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Adam Croasdell on 'Hatchet Hour'


Adam Croasdell in Hatchet HourAdam Croasdell is a multi-talented and versatile international actor, who was born in Zimbabwe, studied in South Africa and has worked extensively in Britain and the United States. Having started his career performing opposite the likes of Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman at the Royal National Theatre, he moved into television with roles in Peak Practice, The Chase, EastEnders, Supernatural, Nikita, Body of Proof, Once Upon A Time and NCIS.

He's also known for his voice work, which includes: Middle Earth - Shadow of Mordor and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and has performed in films such as Werewolf: The Beast Among Us, The Prince & Me 3 and Extraction. Croasdell's most recent role sees him playing "Izzy", a confrontational stand up comic, who tries to uncover a dangerous plot in Hatchet Hour.

How did you get involved in this film?

I knew the director, Judy Naidoo, from my time studying drama at Wits University in Johannesburg. We lost touch for a long time but a couple of years ago I happened to be in a bookstore in Heathrow airport on my way to LA and I heard a voice behind me saying, “Adam? Is that you?” It was Judy.

We ended up having a long talk about where we were at in our lives and what we were doing. At the end of it Judy said she was mounting this film called Hatchet Hour and that she thought she had a part for me in it. We spent several months discussing the project and my character - Izzy - over Skype, and, after doing some rewrites together, got him to a place that resonated strongly with me. Then I jumped right in.

Have you done stand-up comedy before?

No, I had never done stand-up before. It’s a very specific, very specialized talent and I have huge respect for comedians who do it. In my case, I decided at a particular point in my preparation that I wasn’t going to make Izzy a stand-up who goes only for the laughs, but a guy who is quite dark and cynical; more a satirist and a social-commentator. Izzy is a guy who is intelligent and not afraid to make people feel uncomfortable with his observations.

How did you prepare for the role of “Izzy” and where did you take inspiration?

Preparing for Izzy was a multi-faceted process. Firstly, the look for me was very important. I wanted him to feel like he comes from a difficult background and has the scars to prove it. I started growing my hair and beard out and used a nutritionist to lose weight. I worked with the very talented costume and make-up departments, and designed tattoos for him, which sent out a very particular message that speaks to where he’s come from.

Also, I walked around Johannesburg looking like this and interacted with people a lot to gauge their reaction, which proved pretty interesting at times. One of the other influences I used was to dig into the work of the late Bill Hicks, who was a tortured, brilliant man. In my work in the UK and in America, I tend to play a lot of characters who operate on the peripherals of society. Izzy is no exception.

Your South African accent sounds quite natural, I see you were born in Zimbabwe, can you tell us a bit about your upbringing?

Yes, I was born in Zimbabwe and lived there until the age of 13 at which point my parents sent me to boarding school in South Africa. I lived in SA until I was 22, and afterwards I headed out to the UK to work and later onto Los Angeles, which is where I live now.

What was the most grueling aspect of shooting ‘Hatchet Hour’?

The Braamfontein winter! When discussing the project with Judy, she talked about setting Hatchet Hour against the steel grey tones of a Johannesburg winter - which, incidentally Tom Marais - our Director Of Photography - captured beautifully. But starting work on the project, I had forgotten just how cold those Jozi winters can be. Bitter. We did a lot of work in the Magistrates Court and prisons downtown, and it was like operating inside a refrigerator. The endless summer that is LA has made me soft!

Hatchet Hour - Adam Croasdell

You’ve been described as “the love child of Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman” in this performance (by me)… which actors do you admire or see as role models?

Well that’s a huge compliment. They’re two of my favourite actors. I often get told that I look like those guys. In fact, one trip I was returning to California and as I was waiting in the Customs line at LAX, one of the Homeland Security officers came up to me and said, “Hey, you’re that guy. The guy from the movies.” I said, “Which guy from the movies?” and he said, “You know; the guy with the claws - Wolverine!” I should have just nodded and he would’ve fast-tracked me.

I’m a huge fan of Downey Jr. for his wit and intelligence, and of Jackman who’s completely multi-talented. Other actor role-models for me are Brando, Newman, Streep, Ruffalo, DiCaprio, Sarandon and Brand. Not only great performers, but people who use their platform to make the world a better place.

What was it like playing opposite Erica and Petronella?

Fantastic. Two very beautiful, very talented actresses. Erica is a big star in Afrikaans-language films and Petronella has her own, large following too as a black South African actress. I play Petronella’s boyfriend in the film and I have a deep, love/hate relationship with Erica’s character. It was great to see these two women come together to play best friends in a story that transcends the issues of race in South Africa, in what is now an international, award-winning film.

How do you think audiences will respond to this film?

I hope that they love it. It’s a moody thriller with edgy, eccentric characters. It’s shot beautifully by Tom Marais (iNumber Number) and has a twisted plot and a great score. A great evening of cinema.

What was it like working with Judy Naidoo?

Exciting and also very challenging at times. Judy has a great sense of purpose about her projects. She’s one of the only film directors that I’ve worked with who has managed to build almost 2 weeks of rehearsal into the process prior to shooting, which is unheard of, but which for an actor is an absolute gift. Her talent is for fusing sometimes very disparate elements into a unified whole; Indian influences in the score whilst the audience looks at quintessentially African landscapes; comedy and violence intermingling; empowerment and disempowerment revolving around one another. She has put so much of herself into this film through every stage of the process. It’s hard not to admire that.

Are you planning on visiting South Africa again?

Africa is in my blood. South Africa’s under my skin. I’ll be back.

 
Erica Wessels on 'Hatchet Hour'


Erica Wessels is a rising South African star, best known for Alles Wat Mal Is, Primeval and My Father's War. Her latest role in Hatchet Hour, which opens 4 November, sees her playing Isabelle Sudlow, a ruthless, go-getting lawyer who finds herself in a tricky situation when she kills her gardener by mistake and scrambles to cover it up with the help of a friend.

Hatchet Hour - Erica Wessels

How did you get involved in this film?

Judy Naidoo phoned me about a year and a half before we started shooting. She had heard of me through someone in the industry and wanted to chat and organize a Skype meeting. At first, I didn't think anything would come of it, but eventually she set up auditions in Joburg and I happen to be up here, so it worked out well. I'm not sure if she even saw other actresses for Belle, so I was pretty lucky that she so envisioned me in this role. I got the job and the rest is history.

Do you know anyone like Isabelle Sudlow?

No I don't. I know people with certain traits of hers, but as a full person no.

Did you enjoy playing a blonde for a while, and more importantly a psycho?

In terms of the blonde, I loved having such a radical transformation as an actress. It's the stuff we dream about. It also really helps when forming the character, because physically you feel like the job is half way there. You feel very 'other' and yet ironically, you now have to find the truth of the character within yourself, find links, connections, needs and a deep love and empathy for yourself as the character. It was pretty scary playing a psycho sometimes. But people and behaviour is what fascinates me so the way Belle rationalizes her behaviour; I found upsetting, yet profoundly interesting. I never saw her as a psycho, just a woman who has become lost in competition, fears failure more than anything, and in essence, desires praise and acceptance from her father more than anything.

How did you prepare for the role and where did you get inspiration?

I chatted to a couple of friends who are attorneys about the technical details and their experiences. I hung out with a bunch of lawyers for an afternoon. Trying to catch on the energy and general nature of determined goal-driven lawyers. I read up about people who isolate themselves and refuse to see vulnerability as a healthy life decision. I created a whole back story for Belle. And then I always read my script over and over. There are lots of clues on every page.

What was the most grueling aspect of this project?

About 50% of the shoot happened at night, which gets incredibly draining and demanding in a physical sense.

What was it like playing opposite Petronella and Adam?

We had loads of fun and the couple of rehearsal days also really helped in regards to connection and freedom once we got to set.

Did you keep anything of Isabelle's or what would you have wanted to keep?

I bought a couple of her designer outfits from Glynnis our wardrobe HOD. I have never understood 'power dressing' as I do now. Belle made me feel like an ice queen mixed with a lioness on heels.

How do you think audiences will respond?

I think people are going to like it. It's gritty and funny with a dark and twisted edge, yet hilarious and upsetting at the same time. Definitely a genre South Africa hasn't seen enough.

What was it like working with Judy?

Judy has a very clear idea of what she wants, yet she always gave me freedom to play around and find the truth of the moment for myself. I respect her determination to create an interesting and surprising film. Hopefully we will work together again.

 
Top Ten Movies with... Robby Collins


Robby Collins is a rising star in the world of stand up comedy, having played to the biggest comedy audiences in South Africa, opening for Marc Lottering, Eugene Khoza and Trevor Noah. A natural born performer, he tried to be "normal" from a young age growing up in Newlands East, Durban before moving from Sydenham to Wentworth and then Musgrace in Kwazulu-Natal. Struggling with dyslexia in a rigid education system pushed him to follow in his sister's footsteps, where he found he preferred the stage more than school work, writing his first comedy skit at 15. He finally dropped out of school in Grade 11 after his teacher discovered he was in a local play and quipped he was "a better actor than a student".

His parents didn't make a big deal about him dropping out of school, but were concerned about his bigger plan. Collins has had a wide range of jobs from working in a call centre and handing out flyers to minding children and fixing cars. The lanky comedian kept himself motivated by reading biographies, in which he found many people's careers only really started at the age of 35. His mom has only attended a few of his shows and while supportive, his dad still insists it isn't a real job... but Collins isn't fazed.

Engaging with people and making them laugh from the stage at school, helped define his life's path as he moved from acting on the Durban theatre circuit to becoming a fully fledged stand-up comedian. He integrates his life's journey into his material, drawing from his human experiences and leveraging his believable stage presence. He's appeared at The Heavy Weight Comedy Jam and Blacks Only. His prolific touring with Trevor Noah's Daywalker show and being repeatedly selected as an opening act by top SA talent, lead to his well-deserved nomination for breakthrough act of the year at the Comic Choice Awards.

Collins performed his own show That Bushman's Crazy, which won an award at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. He likes to tell real human stories instead of using stereotypes and prefers to avoid the "whole black and white thing". He also steers clear of religious jokes because his mom was once a nun and he was an altar boy. While the charismatic entertainer has shifted his focus to comedy, he's also acted in TV shows Scandal, Rhythm City and worked as a writer and performer for Laugh Out Loud and LNN. He's developed a loyal following and wants to continue fine-tuning his acting talent and eventually write and direct.

"My worst movie... anything Leon Schuster has done."

I can't watch movies without...

- ...snacks.

Which famous people share your birthday?

- Freddy Prince Jr. and this other guy Yunus. He sold drugs in Durban. (8 March)

What is the first film you remember watching?

- Oliver Twist, but The Lion King was the first film I saw in the cinema.

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- My worst movie... anything Leon Schuster has done.

Which movies have made you tearful?

- The Awakenings and whenever Jackie Chan speaks english in Rush Hour.

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- Laurence Fishburne, but he just looked like he's from Eldorado Park.

What's your favourite movie line?

- "You talkin' to me?" ~ Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Jaden Smith. That's only because I want to meet his dad.

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- I'd love to do a remake of Oliver Twist. The story is so universal.

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

- City of God ...it’s one of the most original stories.

- Ed Wood ...it’s a reminder of how great Johhny Depp was.

- Flowers of War ...the suspense is amazing.

- Coming to America ...I just remember laughing as a kid.

- Aladdin ...nothing better than an old school Disney movie.

- Rocky ...it's got to be the most inspirational movie ever

- Oliver Twist ...no need to explain.

- The Little Rascals ...childhood favourite

- Carlito's Way ...it's the softer side of scarface

- iNumber Number ...because it was a great local film. Not only good for South Africa standards but world standards.

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

 
Top Ten Movies with... Noko Moswete


Noko Moswete is a rising star in the world of South African stand up comedy, dubbed as a woman who can make almost anyone laugh. Moswete was born in Limpopo, matriculated from Northern Academy and obtained a diploma in Language Practise from the TUT. From primary school, the storyteller nurtured a talent for making people laugh, whether she was entertaining them with tall stories or telling jokes. Her love of sitcoms and desire to "act funny" evolved into attending comedy shows, where she approached a comedian to find out how to make it happen.

Her stand up career began when she joined the Comedy Society in Pretoria, travelling to various gigs where her open spots received a great response from audiences and the media. She's performed in comedy clubs and theatres around Gauteng and Limpopo, at events like the SATMA 2014 and Tshwane's Finest Comedy Festival, sharing the stage with the likes of Kagiso Lediga, Mashabela Galane and Roni Modimola. Her steady rise to fame saw her nominated for a Savanna Comic Choice Award, as voted by other comedians.

Moswete performs mostly in Sepedi, taking inspiration from everyday experiences and current affairs, and her dream is to have her own television show and reach as many people as she can online. As her audience grows, she's also training to become a teacher, which keeps her busy when she's not embracing the serious part of comedy... the preparation and rehearsal. We caught up with the rising comedy star to find out which movies have been most memorable to her...

"I am a sucker for romance."

I can't watch movies without...

- I can’t watch movies without a glass of wine, you know "just in case the movie is boring".

Which famous people share your birthday?

- John Vlismas shares my birthday, the rest of the people I found on Google... I don’t know them, so maybe they are famous in their countries. (3 May)

What is the first film you remember watching?

- The first movie I remember watching is Sarafina!

What's the worst movie you've ever seen?

- The worst movie I have ever seen is a Nigerian film called Beyonce & Rihanna! I think it took 5 hours.

Which movies have made you tearful?

- Titanic. Up to this day I still shed a tear or two when I watch it, but for different reasons now... no one is willing to do that for me.

Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?

- I have met Idris Elba... in my dreams.

What's your favourite movie line?

- My favourite line is from the movie Once Upon a Time in Mexico, when Sands enters the restaurant and orders a meal...

"I need you to kill a man. [Food arrives, and he tastes it.] El, you really must try this. It's a puerco pibil. It's a slow roasted pork--nothing fancy, just happens to be my favorite--and I order it, with a tequila and lime, in every dive I go to in this country and honestly, that is the best it's ever been, anywhere. In fact, it's too good. It is so good that when I finish with it, I'll pay my check, walk straight into the kitchen, and shoot the cook, because that's what I do, I restore the balance to this country. And that is what I would like from you right now. Help me keep the balance by pulling the trigger."

Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?

- Vatiswa Ndara, she's best known for Home Affairs and is currently playing Nomarussia on Igazi! The woman can act. Any role, any day.

If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?

- It would have to be about the strength of a woman! Women are strong yet delicate. I believe they should be celebrated every single day!

Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...

- Think Like a Man, Act like a Lady ...thank you Steve Harvey for hooking sisters up with inside info. Boy, aren't we beating them at their own game!

- Titanic ...I am a sucker for romance, contrary to popular belief.

- Sarafina! ...I love the English accent.

- Fifty Shades of Grey ...minus the ass-whipping though!

- Yesterday ...I believe we can never have too much HIV/AIDS education. This movie came at the time when HIV was taboo, nobody wanted to talk about it, let alone disclose their story. It's a story of hope and love.

- Emmanuelle ...it's not my favourite movie anymore, but back in 2003 I would even set my alarm at 12am to catch it on E-TV.

- August Rush ...this movie just warms my heart! Finding a child that was taken away at birth.. only to discover that the child is a musical genius because the parents were musicians too. How sweet is that?

- Once Upon A Time in Mexico ...I used to have a huge crush on Antonio Banderas!

- Osuofia in London ...this is one of the first Nigerian films I saw, it's really funny! Plus the lead actor, Nkem Owoh, is one hilarious actor and comedian.

- Mr. Bean's Holiday ...we all know why!

Top Ten Movies with... is a people series on SPL!NG, featuring a host of celebrities ranging from up-and-coming to established personalities from all industries including, but not limited to: Internet, Radio, TV, Film, Music, Art and Entrepreneurs. It's a chance to discover who they are, find out where they're at and to get a fun inside look at their taste in movies.

 
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