South African ac­tor en­joys slip­ping back to the 1970s

Montreal Gazette - - MOVIES - BOB THOMP­SON

Af­ter al­most a decade in the film busi­ness, Sharlto Co­p­ley has de­cided he’s an ac­tor and an hon­orary Cana­dian.

“I have a place in Van­cou­ver now, so Canada’s very close to my heart,” says the 43-year-old South African.

Friend and Van­cou­ver-based film­maker Neill Blomkamp has lots to do with Co­p­ley’s new res­i­dence and his pro­fes­sion.

The South African-born Blomkamp, a cham­pion of the Canuck West Coast city, hired the then in­ex­pe­ri­enced per­former for his lead in the mod­est-bud­geted Dis­trict 9 in 2009. The bud­dies worked to­gether on the stu­dio flick Ely­sium and Chappie in South Africa.

Co­p­ley has man­aged to land some parts on his own, too, in­clud­ing co-star­ring ef­forts in the re­make The A-Team and Malef­i­cent.

Add Free Fire to his list. In the 1970s ca­per flick, Co­p­ley plays arms dealer Ver­non who finds him­self trad­ing quips and gun­fire with prospec­tive clients when things go wrong at an iso­lated ware­house.

“Ver­non throws his mouth at peo­ple to see what comes back at him,” says the ac­tor.

The role seems to be a good fit, but it shouldn’t sur­prise fans. When Co­p­ley was hired to por­tray Ver­non he col­lab­o­rated with di­rec­tor Ben Wheatley and screen­writer Amy Jump to re­fine the per­sona.

“Ben cre­ates a great space for ac­tors to play around and im­pro­vise,” Co­p­ley says. “As our char­ac­ters were com­ing to life dur­ing film­ing, Amy (Jump) would re-work some of the stuff so that it would be unique to each of us.”

Be­sides that, Co­p­ley ad­mits “I had a great pointer in the script when Brie Lar­son’s char­ac­ter says Ver­non was mis­di­ag­nosed as a child ge­nius and never quite got over it.”

Sharlto Co­p­ley

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