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Our Chat with Arnold Vosloo

Hollywood Star returns to SA to Star in Real Life Crime Film.

by Louw Mulder

Internationally recognized, South African actor Arnold Vosloo, returned home from Hollywood, to feature in the latest local Afrikaans feature film, Griekwastad due for release early May, on DSTV Box Office.

Based on the bestselling true crime novel by journalist Jacques Steenkamp, who closely followed the case of the Griekwastad family murders that took place in April 2012, Vosloo, stars as Dick de Waal, the detective who solves the puzzle.

Internationally acclaimed Vosloo granted us the opportunity for an interesting Q&A:

How did it come about that you agreed to be cast in a South African Feature film again?

Producers Tim Theron and Cobus van den Berg, contacted me via my sister, Nadia Vosloo, who is in charge of my South African affairs.  I read the Griekwastad script and immediately said yes.  It was really good and the fact that it was in Afrikaans was a bonus! I miss South Africa always and Afrikaans especially.

Before returning to SA for the filming, what did you expect from the production side, and how did this perception change after the filming was concluded?

Joz Malherbe, the Director, told me early on in the process that the crew would be small and handpicked by him due to a very low budget – so I knew that going in. The good news is that we had rehearsal time before we rolled. That helped a lot because all questions were answered off set. Production was hard as we had crew doing two jobs but it went smoothly and the South African crew did great as always.  Whenever I meet foreign directors they always hail the work ethic of the South African based movie crews! 

 What was your final thoughts after seeing the final version for the first time?

Seeing the final cut of the film was very emotional for me because I had wanted for so long do a movie in Afrikaans again.

Impressed with the production myself, it is a pity that Covid-19 restrictions disallow Griekwastad’s release on the Big Screen currently.  How do you feel about a film of this nature being released to a Video on Demand Service?  Do you think the theatrical value will maintain its effectiveness?

I have no problem with the release of this film direct to Video on Demand.  It is the way all content will go in the future.  In fact, I pushed for it when the virus hit because it made sense to give people stuck at home something to watch.  Having said that, I would love to see it on a big screen and without subtitles that (to me) spoil the frame.  When I get back to SA later this year I will try to make a screening like that happen.

Have you ever followed the growth of Afrikaans Movie Industry whilst living in Los Angeles?

I attended the Silver Skerm Fees this year for the first time. The energy and spirit was truly an eye opener.  My sister fills me in every now and again but I had not been following the local Afrikaans scene. To see it blossoming and thriving now, is encouraging.

In Griekwastad, you played with some of our Veterans again like Lida Botha.  How was your experience and thoughts on our newer and younger talent that played with you? 

Working with all the SA talent was a wonderful experience. Actors are givers and this cast gave it their all, from the oldest to the youngest cast member.  Everybody pitched in and carried each other in the difficult scenes. The young actors were a revelation and I told them that a film like this comes along rarely and that they should embrace the process. 

What are your thoughts on young Jane de Wet and especially Alex van Dyk, playing alongside you as the Griekwastad murderer? 

Jane and Alex are the heart of the story and they were great.  Alex has all the tools to become a professional actor and future film maker and if he chooses that life he will be successful.

It was said during an interview with Alex van Dyk, that he has idolised you since your success in The Mummy.  Do you have any words of motivation, advice, or encouragements for him, and young actors like him, who are embarking on acting as a career? 

My advice to our young talent in SA would be to work in the industry here. The USA is not the centre of the film world.  Hollywood sounds glamorous and it is for about 5 seconds, but then it is the same old struggle to get ahead of the next guy.  It is easy for me to say stay and work there because I scratched the itch to go to Hollywood and found success.  But, I would say stay in SA and work towards building a thriving local movie scene. 

You mostly get to play the parts of villains and bad guys –  but in Griekwastad, you portray the role of a non-fictional character. How do you approach a role like this, compared to the role of a fictional character? 

I have never had to portray a real or living person. I chose not to meet the real Dick de Waal up front because I come to the story with my own baggage as Arnold Vosloo.  Audiences know how I sound and look and I did not want to do anything to detract from that. I did not want the audience to be distracted by a “performance”.  My job was to be the vessel through which the audience discovers the twists and turns of the story. It is very hard to do nothing when the director says action but I had to contain myself for this film. If this was a film of another sort then I could have done something different, but because the story and people are so well known by South Africans, I had to chill in the role. 

Were you aware of the Griekwastad Murders?  Did it influence your decision to agree to this role? 

I had never heard of the Griekwastad saga and it was not a factor in choosing to be part of the film.  The script was King and Tertius Kapp wrote a good one and that was the reason to do this film.

Would you return to South Africa to star in more movies, especially because of Hollywood not producing Afrikaans Features? I guess I am asking, did the Afrikaans bug bite?

Having worked in South Africa in Afrikaans, has turned me off working in the US.  I have no more real motivation to work at my craft in the USA anymore.  I am 57 years old now and all I would like to do is work in Afrikaans.   I am not sure what the future holds for me professionally but I wish and hope for it to be in South Africa.  Viva Afrikaans, my mother tongue! 

Do you have any recent success stories, or major achievements back in the US, of which South Africans may not be aware of, or may not have heard of?

The last TV series I worked on was Season 2 of Jack Ryan with John Krasinksi as the lead.  It is on Amazon.

Do you have any final words for the SA Audiences who will be watching Griekwastad? 

To the audience in SA I would like to say that “Griekwastad” was executed by us to the best of our abilities.   We are very proud to share it with you and we look forward to feedback and the reaction after experiencing it.

The prospects sound promising to see more of Arnold Vosloo in locally produced films, but for now, you can see him back in SA, playing in his Mother tongue, when Griekwastad releases on DSTV Box Office, on 5 May 2020.  If you are not a DSTV subscriber, you can still catch it on https://boxoffice.dstv.com/

About Louw Mulder

Editor At Stage and Screen

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