Spud comes to life

By admin
30 May 2010

The kiwi-green 1973 Dacia 1300 not only seems as if it’s in the wrong millennium it looks seriously out of its element when it passes through the impressive decorative-stone entrance.

A smartly dressed guard jumps out of the skedonk’s way, salutes the bald guy behind the wheel and watches with amusement as a huge backfire sends sparks shooting from the exhaust.

Then the camera crew stops filming and the people watching from the road burst into spontaneous laughter.

They, and YOU, have come to Michaelhouse boys’ school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to watch the filming of the first scenes of Spud: The Movie. And it’s as if the kiwi-green wreck has driven straight out of the pages of the popular book and onto the school grounds.

The book does not specify Spud went to school at Michaelhouse but that’s where the author of the popular Spud series, John van de Ruit, spent his schooldays.

Spud fans won’t be disappointed. It’s easy to name each of the characters even before they have said a word and every building and room looks as Van de Ruit described them. The movie couldn’t be more true to life if it tried.

Five years ago Ross Garland, an old student friend of Van de Ruit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, was returning to Durban after a business meeting in Johannesburg when he spotted the first book and knew the novel was perfect for a film.

The contract was signed. Then the search for suitable actors began. One thing was certain: they wanted a big international name to play Spud’s favourite teacher, The Guv. He had to be British, just like the character in the novel. And who would be better for the part than brilliant John Cleese?

“He’s just as funny in real life and is always teasing someone,” co-producer Brad Logan says.

Troye Sivan (14), the South African-born actor now based in Australia who plays Spud, also sings Cleese’s praises.

“I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say this but when John struggles to remember his lines he writes them on a slip of paper and sticks it up on set where the camera can’t see it,” he says.

The blue-eyed boy recently made his Hollywood debut in the latest X-Men movie, Wolverine, and was ecstatic when he won his first lead role.

Roll on November so we can see it.

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