DANI VAN DER HORST
Stefan Vermaak is a South African actor, who plays the role of Oscar Fourie in the upcoming drama, Moffie, which will be out in Cinemas on 13 March. PDBY caught up with him and chatted about the upcoming film.
This film is an exceptionally important piece of work for the LGBTQ+ community, how did it feel being a part of something that was so much bigger than just a film?
It’s just so much more satisfying. A lot of time you are part of a film/series/tv show etc that is mostly just entertainment and that’s also great but being part of Moffie, you get to do way more than just entertain. You get to educate an audience or even more, you get to educate a society. This is such a powerful way to change the way people think. I really hope that this film will be talked about for years to come because I think It has the content to do so.
You play the character, Oscar Fourie, could you tell us a little bit about him?
He is a conscript going to war, with all the same emotions as all the other conscripts, except he is easy going and up for any challenge. He is physical and stands out from the group. And of course, [he is] a lady’s man. His biggest challenge during his time at the border is not the border itself, but being without a girl. To him, being a conscript will probably give him more girls.
The story is full of heart-breaking moments, which moment did you find exceptionally tough to portray?
In that time, being homophobic was a general thing. So, to portray a character that is homophobic was extremely difficult. I am lucky to say that my best friend is gay and to say homophobic things and to do homophobic things (although it was my character) almost made me feel like I was betraying him. It broke my heart to see how gay people and all outsiders for that matter [were] handled, and I hope this film will change the way people think about homosexuality- that it’s not a choice and being gay doesn’t make you a moffie but being homophobic makes you an a**hole.
Recently strides have been made in South African television with regard to the representation of the LGBTQ+ community, for example, the first gay “Boer” on “Boer Soek ‘n Vrou” stirred a lot of discussion on the topic of LGBTQ+ representation on television. This was based on a real-life experience, but fictional experiences are equally important in creating a space that is inclusive. How do you think the film industry in South Africa could work towards creating a more inclusive space?
Again, we have to educate a society; and to educate is to understand, and I think something like “Boer Soek n Vrou”, made a lot of people realise that the idea that homosexuality is wrong, is out-dated. I hope that in the future we will not talk about a film about 2 gay men, but rather a film about love.
How would you describe your experience working on this film? This was definitely the highlight of my career. The script is amazing. The director is world-class. The process that the director used, is every actor’s dream. You get to rehearse, you get to really become that character, because of the director that gives you the tools do so. It was also a young and very talented cast, that all just fell in love with the process and each other- and I believe you will see that on screen.
As South Africans, many of our fathers were a part of the army during these times, did working on this film change your perspective on that at all? Yes, because it was very close to home for all of us. We all listened to army stories from family members. It wasn’t just a story. It was real. It really happened. And not a million years ago. It happened to our parents.
How would you describe Nicholas van der Swart? And why do you think his story is so important?
I’m not sure if this scene made the cut, but I remember reading the script and there is a line where Nicholas asked his father: “Why am I gay?” and his father just did not reply at all. And that is why his story is important. So that if we are all grown up and our kids ask us: “Why am I gay” that we can answer them with love. Do you have any comments on the South African arts industry and where it’s heading? After you see this film, you will see that we have the directors, we have the crew, we have the actors, but most importantly we have the stories so that we do have to stand back for any country when it comes to making beautiful films. Therefore, I have a lot of hope and dreams for our industry.