Elysium Premiere Prompts Visit to The Africa Channel
Sony Pictures’ South African directed Elysium topped the August 7th box office earnings with $30.5 million, according to Studio estimates. The $115 million action film starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster beat three wide-release competitors: Warner Bros’ We’re the Millers, Disney’s Planes and Fox’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
The science fiction thriller is the second blockbuster from director Neill Blomkamp, whose District 9 earned $37.4 million opening weekend in August of 2009.
Both of Blomkamp’s films feature actors that The Africa Channel viewers have come to know from favorite dramas Jacob’s Cross and Isidingo.
Former Isidingo star Brandon Auret, who played beloved character Detective Du Plessis for eight years, landed a small role in Elysium and was in town for the star-studded premiere. Viewers will recall the ups and downs “Dup” faced in his relationships with Tanya and, before that, Joey Ortlepp. Joey’s soap brother Kyle Ortlepp (Owen Meyer) joined Brandon during his visit to The Africa Channel.
Both actors remain close friends, even though Owen has left South Africa and currently resides in Florida.
Brandon shared some behind-the-scenes details about filming Elysium, which was shot in Mexico and Vancouver, Canada. Apparently, working on this feature film required a powerful constitution. “We literally worked near a river of poo,” shared Brandon in describing the film’s location on a Mexican refuse site. For two weeks the actors endured a setting reminiscent, Brandon says, of South Africa’s poorer townships. “People were living on this toxic dump site, and it was hard to fathom.”
Still, the location provided the film with the look of a ruined Earth in the year 2154, and Brandon praised Blomkamp’s vision and passion for creating the futuristic story with a realism evoked by such stark settings as the one in Mexico.
Brandon originally auditioned for another, larger role that he did not get, but Blomkamp’s office called him back to play a smaller role, which he readily accepted. Having worked with the director before on District 9, Brandon was eager to join another of his projects. “Blomkamp is a great director with so many stories to tell,” said Brandon, who is set to appear in the director’s next work as well.
Visiting The Africa Channel’s offices with Brandon, Owen Meyer shared stories from their Isidingo days and what he is working on now. Though they had not seen each other in a while, the two conveyed a relaxed friendship developed over their years working together on the popular drama. “We always called him ‘Dup,’ (pronounced ‘up’) even off set,” Owen said of Brandon. The two laughed about some of the storylines, while agreeing that the writing was strong and provided them with the opportunity to develop their talents as dramatic actors.
Owen has remained busy appearing in the Emmy Award-winning TV series Burn Notice, and before that, feature films SPOON, Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond and Pain and Gain.
When asked, ‘what does Africa offer western audiences?’ Owen said, “Culture! Culture! Culture!” He explained that Africa has “something that is very unique and still very raw, sometimes scary to an outsider, but so important to us as Africans. Even white South Africans. It’s our heritage and we love being African.”
Brandon strongly agreed and both actors are excited about the global attention Africa is receiving as a result of blockbuster films with Africans at the helm. With Blomkamp’s growing track record, we will look forward to his next work and to seeing the talents of Brandon on the big screen. And we’ll share news of Owen’s next project soon.
Look for your favorite Africa Channel characters from Jacob’s Cross and Isidingo!