COMEBACK KID: Arno Marais returns to SABC3’s Isidingo… a little more grown-up than before.
In 2009, Arno Marais took over as Isidingo’s resident bad guy from Len Cooper (played by Chris Beasley).

If there was any sort of trouble on The Deep, his character, Benjamin le Roux, was involved in it somehow. It is apt to call him reckless; he rejected the idea of playing by the rules.

At the pinnacle of success as this rising soapie star, he was involved in a car accident in which a person from the other vehicle died.

Suffice it to say, the accident temporarily derailed his career and the emotional fallout of it weighed heavily on the actor, who sank into depression.

When he returned to Isidingo, months later, it was short-lived and his character was given an open-ended exit.

What has been going on with Marais since he shied away from the spotlight?

Tonight caught up with him while he was in Kalk Bay.

He says: “I did Die Boekklub when I left Isidingo. I went through quite a tough time. Things happen in life that are out of your control. Then I did Sokhulu and Partners. I was in 7de Laan for a couple of episodes.

“I didn’t have a car for a year. It wasn’t easy. Now I’ve come back to Isidingo, which is fantastic.”

It’s been two years since he was last seen in the show.

On being approached to resume his role, he says: “I was home with my mum and my agent phoned to say Isidingo wanted me back. I was like: ‘That’s awesome’. We filmed some stuff at the end of November and again in January.”

Much has changed since his absence from the set, so what can fans expect from Benjamin this time around?

He says: “He has a business partner now - Ofentse. Ben obviously has his own interests, but the two of them just click. Much of the storyline is about how they reach new heights. They take on a lot.”

Marais is also chuffed to see Aubrey Poo on set. Aside from admiring his professionalism as an actor, they go way back, having studied together at Tshwane University of Technology.

Marais says his character is reining in that reckless streak. He recalls a funny behind-the-scenes scene.

“The first scene I did was with Robert Whitehead, who plays Barker. I remember I had a cup of tea in my hand and I wasted it on my shirt because I was shaking. I was so nervous. But it’s great to be back with my ‘family’.”

What are some of the other things keeping him busy?

Marais says: “I’m shooting Die Boekklub 2. Then I’m going back to Isidingo. I play a gay Afrikaans farmer. It’s not comedic. It’s worth watching if you have an open mind. It certainly challenges the actor within me. I love playing characters who are different to me.”

Marais, who has a new girlfriend, says: “She studied with me actually. I’ve known her for 11 years.”