‘High Rollers’ designed to hook

2013-03-25 00:00

“HE’S just a guy trying to keep his family together,” says veteran South African actor Anthony Coleman of his character, David King, the ruthless head of a family business in SABC3’s new local drama series High Rollers.

Airing at 8.30 pm on Tuesday, April 2, the series pits brother against brother in the game of life, business and family, all set against the glamorous world of a Johannesburg casino.

Coleman has starred in Binnelanders, Wild at Heart, Snitch seasons one and two, Madam & Eve and the film Blood Diamond. He said he was having a lot of fun playing David, who runs the King’s Casino and Hotel complex with his trusted right-hand man, Thato “TT” Mogale (Fezile Mpela).

“He’s a really interesting character,” the actor said, “David is very threatened by his brother [Paul] and essentially stole his brother’s life.

He married his brother’s girlfriend and the whole casino idea was actually his brother’s. He stole it when his brother went to jail and ran with it.”

Paul, played by Justin Strydom, is a volatile ex-con who has decided to clean up his life with the aid of his newfound religious faith.

But instead of bringing about a reconciliation with Paul, his release from prison sends the King family into a tailspin, exposing raw nerves and unresolved questions around the fateful night when patriarch Charles King was mysteriously murdered.

And then there’s the question of which brother Analine King (Rolanda Marais) will choose. Will she stay with her estranged husband, David, with whom she has three children — teenagers Ben (Vilje Maritz) and Linkie (Danielle Retief) and the bright but sickly, Marcus (Kieran Prigge) — or will she choose Paul, the man she once loved?

Adding another element to this tense situation is Paul and David’s mother, Helena King (Brumilda van Rensburg), the shrewd matriarch who manipulates her sons like an expert puppeteer. She owns the land on which the casino is located, and she’s not afraid to play this important chip when the circumstances merit it.

The main characters are rounded out by TT, David’s childhood friend and the public face of King’s casino, and his gorgeous wife, Gugu (Xolile Tshabalala).

TT, a farmworker’s child, was taken into the King household and raised as one of their own. He sees it as his personal responsibility to pull the family back together.

His wife, meanwhile, gives the casino’s high rollers whatever they want, but is unable to give TT the one thing he wants — a child.

Coleman told The Witness that one of the biggest reasons he was attracted to High Rollers was the quality of the writing delivered by Erfsondes’ headwriter Henriëtta Gryffenberg and her team.

“The writing reminded me of Snitch, which I loved. The stories are really good,” he added.

As for his co-stars, Coleman said he was enjoying working with Strydom again — the pair were co-stars on Snitch — and is relishing the chance to work with veteran actress Van Rensburg. “I’ve never worked with Brumilda before, but she really is great to work with. In fact everyone is. It’s a very talented cast,” he added.

Created by the Rous House Productions team of producing and directing brothers, Luke and Josh Rous (Semi Soet, Ga Re Dumele, Gauteng Maboneng and City Ses’la), each one-hour episode was shot both in studio and on location at Emperor’s Palace, giving it a very glitzy feel.

Says Luke Rous: “We envisaged the casino as a metaphor for life and how we gamble on a daily basis with love, religion and family.

“Of course, the central focus is on the human drama and the inter-personal dynamics at play, with the characters’ vices and ambition threatening to destroy their lives and those of their loved ones.

“Our aim was to craft a dynastic family saga with strong, well-drawn characters that hook the viewer and reel them into the unfolding drama.”

• High Rollers is on SABC3 at 8.30 pm on April 2.

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