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Greg Kriek on 'The Recce'


Greg Kriek is a gung-ho South African actor and producer, who never shies away from a challenge and gets stuck in. One of the hardest working film professionals out there, he's constantly honing his craft, pushing the limits and committing himself to the art of film-making. When he's not on set or working his magic, he's preparing for his next role. A consummate professional and a gentleman - it's always a pleasure interviewing the rising SA star.

His latest film, a war drama called The Recce (opens nationwide 28 September), directed by Ferdinand Van Zyl, finds him getting down and dirty in a physically demanding leading role. Spling caught up with Kriek to find out more...

 

How did you come to be involved in this project?

I got the leading role in The Recce through the good old traditional process of auditioning - however it was a grueling waiting period of almost 2 months before they officially confirmed me. Between being optioned and booked really is actor's hell for so many (laughs).

Can you tell us a bit about your character - was there any resonance for you?

I play Henk Viljoen- a recce who is wrongfully declared KIA behind enemy lines. Abandoned by his superiors; it’s a race for survival in which his mental and physical abilities are pushed to their limits, as he navigates his way through the treacherous Angolan war zone in an effort to make his way home to his loved ones.

It was a tremendous honour to get to play Henk - I really resonated with his tenacity, his dogged perseverance, his deep sense of duty as well as his inner struggle of pursuing his passion and being with his loved ones at the same time, specifically the fact that sometimes these often are in conflict with one another.

The Recce - Henk Viljoen

How did you prepare for the role?

Ah man this was hands down the most physical preparation I have ever needed to do for any character - I went to a special boot camp with MILSPEC where they taught me tracking, special forces weapons handling, basic bush craft and sniper training.

In addition to this, I received horse riding lessons, stunt training and I also spoke to a lot of ex recces off-the-record and heard their harrowing stories, as well as family members of those who served.

I also read as many books as I could leading up to the film and watched numerous doccies and movies in between bulking up at the gym.

What did you learn from your time shooting The Recce? Would you be interested in doing more war films of this nature, why?

It was one of the most rewarding experiences to research, learn, immerse myself in the history and discuss all areas related to becoming and being a RECCE and a soldier.

I absolutely love this genre and really would love to do more films of this nature. I think so many men and women of war from across the globe have been misunderstood and have chosen to remain silent owing to various factors. I think film will continue to be a powerful catalyst in bringing about conversation and ultimately healing.

It looks like a labour of love involving blood, sweat, mud and tears - what was the most challenging aspect of your performance?

Firstly, my biggest challenge was to do as much research and preparation for the role - out of respect to all the recces and men that served their country. I wanted to bring the truest portrayal of a recce that has ever hit the big screen to date.

Beyond that my body was really put on the line - by doing most of my own stunts, dragging myself through rivers, mountainous snake-infested terrain, whilst truthfully incorporating my training in tracking, bush craft, weapons handling, horse riding and intel gathering. Beyond the physical challenge - to also truthfully immerse myself in the mental state that a recce or soldier truly needs - in order to survive in the bush.

The Recce - Henk Viljoen

What is your most cherished memory from ‘The Recce’?

It’s too tough to single out a specific memory as there were so many- but what I cherished so much was the camaraderie we formed as a film crew and cast under very tough and brave filming conditions. I think all the location moves, living and working together daily for over 6 weeks (in a war zone) brought us all together in a very deep way. We all knew that we were dealing with sensitive subject matter that needed to be treated with respect.

What do you think audiences will take away from the experience?

For audiences I would say that the movie is relevant and honestly explores how the war and the era - affected all of us no matter our gender or race. The one thing I really respect about the film is that there is no political agenda and I love the balance of how it explores how both men and women were affected by the war. It is both universal and local in that sense - and I think that we are finally ready for this film, which is told in a way South Africa hasn’t seen before.

Viewers can expect to see a raw and honest survival drama in the context of an action packed thrilling war epic. It showcases well-developed characters both male and female and delicately handles this sensitive subject matter that will hopefully spark conversation within families across the country.