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Antoinette Louw on 'n Man Soos My Pa

SAFTA award-winning actress, Antoinette Louw, came from a family, where both her parents were professors in psychology, which probably gave her a natural predisposition to being interested in people and their behaviour. Acting requires a deep understanding of what makes people tick and Louw has used this knowledge to augment her performances in films such as Die Laaste Tango, Discreet, Winnie Mandela and now 'n Man Soos My Pa, in which she plays young Nakkie, a mother trying to deal with her husband's alcoholism and sheltering her son from the consequences. 'n Man Soos My Pa opens nationwide in South Africa on 20 November.

Antoinette Louw as Nakkie in 'n Man Soos My Pa

How did you get involved in this project?

I was very fortunate that Sean approached me for this project and asked if I would be interested. After I read the script, I said yes immediately.

The film deals with the devastating consequences of addiction. Have you witnessed something similar with close friends or family in your life?

Yes. And I think most families/friends have. It's more common than we think, but unfortunately it's not really talked about for fear of rejection and shame.

It's a nostalgic film. Did any of the props bring back a memory or two from your past?

Absolutely. And it was wonderful. Things like the plastic containers in Nakkie's kitchen were exactly the same as the ones my mother used... I remember the cookies that were in there. A beautiful memory. And of course the music tapes! Batoni Robensin, the art director, did a magnificent job of bringing this world back to life.

The story is full of heartache... how did you prepare for your role?

The key is not to focus on the heartache, but on the positive qualities of the story and within the characters themselves. Otherwise they become victims, and they aren't.

What would you say is the underlying message in this drama?

All of us has a story, and we should be careful to judge... communication is so important. It brings healing. And of course, hope.

How do you think audiences will respond to this film?

The humanity of the story is universal.  We all can relate, because we all have mothers, fathers whom we have relationships with (whether good or bad). Even those who don't know their parents - that's a relationship too.

The ensemble is made up of some of South Africa's finest acting talent... who were you most excited to work with?

It would be unfair to single one person out, because I was excited to be part of this cast as a whole. I feel very privileged to be mentioned with them.

What was it like working with Sean Else?

Sean is an actor's director, and you don't get many of those.  He gave me the freedom to explore, yet always within his vision. And very importantly - he treats everybody on set with the same respect.

Did you think of your part as playing a younger Nakkie, Sandra Prinsloo or both?

It's always about the character. Sandra and I worked intensely on Nakkie's background, goals, intentions and mannerisms. It's important to honour the character and the story. It's our job as actors.

Was it strange returning to the old South Africa?

No. Because the film is not political, I embraced the beautiful memories of being a little girl with my family back then.