“I did pinch myself there, because I was lying under a tree eating wild berries, waiting for my turn to be on set. Just lying there, thinking, ‘wow, this is so nice’.
“My office was beautiful that day. It beats sitting at a 9-to-5 at a desk,” says Deon Lotz (pictured) about working on the set of Sleeper’s Wake, which was shot along the banks of the Umtamvuna River in Port Edward.
Lotz asks that we meet at the Radisson Blu on Cape Town’s waterfront. Turns out it isn’t just the ocean view he’s partial to – he helped to open this hotel 12 years ago, back when it was the Villa Via and he was still in the service industry.
He made the decision to leave that steady job to pursue his acting career, but didn’t think about what it would mean, or where he’d end up working at the time.
“You never think about those things. I’ve been on some wonderful locations. Even with Verraaiers, when we were sitting on Bronk- horstspruit, on that farm. Oh man, it’s great, it’s beautiful.”
He’s also been in some interesting spaces with the commercials he worked on at the beginning of his career.
“You end up having breakfast as the sun rises over the sea, or you sit under a bridge, or somewhere in the middle of town. Everyone’s going to work and you’ve just finished work.”
Home is Cape Town where his family is, but he spends a good amount of time working in Joburg, travelling to theatre festivals and film sets (like having to leave Woordfees earlier than planned this week so he could travel to Joburg to work on the set of Kite with director Ralph Ziman).
While he’s serious about furthering his career, Lotz is not moving out of the Mother City any time soon.
“It’s a flight away from wherever,” he insists.
Lotz says he’s attracted to character studies and finds playing a contemporary real person so much more difficult than a historic figure or fictitious character.
“Investigating a new character, you can create your own person,” he says.
Which character is the closest to who he is off screen? Stern father Abraham Rademan in Roepman, repressed Roelf Venter from Sleeper’s Wake, or maybe a person of strong moral fibre, such as how he played General de la Ray in Verraaiers?
“I try to keep them as far away as possible,” he shudders. “But, my personal choices will influence the character. I try to bring the humanity to the character.”
International exposure via Skoonheid being released in 25 territories around the world, is giving him scope for roles in international films (he was cast in Kite because someone had spotted him playing FW de Klerk in Winnie) and he still receives positive feedback about that role from people around the world, via e-mail.
For the Roelf character in Sleeper’s Wake he read parts of the novel to get some ideas on characterisation:
“It gives me a different perspective on what the original writer wanted to tell with the story and one can often get more information about the characters than what is in the screenplay.”
Still, he likes to make up his own character backgrounds to work with on films.
He explains that Roelf’s biggest problem is that he doesn’t deal with the issue regarding his kids. In the film the family has decamped to fictitious Nature’s Cove (it’s Nature’s Valley in the book) to deal with their mother’s violent death at the hands of armed burglars.
“Instead of talking to them, he tells them to get on with their lives. That’s where I hope people can learn from the role,” says Lotz.
Lotz’s biggest problem in real life seems to be time management as he picks up more film roles.
Having acted on stage on Faan se Trein and Faan se Stasie, it makes sense that he’s been cast in the coming movie version of Faan se Trein, which starts shooting in May under the direction of Koos Roets.
He’ll soon start work on a Dutch film (he’ll learn the lines phonetically) and will also be seen in the forthcoming crime thriller Black South-Easter, now in post-production. “Things are coming my way. I want bigger and better, that’s my problem.”