Fana is Brad’s point-man in zom­bie block­buster

Fan­tas­tic thriller with hor­ror ele­ments – Mokoena

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMOVIES - WENDYL MARTIN

YOU MAY have heard the whispers that “the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse is com­ing,” – and come it does. Watch­ing World War Z will leave you groan­ing for the mon­sters to leave your head. The zom­bies are fast, furious and in 3D. Give me sparkly vam­pires any­day.

Within min­utes, de­ranged peo­ple are slam­ming them­selves into car win­dows, munch­ing on peo­ple with their man­gled teeth and spread­ing a virus that sends the world into chaos.

The film is high on ten­sion, scary bo­gey­men and women who will chew you up at ev­ery turn. They run in packs, stop­ping at noth­ing.

The film, which opens in South Africa on Fri­day, stars Brad Pitt, whose long hair re­mains per­fectly flat-ironed through­out the car­nage. He stars as Gerry Lane, a for­mer UN in­ves­ti­ga­tor who must lo­cate the source of the zom­bie epi­demic.

Lane and his fam­ily are res­cued by the UN from a crum­bling Philadel­phia and taken to a naval ship. En­ter home­grown star Fana Mokoena, who plays the role of Thierry Umu­toni, Lane’s res­cuer, ex-boss and friend.

He plays the UN’s deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral, and is Lane’s life­line and point-man dur­ing his mis­sion.

The Good Week­end spoke to him this week, be­fore World War Z’s re­lease next Fri­day.

This is Mokoena’s sec­ond film with di­rec­tor Marc Forster, af­ter 2011’s Ma­chine Gun Preacher, which starred Ger­ard But­ler.

“I have al­ways been com­fort­able work­ing with Marc – that’s why he con­sid­ered me,” says Mokoena.

He de­scribes World War Z as a “fan­tas­tic thriller with hor­ror ele­ments”.

“Dur­ing talks with Brad and Marc I thought it was only go­ing to be a clever piece with po­lit­i­cal over­tones, but I was pleas­antly sur­prised.”

While highly imag­i­na­tive, the film re­al­is­ti­cally shows how coun­tries would re­spond to a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. For ex­am­ple, a bru­tal, yet ef­fec­tive ap­proach by North Korea is de­scribed.

Mokoena says he based his char­ac­ter on for­mer UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral Kofi An­nan and for­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki.

“They have a worldly, ed­u­cated out­look that comes across in their ac­cents. But I also wanted to mod­ernise him.”

Mokoena de­scribes his char­ac­ter as “su­per-cool, chilled out and head driven”. I’m not sure how it’s pos­si­ble to be chilled while de­ranged zom­bies teem the planet, feast­ing on hu­man flesh.

Most of his scenes were shot on a naval ves­sel in the wa­ters around the UK in 2011. Mokoena re­turned to the set at the end of last year, for a reshoot dur­ing which the film was ma­jorly re­struc­tured.

Mokoena is well known to TV view­ers, hav­ing had lead roles in pop­u­lar se­ries like Yizo Yizo, Gen­er­a­tions and The Lab. Work­ing with Amer­i­can ac­tors proved to be a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence for him.

“I am used to small, in­ti­mate pro­duc­tions. For them it’s very much about busi­ness and I found that very re­fresh­ing.”

He de­scribes Mireille Enos, who play’s Gerry’s wife Karen, as friendly and chatty.

As for Pitt, Mokoena said: “He was in­ter­est­ing; pro­fes­sional but very hu­man. I saw three sides to him: the pro­ducer, the ac­tor, the nor­mal guy. It was a real learn­ing curve.”

World War Z.

CLOSE AD­VISER: South African ac­tor Fana Mokoena plays Brad Pitt’s res­cuer, ex-boss and friend in

HIGH ANX­I­ETY: ‘UN deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Mokoena’ in a scene from the film.

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