Caption: RULING WITH AN IRON FIST: Patrick Mafokeng is enjoying slipping into the disciplinarian shoes of his patriarch character, Mlungisi Ngema, in e.tv’s Scandal.
Caption 2: Mafokeng (far right) with Mbulelo Ndlazilwana (his son), Gcina Nkosi (as his wife Zinzile), and Nomvelo Makhanya (his daughter) in a scene from the soap.
PATRICK Mofokeng is a well-known face on the small and big screens. Aside from guest appearances in Backstage and Isidingo, he made an indelible impression in Zone 14, Yizo Yizo, When We Were Black, Stokvel, Soul City, Heartlines and Fallen. How-ever, he confessed to having an overriding passion for movies.
Having appeared in Who Am I?, which featured Jackie Chan, Clint Eastwood’s Invictus and Lonny Price’s Master Harold… and the Boys, Mofokeng praises some of the Hollywood heavyweights he has shared the limelight with.
“I’ve worked with quite a number of them. The person who made a great impression on me would have to be Morgan Freeman (Invictus). I worked with him for 11 weeks. The professionalism, the way he approaches his work and his humanity. Some people you just can’t talk to. I learnt a lot from him.
“When we were off set, we would sit and talk about the industry, how we started, and South Africa. And the director, Clint Eastwood, is the best.”
He spent some time with Forest Whitaker late last year.
Mofokeng recalls: “I was in Cape Town for about two months. I was his dialogue coach (for the movie Zulu). That is another amazing man.”
Having become quite popular through his influential role as King Sibiya in Zone 14 – for four seasons, nogal – the actor says he reached a point where he knew leaving would be the best decision.
He shares: “King, for me, was the big role. It put me there – I got an opportunity to expose my talent. I think we had a great cast. When I left, I felt like the character was a bit stagnant.
“As an actor, I felt I’d lost the passion for the show. It wasn’t exciting for me any more and I felt it was time to move on and venture into different things.”
Despite bagging the Scandal role of Mlungisi Ngema, a driver for Daniel Nyathi, Mofokeng isn’t crazy about soaps.
“I’m really not a great fan of soaps. But I started watching Scandal when I started shooting,” he laughs. “I wanted to familiarise myself with their style of play.”
He expanded on his character: “He is the patriarch of the family. He is also very rigid. I think a lot of it is because of the changes with the entire family moving into a new environment. Plus, his wife is working for this rich, arrogant man.”
Does the green-eyed monster surface?
“What I try to not do, especially because I don’t know where the writers are taking the character, is to play him as a jealous husband. He loves and trusts his wife,” he offers.
Of course, with him also in the employ of the Nyathis, he is pretty much in the same boat as his wife.
“I enjoy the fights I’m having with Sello’s character. To play the antagonist is wonderful. We might be buddies one day, who knows!”
Somehow that doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon.
What the actor is most proud of is the praise he has received for playing a Zulu family man.
He chuckles: “I’m Sotho. I learnt Zulu at school. This role is quite different from what I’ve done on TV. And people have been quite impressed with my Zulu.”
Having won Golden Horns at the 2007 and 2012 Saftas (best actor in a TV drama for The Good Provider and best supporting actor for Master Harold…and the Boys, respectively), he jokes: “Now I’m looking for a best soap actor award.”
At the moment, Mofokeng doesn’t have any film roles in the kitty as his 18-month contract with the soap is going to keep him rather busy.
On what fans should look out for, he says: “Mlungisi’s attitude is the same. There are a couple of scenes where I bliksem my son so badly. I hope the public doesn’t hate me… I’m just doing my job. I don’t think he is a bad man. He is a man trying to keep the family fires burning and he is facing challenges.”
Looks like he is still “king” in the Ngema household, though!
• Scandal airs on e.tv Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm.