Johannesburg - South African actor Jarrid Geduld underwent intensive training for more than three months to meet the physical demands for his latest role in local action film Indemnity.
The Cape Town-born actor, who plays a lead role in South Africa’s new action-packed SA thriller, performed his own stunts in the high-octane film, which will debut in cinemas around the country in two weeks’ time.
“The brains behind that training plan was Vernon Willemse (stunt co-ordinator) who mapped out an intricate and deliberate three months of training which consisted of a strict diet plan and then hand-picked individuals highly experienced in their fields including kickboxing, boxing, grappling, jujitsu, firearms training, conditioning and fitness,” Geduld told the Saturday Star.
“He then ended off by bringing in Grant Powell (fight choreographer) who used my newfound abilities and making them one with the fight choreography of the film.”
Geduld plays the role of Theo Abrahams, an ex-fireman suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who, unable to return to work, turns to alcohol.
Becoming increasingly frustrated and volatile, Theo’s world is rocked when his journalist wife Angela, played by Nicole Fortuin, is murdered – and he is the prime suspect.
He soon finds himself on the run from the police for a murder he is positive he didn’t commit.
As he is hunted by Deputy Chief Alan Shard (Andre Jacobs), and Detective Rene Williamson (Gail Mabalane) connections are revealed between his past, the origin of his PTSD, the murder of his wife, and a government conspiracy with chilling implications.
Geduld, well known for his roles in 10000 BC and Ellen: Die storie van Ellen Pakkies, is involved in a number of action-packed scenes in the film, with the highly acclaimed actor doing all of his own stunts in the film.
“I did a number of fight sequences and at one point I also hung out of a 21-storey building. The film is action all the way,” said Geduld.
Asked whether he was nervous to perform his own stunts, Geduld said: “Moments before performing any stunt, naturally the body forces you into a state of anxiety and the unknown, but once the cameras are set and the inevitable scream of action is heard, adrenalin kicks in and fear of the unknown becomes art in motion.”
The film, directed by Travis Taute, is South Africa’s first action film and centres around Geduld’s character Theo Abrahams’s physical and emotional journey.
“Theo has been laid off of work pending evaluation and then gets framed for the murder of his wife, which sets off a sequence of action-packed events throughout the city of Cape Town,” said Geduld.
“I thoroughly enjoyed playing Theo Abrahams. He is a man on a mission to clear his name while also struggling with deep trauma and pains from the past; he is trying his utmost to avoid confronting that.
“The film has a strong focus on mental health and PTSD – something so needed in society right now.”
The film, which had its overseas premiere at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada last year and already released in the US earlier this year, premiered in South Africa at the 10th annual kykNET Silwerskermfees, where the film received 12 nominations.
The action-packed thriller has received plenty of plaudits, with Geduld even being labelled as South Africa’s very own Jason Bourne.
But what does Geduld think of his new nickname?
“It surely does have a nice ring to it, but naturally we will always fall in the shadow of Hollywood’s films, actors and artists.”
“Indemnity, however, shines an important light on the incredible talent we have in South Africa both in front and behind the camera.”
Geduld admits his latest role is the most challenging he’s played in his acting career so far.
“The toughest, most challenging role I’ve played so far has to be the role of Theo Abrahams, because I often found myself having to physically and emotionally tell the story.
“I don't think that I rank any of the roles that I play, but I will say that Theo posed an incredible challenge both mentally and physically and often simultaneously and therefore makes it a very special and unique role to the others that came before – who all also posed their own set of challenges emotionally in order to tell a continuous story that engages the audience.”
While it may be the most challenging role he’s ever played as an actor, Geduld said it was a dream come true to star in an action movie.
“I think every boy who grows up imagines themselves as an action figure or hero.We spend endless hours imitating our favourite action stars and kung fu masters from a long list of films.
“However, never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd become one or be regarded as one or even be referred to as one. So it sure feels good to be in one now.”
Though prior to landing the lead role of Abrahams, Geduld admits he didn’t believe that he was suited for the character.
“I auditioned for Indemnity, but initially after receiving the request to audition I felt quite reluctant to do it solely based on the fact that I believed this character was not suited for me – and not because I couldn't bring Theo to life, both physically and mentally – but as a true artist I still went and did the audition in good faith.
“However, by the third audition I finally latched on to the idea that actually 'To hell with it, I am the man for the job’, and then I immediately knew when that happened that I wasn't going to leave any stone unturned in order for me to play this role and the rest, as they say, is history.”
The actor also described what it was like to work closely with director Travis Taute.
“Working with Travis was easy and he always made everybody feel safe. The way in which he conducted himself whilst having to give direction in highly stressful and dangerous circumstances was exceptionally admirable and showed incredible leadership, character and sheer determination to get the job done.”