In the action-packed five-part series Devil’s Peak two characters integral to the story, could not be more different. On the one side there is Anton Heidt, the mobster with no regard for women or the law. Then there is Christine van Rooyen, a call girl who will do anything to offer her young daughter a better life.
The role of Anton is played by Albert Pretorius, and Christine is played by Tarryn Wyngaard, both multi-talented actors known for their work on stage, in film and on television.
Albert, what made Anton a challenge to play?
To me it was the gender-based violence that is a plague in our country but comes so naturally to Anton. Tarryn and myself spoke a lot about our scenes, and I am very grateful for such a wonderful acting partner. We created a safe space for each other where we both were comfortable in going where we needed to go with our characters.
Tarryn, tell us about Christine. What made her a challenge?
All the violence she had to go through that made her lose herself along the way. Even though she is poor, she has her own energy and her own voice. She is feisty, and I appreciated that she set boundaries for herself. But when she is with Anton, she is not the person she can be. It is only when her own child is in danger that she becomes the strong woman she is.
What was the highlight in making the series?
Albert: It is always a pleasure working with the director Jozua Malherbe. We worked together on the kykNET series Slot and immediately clicked. He gives his actors a lot of room to play, and it never feels like work. I am also a huge fan of Deon Meyer’s books.
Tarryn: To work with Albert. I don’t think I could have done what I did if it wasn’t for him and Jozua. The production company also gave us the freedom to make choices and there was a lot of trust. I think that is what makes this series so special, and I am sure it translated onto the screen.
Are you watching Devil’s Peak?
Albert: Yes, but it is difficult watching yourself. I think the team did a wonderful job.
Tarryn: Yes, I had to watch it to mentally prepare myself when it was released. I went a little deeper with this role and gave something of myself in some scenes. I surprised myself in certain scenes and for that I am grateful.
Albert, you look very comfortable in the kitchen scenes. Do you like to cook?
Thank you, art department. I have three or four dishes that I can serve friends, but the rest is still in the planning phase.
Tarryn, how was Christine’s look put together – from her hair, her different voices, her wardrobe?
It was put together by the creative team. The regrowth on my hair was what my hair looked like at that stage. My hair is naturally dark but was blonde for a while. I wanted to bring something elegant and arrogant to the character. Christine is looking for a man and where she comes from, she knows gangsters, but not gangsters in suits like Anton. I asked for her wardrobe to be more elegant than the rest of the girls she works with.
Christine has something in her that Anton wants, almost a goddess-like energy. The silver dress for instance is symbolic of the cage that Anton puts her in.
The way she talks and the different ways she uses her voice, happened naturally. In the beginning, Jozua wanted to use wigs to show the different sides of Christine, but she is a strategist who can use the way she looks and the way she talks to show the different roles she plays.
Albert, you had a full year and is seen in Devil’s Peak, One Piece on Netflix and Spinners on Showmax. You were also on stage in the critically acclaimed stage production of The Promise. What were your highlights?
Most of the productions were filmed last year, but Devil’s Peak is without a doubt a highlight. However, the different roles in One Piece, Spinners and Catch Me a Killer also stand out as challenges.
Tarryn, and you?
I have had back-to-back productions since July, and I’m not done yet. In the most recent, I am a mother of two in a very special production that will be released next year. But there were other roles that also stimulated me. It was a good year.
Albert, how did you form Anton’s character? Is he based on someone?
No, not really. The character was so well written, and I tried to bring in certain elements of the character like he was in the Deon Meyer book Infanta, the original Afrikaans version of Devil’s Peak. The rest happened with the guidance of the wonderful director and fellow actors who were prepared to tango.
Tarryn, and Christine?
I think Christine is based on the many matriarchs in the coloured community. South African women are smart and strong. Christine is not unique in her circumstances, but she is without a doubt one of the strong South African women raising children on their own.
Albert, if you had to choose: a baddy or the hero?
I try not to place characters in boxes. It is more interesting and honest to find the real person behind the character, but those that tend to move to the dark side, are usually a challenge.
Tarryn, what are your dreams and wishes for 2024?
There is so much violence in the world, and I am hoping for peace. I want to live a simple life – work hard, sleep well, eat good food and take it day by day. I want to spend more time with family and friends, go to the beach, swim and eat strawberries. Just live, get enough fresh air and sit in peace.