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Lara de Bruijn on 'n Man Soos My Pa

Lara de Bruijn is a young South African actress with a bright future. She's represented South Africa for hip-hop dance, attaining Protea colours, and in 2012 played the shrew in Sean Else's Kyknet TV series, Liefste Kayla. Lara sees herself as quiet, down-to-earth and a bit of a perfectionist. She plays Ellie as a teen opposite Deon Lotz as the Kolonel in 'n Man Soos My Pa, which opens nationwide on 20 November.

How did you get involved in this project?

I was fortunate to work with Sean in 2012. I was part of a KykNet sitcom, Liefste Kayla. During December 2014 Sean contacted me and suggested that I audition for the role of Ellie.

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

I am extremely privileged to have been spared the heartache of having a family member or close friend dealing with addiction.

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

Yes. The sound of Jean’s xylophone made me travel back to when I was a lively 4-year-old, sitting on the carpet, conducting my own little percussion orchestra with my Barbies. I didn’t have a real xylophone, but the enchanting sound of this prop brought back many treasured childhood memories.

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

I haven’t experienced extreme heartache in my personal life, so at first I thought that it was going to be rather challenging for me to try and place myself in a situation like that. I think preparation for an emotional, demanding scene is something very personal and varies with each member of the cast.

Wearing Ellie’s clothes and being exposed to her circumstances, made the process of “becoming” her easy, but it was challenging being the daughter of an abusive father. Elma Postma and I also had a session where we discussed and analysed our character.

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

I think the universal message is one of healing. Healing of broken relationships, bad habits and inner turmoil.

How do you think audiences will respond to this film?

It is impossible NOT to get emotionally involved in this nostalgic film. With universal themes such as unconditional love, addiction and trust, audiences will easily relate and see a part of themselves somewhere along the way – whether it's in a specific relationship, a character or even the lyrics of a song featured in the film. We experience these things daily and if this does not trigger an emotional response from movie-goers, I don’t know what will!

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

It was a privilege to work with everyone involved in this production, but playing his daughter in this film, I must say that I was most excited to work with Deon Lotz. It was incredible to see how he transforms to become one with his fearsome, militaristic character.

What was it like working with Sean Else?

It was fantastic to work with Sean. His infectious enthusiasm and energy for this project inspired me and I learned so much. Not only about acting in front of the camera, but behind-the- scenes work as well.

Is this your first feature film role? Did you feel any pressure playing opposite veteran actors?

Yes, this was my first feature film role. Looking at the cast for the first time, of course I felt pressure, because I have never done anything this major before, but these seasoned actors never made me feel inferior to them. I immediately felt part of the team.

What impacted you most about being transported to the old South Africa?

What impacted me the most is the simplicity of it all. Nowadays we are glued to the technology-robot and hardly spend time without it. Family-time is TV-time and play-time is playstation-time. In this film I experienced a world without intense technology – a time where pianos, paper swords, xylophones and cardboard boxes were your only entertainment. Futhermore, I loved the colours used to portray the old South Africa – much more natural than the brightly lit, crisp, white, techno world we live in today.