Gerald Steyn is relatively new to South African TV screens but hard work has definitely seen him knock a few hits out of the park in the last five years and it doesn’t seem like the enthusiastic, charming actor has any plans of slowing down soon. He is part of a new era of young talented South African actors who, especially in a time of uncertainty, will help lead the next wave of stage productions, TV series and feature films.
Almost his entire CV of movies, short films and series are available to stream on Showmax. Naturally, we have some questions for the dude.
Very few short films ever make it into full-length movies. You played Gerhard in Binnelandse Sake, a brilliant thriller with unexpected twists. Do you see potential for a full-length movie or has it served its purpose?
This was a great role and a fun role to play, especially given the opportunity not to go stereotypical with my character. I think if a script is good it will definitely go full-length but I think in this case, the way this was shot, achieved what it had to.
It was so beautifully shot and everything was captured between 20 and 30 minutes. As far as my character is concerned, he served his purpose with a little story within a story.
You play the role of the rebound guy, Liam in Meisies Wat Fluit, a drama about relationships gone wrong. Were you also surprised about how authentic the movie turned out to be?
I actually auditioned for Stiaan Smith’s role of Henk. We were sent the entire script and I remember reading Liam’s part and thinking: “What a fu**ing loser!”, you know? And then I get to play him! So that was fun!
I was given complete free rein. I think (director) Johan Cronje wanted the date scene to be as awkward as possible. As in Trackers, maybe I have a gift for making things awkward, but it worked. I really enjoyed the scene. What actors do with the material usually and hopefully is to amplify the script and I think Stiaan and Liandie did just that. It was refreshing to read something honest and not along the romantic idealistic vein we get sold every day in magazines and romcoms.
I think the movie conveyed the message of realistic relationships and the consequences of one’s actions. I was pleasantly surprised by the end product.
You had a bit of a Games-of-Thrones-character moment on Trackers as Lourens le Riche because the viewer thinks: “Jislaaik, what a sweet guy! I like him a lot!” and the next moment your head gets blown off in the most gruesome and unexpected way. Did you think “Ag nee f*k, I’m that oke who dies in the first episode!” or do you just go for it?
Haha, no, with Trackers I loved playing Lourens! I relished the opportunity to get my head blown off! It was just such a fun role and it broke the otherwise heaviness of the show that we felt was needed, otherwise it wouldn’t have worked. You can see from a mile away that this guy is expendable, so there had to be something else to surprise the audience.
We were in Bela-Bela for two and a half weeks and had an absolute ball. I know the show is serious but behind the scenes there was lots of fun. Absolutely loved it!
Is there a risk in remaking a classic? Fiela se Kind turned out to be a total gem. Were you nervous at all taking on this project because of perceived expectations, building on a South African classic?
I wasn’t nervous at all. I think the movie was due an update – not that there’s anything wrong with the older movie – young people watch HD movies on their phones these days. I think for Fiela se Kind not to garner a new audience because of old technology is a great injustice because I loved the book. I felt that we were doing something that was very necessary.
One episode into Lioness and you’ve already saved a kid and landed the leading lady as Anton. This show looks like lekker nail-biting stuff! Without any spoilers, what can we look forward to?
This was my most difficult project to date, both personally and professionally: a classic case of your personal life interfering with your professional life. I know it is not professional to take your “house to work”, but we’re humans and at the end of the day if you’re an actor, you play a bit of yourself.
I’m not one of those people who becomes someone else – it is just me being a cop, sitting in a van, stalking a woman. It was difficult getting into it but I did it. People can expect a lot of twists! Every episode of Lioness ends with the audience wanting to know more and it is designed like that. Get ready to see crazy sh*t from people that you don’t expect it from! All isn’t as it seems…
DAM is a psychological thriller set to be released on Showmax on 22 February 2021. You play the role of Max. Your colleague, Neil Sandilands (Bernoldus) was impressed with how seriously you take your job as an actor but in the same breath said you provided endless entertainment on set. How do you maintain that balance?
DAM! What a lekker shoot, hey! And all the people, all the actors: Niel, Laudo, Lea, Natasha, Francis, Pallance – we had such a good ensemble cast! I really think there is magic in this show and I’m very much excited to see the end product! This is the one I’m most excited about. I didn’t even think Neil noticed it, so it is a great compliment.
DAM was a great experience. All the actors had fun. Usually the rule is “if we have fun, the audience will have fun”. Off camera it was also a great experience and I really hope people watch it in droves. When I’m on set there is so much to discover and be enthusiastic about.
The art of creating scenes really intrigues me, so I get very enthusiastic. Having said that, I can’t have fun if I don’t know my bloody lines or if I don’t hit my mark. You need the one to have the other. I’m also very hard on myself but that is because I care and I want to do the best I can. It can be detrimental because you get stuck in your head sometimes, but most of the time I’m surrounded by people I can trust and count on easily. At the end of the day we have fun.