Apartheid hor­rors brought back to life

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON 1918-2013 - YOLANDE STANDER

WHILE his char­ac­ter is well­known in Hol­ly­wood block­busters, Ge­orge’s very own Tarzan was given a som­bre glimpse into the dark side of South Africa’s past when he was part of the cast of the film Man­dela: Long Walk to Free­dom.

Ac­tor and body­builder De Wet du Toit, 26, played two roles – a sol­dier and a po­lice of­fi­cer – in the film which pre­miered in Lon­don the day Nel­son Man­dela died at his Houghton home in Joburg last week.

Du Toit has be­come a house­hold name af­ter his self­cre­ated Tarzan YouTube clip went vi­ral two years ago. It was cre­ated as part of his bid to make his dream of play­ing Tarzan in a Hol­ly­wood re­make of the clas­sic come true.

His ul­ti­mate goal is to play the lead in di­rec­tor David Yates’s re­make of Edgar Rice Bur­roughs’s Tarzan, on which film­ing is ex­pected to be­gin next year.

Du Toit and his twin brother Ru­dolf, also an as­pir­ing ac­tor, re­lo­cated to Cape Town last year in the hope of fur­ther­ing their act­ing ca­reers.

One of their first projects was di­rec­tor Justin Chad­wick’s film based on Man­dela’s life. “It was an awe­some and un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence. We were given roles as po­lice­men as well as sol­diers.

“We had weapons train­ing and we were taught how to march in a pla­toon. We also trav­elled in po­lice Casspirs and other ar­moured ve­hi­cles, which were pelted with rocks and ex­plo­sives (dur­ing film­ing). We had to duck down or run along­side the ar­moured ve­hi­cles while shots were fired all over the place,” Du Toit said.

“In one scene I had to drive a po­lice van speed­ing into a res­i­den­tial area, and then sud­denly come to a halt while a car wreck ex­ploded and was en­gulfed by flames just a few me­tres away. It was a sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence which re­ally hap­pened, and it felt like we were thrown back into that time.”

It was also this re­al­ism that left Du Toit shocked when he truly re­alised the depths of the hor­rors of apartheid. “I grew up in a demo­cratic South Africa,” he said.

One of the scenes that made a big im­pact on Du Toit was the Sharpeville protests. “We stopped a school bus full of chil­dren, and they had to do what­ever they could to es­cape. Po­lice of­fi­cers had to do what­ever we could to ar­rest protest­ing chil- dren. As soon as the bus stopped, chil­dren jumped from the bus, run­ning in all di­rec­tions. There were stunt guys dressed as chil­dren who we had to ar­rest with force.”

What hit him hard­est was the re­al­i­sa­tion that in 1976 the po­lice of­fi­cers were not ac­tors, and the chil­dren not stunt­men.

Du Toit said that he was hon­oured to have been part of a project of this cal­i­bre, and was deeply saddened by Man­dela’s death.

‘THROWN BACK IN TIME’: De Wet and Ru­dolph du Toit in cos­tume for their roles in the film Man­dela: Long Walk to Free­dom.

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