fans have spent years trying to track down the “Gregory” credited with playing the role back in the 1990s, and it was a photo of Mr Smith in The Daily Advertiser that finally helped game lovers to find their elusive hero.
At least one fan has posted a clip on YouTube on his search to find the bearded redhead who played Barry Burton in the 1996 game, and how the task was made difficult because Mr Smith’s voice was dubbed with that of Barry Gjerde, who also voiced the computer-animated game images.
The fans’ search to find the unintentionally elusive Mr Smith is almost as remarkable as how he came to play an action hero in the first place.
Mr Smith and his family were in Tokyo in 1995 as part of a teacher exchange program, and one evening he was simply strolling suburban streets when he was approached by a talent scout.
“If I had been an hour later, or 10 minutes earlier, it may never have happened,” he said.
After establishing that the talent scout was genuine, Mr Smith agreed to take part in a short film shoot, for which he was paid $US1500 a day.
Over two days, Mr Smith and the other live-action actors filmed scenes both inside and out.
“The second day – or night actually – was a lot more fun,” he said.
“They took us out somewhere and we had to pretend to run through the jungle and fire pistols and machine guns.
“I was supposed to be this mercenary who was older than the others, but the reliable one.
“In the story, there were supposed to be wild dogs, but the Dobermans were really gentle and friendly, which was funny.”
After that initial role, Mr Smith was offered other parts during his time in Japan.
“I was a pro-wrestler and a cop and had a few other roles,” he said.
“The money I earned was enough to buy my first Harley.”
After returning to Wagga, Mr Smith did not think much more about the filming and, apart from once being asked by some boys if he had ever been in a video game, did not hear much more about it.
Finding out that he was an internet sensation, with fans desperately trying to find their elusive hero, was a shock.
“Now, I’m getting messages and Skype calls from all over the world,” he said.
“People are asking for my autograph and I have been invited to appear at conventions. But it was just a fluke.”