Captivating local actress lands Hollywood role

2009-12-26 13:20

Renate Stuurman, a familiar face on local TV, has landed a recurring role in the ­series The Prisoner, writes FARRAH FRANCIS.

RENATE Stuurman is a familiar face to South African TV audiences. Her pretty dimpled face has featured in numerous local shows including 7de Laan, Backstage, Isidingo, JoziH, Scandal and The Lab.

Now the actress has cracked the international stage with a role in the first season of the American sci-fi series, The Prisoner, which airs on M-Net on Wednesday nights.

It was all down to sheer luck, says the actress. “My agent asked me if I’d like to audition for the character 21-16. When I got the script I was like ‘what is going on here!’ But I think that was part of the appeal. Trying to unravel the mystery of the show,” says Stuurman in a voice laced with an American twang.

The series is a recreation of the popular 1960’s show of the same name. It centres around a British spy held captive by a small seaside village after he resigns from his job.

The confusion comes in because characters are not referred to by names but rather by numbers. The series is similar to the successful Lost series and follows the same premise of jumping back and forth between past and present.

The Prisoner was shot in Namibia while Stuurman worked on the SABC3 business drama The Lab.

The actress was flown in between sets to do both shows: “It was hectic doing both shows at the same time but I managed. Working on The Prisoner with Sir Ian Mckellen (Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings) was so strange because it was like ‘okay let’s have dinner tonight’ and the whole cast and crew would go to his place and he’d cook for us.

“He would walk around in his cow print Wellington boots and my co-star Jessica Heyes (from Disgrace) and I would be wondering if this is really happening,” she says.

“Even more so when I worked with Lennie James (Snatch) and he told us stories about his former co-star Brad Pitt. I found that the actors were professional. I never felt like I was below them in any way.”

With the uproar around the news that Jennifer Hudson would play Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in an upcoming film, Stuurman is forthcoming about her views on ­local ­stories being told by foreign actors.

“I honestly feel that only we can tell our stories. These stories are ingrained in us and we sort of own them as South Africans.
“Often with international films, the parts of South African actors are so small. I think there are so many local actresses who are good enough to play Winnie but at the end of the day the financial backing is not there to produce these big scale movies even though I think that we are as good as the rest of the world.

“We simply can’t make a big-scale film of an international standard.”  

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