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While his character is well-known in Hollywood blockbusters, George’s very own Tarzan was given a sombre glimpse into the dark side of South Africa’s past when he was part of the cast of the film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Actor and bodybuilder De Wet du Toit, 26, played two roles – a soldier and a police officer – in the film which premiered in London the day Nelson Mandela died at his Houghton home in Joburg last week.
Du Toit has become a household name after his self-created Tarzan YouTube clip went viral two years ago.
It was created as part of his bid to make his dream of playing Tarzan in a Hollywood remake of the classic come true.
His ultimate goal is to play the lead in director David Yates’s remake of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan, on which filming is expected to begin next year.
Du Toit and his twin brother Rudolf, also an aspiring actor, relocated to Cape Town last year in the hope of furthering their acting careers.
One of their first projects was director Justin Chadwick’s film based on Mandela’s life.
“It was an awesome and unforgettable experience. We were given roles as policemen as well as soldiers.”
“We had weapons training and we were taught how to march in a platoon. We also travelled in police Casspirs and other armoured vehicles, which were pelted with rocks and explosives (during filming). We had to duck down or run alongside the armoured vehicles while shots were fired all over the place,” Du Toit said.
“In one scene I had to drive a police van speeding into a residential area, and then suddenly come to a halt while a car wreck exploded and was engulfed by flames just a few metres away. It was a surreal experience which really happened, and it felt like we were thrown back into that time.”
It was also this realism that left Du Toit shocked when he truly realised the depths of the horrors of apartheid.
“I grew up in a democratic South Africa,” he said.
One of the scenes that made a big impact on Du Toit was the Sharpeville protests.
“We stopped a school bus full of children, and they had to do whatever they could to escape. Police officers had to do whatever we could to arrest protesting children. As soon as the bus stopped, children jumped from the bus, running in all directions. There were stunt guys dressed as children who we had to arrest with force.”
What hit him hardest was the realisation that in 1976 the police officers were not actors, and the children not stuntmen.
Du Toit said that he was honoured to have been part of a project of this calibre, and was deeply saddened by Mandela’s death. - Weekend Argus