With the release of Vehicle 19 on 9 August 2013, SAMDB had the opportunity to speak to cast member, and ‘bad guy’ Gys De Villiers, who plays Detective Smith.
Gys, you’ve been a prescence on our screens for a while now, from South African classics like Boetie Gaan Border Toe, to the recent Jimmy In Pienk. Many of your roles take on a position of authority; someone in the military, the police, or a doctor. Where does your heart lie? In comedy or drama? Or does each genre have its merits?
My heart lies in Drama more, also because those are the parts that have come my way more. Comedy is a very difficult genre and I do not think us South Africans have cracked it in film or TV. On stage we get it right. I would still have to learn a lot before I can think to be a comic.
You’ve had the opportunity to observe how South African television and cinema have changed over the years. Where do you see it going in the future?
I would hope that the budgets can get bigger so as to allow us more creative time on the floor. It is usually such a rush just to get it in the can, because the producers also want to make their profit, that there is very little time to explore. I would also like mentorship to play a bigger role. Now with new technology any youngster can pick up a camera and have a go at it, but I would love it if they ask older more established people to show them the way.
Detective Smith and Buks / Frederique will both be on our screens shortly, and yet seem like total opposites. What process do you go through before a role? How do you prepare for a role such as the corrupt Detective Smith? Tell us a bit about Detective Smith.
I try to read up about subjects and of course now the script inside out. But as an actor I deal in emotions and that is what the audience sees. So with the script, my director and fellow actors, I try to be true in every moment and build the story moment by moment. Detective Smith is a small part, but he represents quite a large group of people. He is a scared individual, he is scared of losing his position, his right to exist, and he is scared of change. He is corrupt and vicious. He is desperate. He is an arsehole.
What of yourself do you bring to your roles? And what is your dream role?
I bring my own wealth of life experience. I bring my honesty, my passion and my commitment.
South African film is constantly improving as we see more local productions reaching the international market. Are we on the right track to continue this great trend?
Yes we are on the right track, what I find most heart-warming is that we are making different genre movie. Be it Wovedance, Ferraaiers, Blits patrollie, Material or Sleepers Wake. All very different and all good enough for the international market.
We’ll be seeing you later this year in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, and on TV in the mini-series Dinkerland. What’s next for you?
Yes in Long Walk I played former president FW DE Klerk, this was a wonderful experience. Idris did a sterling job of portraying Mandela and this made us all rise to the occasion. In Donkerland I play a patriarch of a clan, this too was a wonderful experience, being part of a historical Drama, was right up my street. Right now I am shooting on a new series for SABC called Geraamtes in die kas, this is like In therapy and deals with psychologists and their patience. I am also touring a one man show called Wit Manne Se Wapens. This is a translation of White Men with Weapons written by Greig Coetzee. We are going to festivals, this piece is helping people to heal their wound on the old army days.
Any advice for those entering the industry?
Learn to make your own work. Be courage’s and bold. Work hard, stay humble and be kind to crew.