This article was first published during the 2019 Silwerskerm Festival where the film, Griekwastad premiered.
It's been more than 30 years since renowned actor Arnold Vosloo has been in an Afrikaans film in his home country.
In 2019 he returned to play the leading role in the movie Griekwastad, which is based on the 2012 murders of Deon and Christel and their daughter, Marthella Steenkamp. In 2014 their son Deon- who was 15 at the time of their murders - was found guilty of the brutal killing.
The 57-year-old plays Colonel Dick De Waal, the investigating officer of the case.
The film which released on DStv box office on Tuesday, 5 May had its premiere at the 9th annual Silwerskerm Festival.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
Ahead of the film's premiere, Arnold spoke to the press about what drew him to the film, acting in his mother tongue, and the importance of local film festivals.
'I WANTED TO COME BACK AND DO SOMETHING IN AFRIKAANS'
"I wanted to come back and do something in Afrikaans specifically. I work in the US where I play 'vuilgat' Afrikaners in English films, which is fine. And then came this wonderful script."
What drew Arnold to this movie was that it was very well written, he explains: "I got about 2 or 3 scripts in the past 4 or 5 years and they weren't good. I didn't want to come back just to work in Afrikaans. It was because this script was good. I didn't know the case. I didn't know it was such a big story and only found out afterwards when I told my family that I was going to be working on this film."
On whether he will come back to do another film, he jokes that this is his first and last Afrikaans film, not because it was a bad experience but that he will not be able to top this one: "It's a 'blêddie' good film!"
Arnold still keeps abreast with news and current affairs in South Africa, saying: "I read News24 every day. So, I'm watching you."
'WITH AFRIKAANS THERE IS NO FILTER FOR ME'
Arnold wanted to do an Afrikaans film not only because it is his mother tongue, but because with Afrikaans, there is no filter for him, and he can express himself better emotionally.
"If I say 'I like you' in English it means one thing. But, when I say 'Ek hou van jou' in Afrikaans, then I feel it in my ballas!"
(FAMILY: Arnold Vosloo with his family at the premiere of Griekwastad)
'I WAS WORRIED THAT I WAS GOING TO SOUND WEIRD'
The biggest challenge for Arnold was speaking Afrikaans, which he hardly speaks in California as his wife is American. The only time he does speak some of his mother tongue is on the telephone with his mom and sister.
"I was worried that I was going to sound weird. I listened to Radio Sonder Grense online for hours to hear Afrikaans in my ear over-and-over."
On preparing for the role, Arnold says he didn't want to meet the real Dick De Waal, but what did help him a lot was his diary and his notes on the case.
"He was so meticulous," he goes on to explain, "For example he wrote down how many seconds it takes to get to the gate, to walk to the barn. It helped me a lot to know that he had that kind of brain."
Speaking about his thoughts on the case itself, Arnold mentions something he said on set: "What happened in that pink house?"
"One of the interesting things is that 171 DNA samples were taken in the house and on the farm, and it was just the father, mother, daughter and the son. No one else. Not a friend, not a helper. What happened in that pink house? It was more interesting than the character. Why he did it doesn't matter, but he did it."
'THE PERFECT CHILD WAS CAST'
16-year-old Alex van Dyk stars alongside Arnold as Don Steenkamp. The grade 10 pupil from Durbanville made his acting debut in the critically acclaimed movie Die Stropers (The Harvesters) which won the award for Best Cinematographay at last year's festival.
Arnold has high praise for his co-star, "He is a wonderful young man; I think he is going to have an amazing career if he wants it."
"I can't remember who said it; casting is everything. In Alex's case, Josh [director] cast the perfect child for this role. He is angelic, demonic, pretty and ugly, and everything in 10 seconds. It was a great experience to work with him."
(A BRIGHT NEW STAR: Alex van Dyk at the premiere of Alex van Dyk at the premiere of Griekwastad)
ON THE FILM'S INTERNATIONAL APPEAL
For Arnold, a good film will transcend boundaries and says that while the film isn't commercial, it has an indie appeal.
"And that's where the value lies. I don't think the Americans see a lot of Afrikaans films shot beautifully at a farm and see how our people interact with each other. I think these things will be interesting and the whodunit aspect."
'FESTIVALS LIKE THIS GIVE BIRTH TO NEW AFRIKAANS FILMMAKERS'
Film festivals like these are very important for the growth of the industry says Arnold. He further explains, "The director of this film Jozua Malherbe was discovered through this festival, he made a film and Cobus and Tracey [producers] saw it and liked it then and choose him for this film. This festival was the seed, which gives birth to new Afrikaans filmmakers."
(THE TEAM: The cast and crew at the premiere of Griekwastad)
BAR ONE. A STONEY. AND FEELING THE WEATHER
The first thing Arnold does when he lands in the country is to buy a Stoney Ginger Beer and a Bar One - these are some of the things he misses the most.
"When I wake up here, I don't have to turn on the TV or radio to see or hear what the weather is going to be. You feel it because you are part of this place. You feel it on your skin. You know it's going to be cooler or wet or that rain is coming. You just know. I don't have that in the US. I am a stranger. I need to put on the TV for the weather forecast.
"You miss those tangible things. When I woke up on Tuesday morning in Alberton early around 01:00 I listened to 702 for a while, and when light dawned I heard the doves cooing and the birds singing and I got goosebumps. It's so familiar, it takes you back. These are the things that I miss."
SEE MORE PICTURES FROM THE PREMIERE HERE:
(South African film star Arnold Vosloo.)
(Local TV presenter and producer Tracey Lange.)
(Local actor and producer Tim Theron and his wife, Juanli.)
(SA actress, Rolanda Marais)
(Local star Brent Vermeulen and Jana Rabie)
(Arnold Vosloo. Photos: Warren Talmarkes/Channel24)