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South African Interviews

Tamika Interviews Bjorn Steinbach


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And so begins a series of interviews I’m conducting with actors in South Africa.

Because I’m in Cape Town, these are the guys and girls that are on the scene here.

(Ok I’m starting with the guys, so shoot me 🙂 )

And guess what? They all happen to be hotties ……….wow my life is hard.

I begin with Bjorn Steinbach.

Originally hailing from Port Elizabeth and once an engineering student at UCT, he’s now very active in the film industry.

He doesn’t do modelling, although he’s featured in the Cosmopolitan’s 2011 Sexiest SA Men calendar (wink wink)

He’s done some pretty impressive stuff, including Fear Factor: South Africa in 2005 and a film in 2009 that aired on NBC (in the USA) called The Philanthropist.

In 2009 he did another film which aired in the USA, called Natalie Holloway, and in 2010 he was a stuntman in Death Race 2 which was shot here in Cape Town.

Quite recently he’s been involved in a BBC docu-drama production called Atlantis: End of a World, Birth of a Legend. Also Invictus and another BBC documentary series called The Great British Story.

The big nugget, called Generation Kill, is what he’s most well-known for to date.

It’s an HBO original 7 part mini-series about the 1st Recon Marine Battalion that was sent in during the first phase of the war in Iraq.

We meet at the Putt Putt course in Seapoint and wow – what a passionate, fiery, confident guy!

I’m not surprised, seeing as he does get invited to all the hottest events in Cape Town.

This includes launches for GQ Magazine, Glamour Magazine, various Art Gallery openings, Oscar evenings at The Table Bay Hotel and more.

Apart from four hole-in-ones he scored (which he didn’t let me forget), he knows exactly what he wants and he’s not afraid to go for it.


As I swing my Putt Putt club like I’m a big deal, I coolly score a hole-in-one myself and we begin our interview.

Tamika: So we are both from PE! And you were at school with my brother! What is your fondest memory of being a student at Grey – who was your favourite teacher?

Bjorn: My fondest memory of being at Grey is sliding over the wet rugby fields in our prefect’s uniforms! My favourite teacher was Mrs Bell. Grey tested me, supported me and helped me become the person I wanted to be. One thing I’ll always remember is the day I received my white blazer (Honours blazer). Since Sub B I’d seen Matrics wearing them and I’d always told myself “no matter what, I want one one day!” (I thought they looked so cool, haha!)

Tamika: And after Grey, from what I understand, you went to UCT and studied psychology? How was that and why did you change to go to City Varsity?

Bjorn: Correct. I studied maths and psychology. I was going to go into engineering but at one point I started having sleepless nights, wrestling in my mind with whether it was really what I wanted to do. I also had one of my sisters encouraging me to go for acting. She knew it was my passion and kept saying to me “stop speaking about acting…just act already! Just do it!” That was the cherry on top for me and I decided to just change the course of my life then and there; it was either ‘now or never’. I changed to City Varsity and completed a 3rd year advanced acting course. I’ve never looked back.


Tamika: What did you do on Fear Factor: South Africa in 2005? How was that experience?

Bjorn: I was still studying at the time. I was one of about 16 contestants on the show. I made it to the 3rd day. I ate flies with sour cream and strawberries, and on one episode I was dragged behind a 4×4…. It was great! All of us on the show shared a good camaraderie.

Tamika: You sound like you’ve been very busy… You even went to New York to do their summer program at Esper Studio! What are your impressions of New York?

Bjorn: It was unequivocally heart-stopping and ferociously inspiring. Stole my heart.

Tamika: Could you see yourself living there?

Bjorn: Definitely.

Tamika: How long are you planning on staying in South Africa – do you have plans to move to another country?

Bjorn: I have plans to go back to New York next year.

Tamika: Where are you based now?

Bjorn: Cape Town.

Tamika: Who is your agent?

Bjorn: Cape Town – Artists One and New York – Paradigm.


Tamika: Where do you stay when you go to New York?

Bjorn: I stay with people who I shot Generation Kill with. They have a place in Gramercy Park.

Tamika: Do you ever go back to Port Elizabeth to visit?

Bjorn: Yes, as often as I can! About four times a year.

Tamika: What’s in the pipeline for you at the moment; what films are you working on?

Bjorn: Well I just finished shooting for BBC’s The Great British Story. I played a guy called William H. Russell; I had to put on an Irish accent! Coming up is another BBC documentary-series called Mankind. Then there’s also Monkey’s Wedding – a Cape Town Indie rock movie – and Protocol 9, a German/South African co-production.

Tamika: Do you also model?

Bjorn: No.

Tamika: What are your favourite South African films?

Bjorn: Jerusalema, Yesterday and District 9.

Tamika: Where do you party, usually?

Bjorn: All over. I’m liking DecoDance at the moment.

Tamika: What’s in the boot of your car right now?

Bjorn: Plan B’s. -Various items of clothing I may need. Oh, and a red helmet and a cowboy hat.

Tamika: Do you have siblings?

Bjorn: Yes, two sisters and one brother.

Tamika: What does your family do – your mom, your dad?

Bjorn: My mother is a restaurateur. She owns De Kelder in Port Elizabeth. My father owns an engineering company, Oilco.

Tamika: What is your health routine like – diet, gym etc.?  Is there anything interesting that you do on the side?

Bjorn: I’ve been sporty all my life but I don’t really gym. I box and I practice Parkour – free running. Oh, and I love sweets.

Tamika: Where do you see yourself in ten years from now?

Bjorn: Living in New York and driving a Mustang.

Tamika: What is one interesting thing about you that your followers don’t know – something personal?

Bjorn: I love board games, especially Balderdash and 30 Seconds.

Tamika: Name a place you love – it can be in Cape Town, New York or even in the good old Eastern Cape, South Africa! (For me personally, I love Nanaga Farm Stall on the way to Kenton!)

Bjorn: My happy place is Tofino Beach in Mozambique. I was last there about a year and a half ago.

Tamika: Do you do any charity work?

Bjorn: I’m involved in StreetSmart SA – a fundraising initiative that contributes directly towards enabling street children to live a viable life in society.

Tamika: Finally, what do you tell yourself when you walk out of an audition?

Bjorn: ‘Leave it alone’. Because everything you do has to happen before you get into that room. Once you leave it there’s nothing more you can do.

If you want to follow him on Twitter, he goes by @Bjornsteinbach

You can also check him out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BjornSteinbach

South African Interviews

Cape Town Film Studios


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Who thought that South Africa couldn’t have its own Hollywood? On the way to Stellebosch from Cape Town, there are huge mysterious structures which have been popping up for some time in an area which a signboard pointing to it labels “Cape Town Film Studios”. Phase 1 ended at the end of last year. That was the construction of sound stages, production offices, workshops, retail spaces, commercial offices and light industrial facilities. There are massive sets which are being built to mimic scenes that are frequently needed for films. For instance, there’s a typical New York street set being built and a typical USA style suburb. Also being built inside the studios are the interior sets which are magnificent replicas of the interior of a medieval castle and caves. Currently there are two drama documentaries being filmed at the studios. These are “The Great British Story” and “The History of the World”. The CEO of the Cape Town Film Studios is a guy called Nico Dekker. He is the former head and CEO of Table Mountain Motion Picture Studios and is assisted by an experienced management team, namely Rashay Magan (General Manager and deputy Chairman), Ross Rayners (Manager of Studio Projects),  Fadiel Martin (Accountant) and Anant Singh (Chairman). He was in fact interviewed on CNN. On its website, it’s described as “Cape Town’s first, fully fledged sound stage complex”. Even famous vistors are impressed. Stephen Fry said on Twitter during the filming of “The Borrowers”:

“And – that’s a wrap. 12 hours of larkish fun. Must say deeply impressed with brand new Cape Town Studios. Make Pinewood etc look v shabby”

The Studios have received write-ups  in The Hollywood Reporter and Time Magazine. Take a look at their website: http://www.capetownfilmstudios.co.za/

South African Interviews

John Cleese Brings His Alimony Tour to Cape Town


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John Cleese. We all know him as Basil from the famous British sitcom Fawlty Towers, produced by BBC Television and first broadcast on BBC2 in 1975.

We also loved him for his role as a member of Monty Python, the comedy troupe responsible for the sketch show Monty Python’s Flying Circus and four Monty Python Films: And Now for Something Completely Different, Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.

He describes himself as a “British Writer, Actor and Tall Person” on his blog and of course many of us remember his witty British humour gracing our very own South African film, Spud.

He’s done it all – radio, television and film; including his roles in two James Bond films, two Harry Potter films and three Shrek films. Basically, he’s a legend. And just one week before his 72nd birthday, he is performing stand-up comedy in South Africa. Brilliant. He performs at the Cape Town International Convention Centre tonight, as well as over the weekend (22-23rd Oct) He is in Johannesburg from the 25th-30th of October.

South African Interviews

Leon Schuster’s Back


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Drinking my morning Nescafe, I do the rounds of reading about the latest updates in the SA Film industry. As I click through many articles; two words jump out at me again and again. Leon Schuster. It seems he’s come out with a new film.

We all know his most popular movies (Panic Mechanic, Mr Bones, Oh Schuks…it’s Schuster, Mama Jack) and a lot of us look back fondly on memories that saw us rolling around the bedroom floor in hysterics at his characters. Well – more of those moments await us because he has a new film coming out called ‘Bad Buddies’. Schuster says; “It’s about two men, one black, one white who are supposed to be buddies but instead they are constantly bickering, plotting against one another.” Apparently it still has the same formula – simple, straightforward and concentrating on visual gags. Gray Hofmeyr, well-known South African film and television director, sums it up as the ‘funniest we have ever done’ – hmmm, no pressure. More good news – the Walt Disney Company itself has just acquired the Distribution rights! Woah, not playing around.

“I am thrilled by the idea!” Schuster exclaimed in an interview with The Citizen. “It’s definitely a dream come true. But I’m also carefully optimistic because this doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an international success. I believe Disney will give the movie more support with their massive marketing machine and unlike working with a local producer, Disney will make sure it gets exposed worldwide.” I say Thumbs Up, Schuster! I hope that an international audience will welcome the film and its jokes as much as we here in South Africa will… I for one love a good comedy.

South African Interviews

More Good News for SA Film Industry


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Another local film is due to set fire to the hearts of South Africans!


Following the exciting news of local film ‘Skoonheid’ winning at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Zurich film festival this year, as well as being selected for the Oscars 2012, comes another local masterpiece.

 ‘Florida Road’ is a film about a wealthy Indian family from Mumbai who moves to Durban for a better life.

Follow protagonist Shaan Sahay (Ashmit Patel) as he is desperate for his father’s love and acceptance while struggling to pursue his passion for writing. After a tragedy hits the family, he discovers his true place in the world as well as the importance of family.

Filmed entirely on location in Durban, the film showcases the beauty of the city while telling the story of one family.

 It’s an independent feature film, directed by Brad Glass and written and produced by Fred Fontana.

 Fred Fontana is from the United States originally, and has been involved in Hollywood motion pictures such as ‘The Specialist’ with Sylvestor Stallone and ‘Solider’ with Kurt Russell, amongst others.

 After 20 years in Hollywood, he realized South Africa’s potential for filmmaking and moved to South Africa, where he’s begun ‘Sunworld Productions’. Seems he’s picked up much success after just a year of being established, as ‘Florida Road’ has already won many awards at festivals around the world (you can see all of them on its website http://floridaroadthemovie.com/).

 The title was inspired by a well-known road in Durban, Florida Road.

I for one am very excited to see the film, which releases in our cinemas in the next few weeks!

South African Interviews

South African Film off to the Oscars 2012


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There are smiles all around as the huge news breaks about popular South African film “Skoonheid” winning at the Zurich Film Festival last weekend! And that’s not all… it’s also been selected as the South African entrant for the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars next year!

Looking on their website, one is proud to be South African as you scroll through all the news, reviews and press releases for this daring film which has clearly taken the international film world by storm. The film is about a white, Afrikaans man in post-Apartheid South Africa who has “become devoid of any care or concern for his own measure of happiness” in his hopeless existence. Convinced of a predictable outcome to a life he hates, he is taken by surprise when a chance encounter absolutely unravels it and causes waves in his “clean, controlled” world. A journey begins where he loses control of his boundaries and starts to break his own rules; as he develops a conflicted infatuation with the 23-year-old son of an old friend.

Director Oliver Hermanus

With strong influences of South Africa’s controversial history, the film’s angle is taken from what it’s like being a white, Afrikaans-speaking conservative man part of the minority in a post-Apartheid South Africa. His deepest secrets and desires are privy only to the audience who become aware of his many emotions including his fears, his angers and his jealousies. It was directed by Oliver Hermanus and produced by Didier Costet. “Skoonheid” means “Beauty” in English.

At the Cannes Film Festival this year

The Zurich Film Festival announced its winners on the last day of an 11-day festival, and South African actor and star of the film, Deon Lotz, walked away with the award for best actor for his performance.

“Skoonheid” was the first Afrikaans film to ever have been shown at the Cannes Film Festival, where it walked away with the Queer Palm award in May this year. The award was for its contributions to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues. As far as the Oscars 2012 go, we are all holding thumbs. Read more about the synopsis of the film, the news, the reviews, as well as about the director and his notes for the movie on the film’s official website: http://www.skoonheid.com/beauty_ang.html. You can also see the trailer here!

Brand Promos

How much have you done for Charity?


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“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan. Great words from a great man; pressing on the importance of giving. For all such givers in the Port Elizabeth area, this week sees the cocktail launch of the 2011 “Santa Shoebox Project”. This inspiring community initiative co-ordinates the donation, collection and distribution of personalized Christmas gifts to underprivileged children.

(more…)

South African Interviews

James Bond keen on South Africa


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Here’s a bit of exciting news, to illustrate to you how much international filmmakers are interested in this country… According to reports the filming of the 23rd James Bond movie has not been going well in India. It has faced many difficulties shooting there; some that have to do with permits for filming in certain areas. So producers have put forward Cape Town as the alternative location for the filming! Our city is more than happy to oblige of course, with the Cape Film Commission chief executive, Denis Lillie, saying “Cape Town welcomes James Bond whenever he decides to visit us”. Cape Town is a very picturesque city, with international stars such as Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds spending lots of time here (I have even seen them out!) According to Yahoo! News, South Africa has also been named for a local franchise of the popular American and British television show Law & Order! Come & travel Cape Town.