Garth Breytenbach is a recognisable, solid and versatile South African acting talent, who has truly nailed his colours to the mast with a long list of film credits, which include some of our most important historical dramas: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Winnie Mandela, Verraaiers and Goodbye Bafana. Appearing in both local and international productions, he's worked with some of the best actors and directors in the industry, garnering much experience and respect along the way.
Breytenbach started his acting career on stage with several roles between Cape Town's theatres and the Grahamstown Arts Festival. After a number of TV movie and short film appearances, he landed a small part in Donovan Marsh's Dollars and White Pipes. This led to bigger roles in Goodbye Bafana, Footskating 101 and Starship Troopers 3: Marauder further cementing Breytenbach's career on the back of many appearances in local and international commercials and TV series.
While best known for his dramatic roles, Breytenbach is also adept at comedy as witnessed by his latest endeavour, Hammerhead TV, a sketch comedy quartet, which includes the talents of Bevan Cullinan, Brendan Jack and Chris Forrest. While we've seen a lot of Garth Breytenbach, the acting talent seems on the verge of getting the breakthrough role he so rightfully deserves... the one that changes everything! We caught up with Garth to get his take on what makes good movies great.
"Nic Cage's latest films bring tears to my eyes..."
I can't watch movies without...
- ...if at the cinema, it's always grape Slush and massive popcorn, just gotta be done. If at home, it's generally some spiffy red wine and some pizza.
Which famous people share your birthday?
- Che Guevara, Boy George, Donald Trump, Steffi Graf, no actors worth mentioning, but hey maybe Diablo Cody the screenwriter. (14 June)
What is the first film you remember watching?
- I started watching a lot of films from a very early age, but the films that stick out as earliest would either be something with Bud Spencer, like Banana Joe or The Secret of Nimh, a remarkable animated film, which is still brilliant today.
What's the worst movie you've ever seen?
- Haha, I've seen many and been in a few! I believe certain films are made bad for a reason and others try too hard. Two of the worst films I have seen are Nell with Jodie Foster, purely from the standpoint that I was 17, on a date and falling asleep. Needless to say it never moved to a second date and it was a waste of a Saturday night. Another I hated was an acclaimed film by Michael Haneke, called The White Ribbon - the longest 2 hours of my life. Still confused and have my mate giving me grief for not going to watch something else instead.
Which movies have made you tearful?
- I'm a bit of a softy, so it doesn't take much these days to make me teary. Most recently it was Long Walk to Freedom, which was a very moving film (not just because I am in it, haha!). I thought it was a powerful and well-told story. Also a few of Nic Cage's latest films bring tears to my eyes, but for other reasons. The Neverending Story's also gotta be in there for high-tear stakes.
Who is the most famous movie star you've ever met?
- Haha, with me it's never just one answer! It's a toss up between Idris Elba, Sean Bean and Sam Claflin. I met Sean and Sam on a film we shot in Cape Town, it was just before Sam became a big star and I have just loved Sean Bean forever, so it was a real starstruck moment meeting him. As for Idris, he bitch-slapped me on the set of Long Walk to Freedom, so met his palm too.
What's your favourite movie line?
- "I'm angry. I'm very angry, Ralph. You know, you can ball my wife if she wants you to. You can lounge around here on her sofa, in her ex-husband's dead-tech, post-modernistic bullshit house if you want to. But you do not get to watch my f*cking television set!" – Vincent Hanna from Heat, one of Al Pacino's many classic lines in the film.
Who would you choose to play you in your biopic?
- He's gone now, but I'd want a skinnier Phillip Seymour Hoffman to play me if it was full-blown drama. If there was some comedy to play ole Simon Pegg could take the reins.
If you could produce a movie, what would it be about?
- I love cerebral films and I'm a sucker for great dialogue and scenes that push the boundaries as opposed to mega effects and CGI. So my film would be in the vein of the classic French thrillers, leaving you gutted but fulfilled, wanting more, yet satiated.
Finally, your top ten movies of all-time...
Very tough to nail down just 10, but these are the ones that are shouting out at me now!
- Raging Bull ...wow, saw this and it blew my mind. It's a black and white movi with surreal performances and a rawness that chokes you! All the leads were sublime and Marty never gets it wrong. Plus you have to respect De Niro's method acting, even if it's not your thing. He studied the sport by becoming a semi-pro and then gaining all the weight to portray the older character. Awesome!
- Chopper ...again an obscure film about a real character, a low-life criminal from Oz with oodles of charm and many layers. Saw this and fell in love with the style and performances. A film that was a struggle to get made, but launched Eric Bana into the big leagues. Gritty, funny and an instant cult classic.
- Rocky Horror Picture Show ...it's funny that this made it onto the list, because I hate… and I mean hate musicals! But this film is now a stock classic in my collection. I never tire of watching it and it remains as fresh as the first time. Tim Curry is probably the world's most underrated actor, and yet he has played some amazing roles. The ensemble was brilliant and mixed with a bizarre plot and catchy tunes, it's an all-time cinematic great.
- Midnight Cowboy ...it's a brilliant, well-crafted film with amazing performances from Voight and Hoffman, classic improv lines and a gritty film that leaves you thinking and feeling a little dirty.
- Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ...British gangster film at its best! I was living in London when this was released and the hype was huge, apart from launching Guy Ritchie and most of the stars. It's a slick, fast-paced action film that combined rough-talking cockneys and awesome edited action/dialogue scenes that provided many quotable lines that are still repeated in many drama class monologues today - a unique cult classic.
- Delicatessen ...my introduction to Jean-Pierre Jeunet. This is a fascinating film that tickles every sense, much like Amélie, but due to it's earlier release and it being my first French-kiss from this filmmaker, it has to take the lead. Beautifully crafted scenes with majestic dialogue and fairy tale/fantastical imagery make his films a joy to watch where you can just marvel at the filmic beauty. He also has the innate ability to discover fresh talent with unusual looks, and hence create these out of the ordinary tales and worlds of the bizarre. Pure genius.
- This Is Spinal Tap ...I only saw this film a few years ago, but knew it was a must due to the legacy it has left behind and still garners today. This Is Spinal Tap is so ahead of its time it's actually scary. A mockumentary before the word mockumentary actually existed! Funny, off-centre, a brilliant cast and worth every cent you spend on actually buying the DVD, yes DVDs still exist and this one should be in your collection.
- Goodfellas ...it just has to be here. One of the all-time classics! Martin Scorsese does his thing again and delivers another hard-hitting, hard-to-watch-at-times mobster film that makes you sick to your stomach. I love a film that isn't scared to use the f-word and this movie delivers. It had the record at one stage for the most f-bombs or a derivative thereof. Repeat Scorsese offenders De Niro and Pesci are sublime, and Ray Liotta brings up the rear with one of his greatest performances. One of Marty's finest films with dialogue to dream of for days and days.
- Heartlands ...for many, this is an undiscovered gem waiting to be found. It's a low-budget film that I happened to stumble across many years ago with a simple story about a simple guy who goes on a road trip to win back his wife. It launched Michael Sheen's career (and rightfully so) proving a good story and good actors can captivate an audience. It's a movie that made me cry, laugh and remember that sometimes simple is best.
- Natural Born Killers ...I saw this underage, when it was a big deal in South Africa. It was very different to Oliver Stone's other work, which I shouldn't have been watching in those tender years, but it blew my mind. I had never experienced something so prolific and bizarre, I just had to go see it again the next day. I fell in love with it immediately: the use of different styles and genres, the absurdity and the content was so taboo. Grotesque and beautiful, it's an unromantic love story. What could go wrong?
Honourable mentions: Tell No One, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, The Shining, The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, Streetcar Named Desire, Apre Vouz, The Castle, This Is England, Nil by Mouth, Labyrinth, Dead Man's Shoes and Boy A.
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.