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Van Der Merwe

The legend comes to life!

by Nicole van Blerk

Erica Wessels has acted in Hitchhiker, Primeval, The Good Life, The Devil's Whore, Angel and Everyone's Taxi, to name a few.Van der Merwe – The Iconic South African character that holds a special place in all our hearts and minds.  The character that has evolved through countless jokes, anecdotes and campfire stories of his legendary buffoonery. A character we love and know, yet have never seen or heard. A character that never actually existed… but what if such a character did actually does? Well that’s what this movie, Van der Merwe, is about”, says Bruce Lawley, the film’s writer, director and producer.

Lawley first wrote the screenplay back in 2005, with the idea to create a film about a single character, much like Ace Ventura or Derek Zoolander, but with a South African twist. Van der Merwe was the natural fit as Lawley realized that there were younger generations of South Africans who were growing up without knowing who Van der Merwe was. He also wanted to write a film that would capture a younger market. Lawley originally wrote the script with the late Bill Flynn in mind for the title role, but it never came to fruition while he was alive.

The title role of Van der Merwe, or “Van” as he is affectionately known, is played by comedic genius Rob van Vuuren. He got the look just right, wearing a fat suit to create the ‘boep’ under his Safari suit, even shaving his head to create a receding hairline. When asked what it was like to play the role of this South African Icon, van Vuuren said: “It was a huge honour, a little daunting, but Bruce put together an incredible cast of actors, and that made me feel safe, allowed me to play and have fun in the role. It was important for me to make Van der Merwe believable and show that he was not just a joke, but that he was a person with a heart, hopes and fears too.”

With over 40 screen acting credits to his name Greg Kriek is an award-winning actor.This slapstick comedy aims to bring the character of Van der Merwe to life, and show that there is more to Van der Merwe than just the jokes. The story takes place on the Van der Merwe family farm, when Van der Merwe’s daughter, Marike, played by Reine Swart, returns from England, engaged to an Englishman, George Stokes as acted out by Matthew Baldwin. The news does not go down well with the Van der Merwe clan as Van’s father, Ian Roberts, does not approve of the union between Brit and Boer! Van der Merwe finds himself in a predicament, as he tries to come to terms with his daughter wanting to marry an Englishman while his father is breathing down his neck to end the engagement! When George’s family arrives on the farm to help with the wedding plans the cultural clashes begin, leading to some hilarious comedic scene’s and cringe worthy moments, interspersed with some classic Van der Merwe jokes. The cast includes other well know names like Barry Hilton, Andre Jacobs, Rika Sennet, Louw Venter, Erika Wessels, Melt Sieberhagen and Neels van Jaarsveld.

The film is produced by Craig Jones, Bruce MacDonald, Murray MacDonald, Bruce Lawley and is available in a cinema near you from 28 July 2017.

But wait, that’s not all! If your surname is Van der Merwe then you can stand a chance to win tickets to see Van der Merwe at Ster-Kinekor. Just fill in your details here: http://bit.ly/2u8Rl4v


This review was edited by David Simmons, Photos by Nico van Blerk

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