Adrian Steyn as Matthys in Matilda & Matthys

26 February 2024

Adrian Steyn as Matthys in Matilda & Matthys

The actor Adrian Steyn made a name for himself in the popular Afrikaans rugby drama Getroud met Rugby, took a turn as the presenter of the competition series, Koppestamp, and recently starred in the movie Die Onderonsie. He now stars in Showmax’s new Afrikaans romantic comedy, Matilda en Matthys.
Rozanne Els spoke to Adrian about his latest role.

Tell us a little about how you got involved in the movie.

Bibi (Slippers, screenwriter, and director) contacted me, gave me background on the movie, and asked if I would be interested in auditioning for Matilda en Matthys. I said yes, did the audition and the rest is history.

How would you describe your character?

Matthys is purposeful and driven, hardworking, and passionate about his work. He is definitely nerdy and a logical thinker; everything must make sense to him.

Were you able to relate to your character? What were your commonalities, and how do you differ. Especially when it comes to your beliefs and ideas about love and relationships.

I struggled to see myself in Matthys – which made the process mostly challenging. He is an absolute logical thinker and this conflicts with what love is for me. I am much more attuned to being in the moment and I am mostly guided by the heart. But I appreciate Matthys for the challenge he gave me!

Watch the trailer for Matilda & Matthys

How do you feel about the three questions that Matthys uses for his app’s algorithm? Do you think it is possible to tackle something as illogical as love with pure logic?

It can certainly tell you if you and the person are thinking in the same way, but only as it pertains to those specific questions. This alone is not enough to determine love; we as humans are too complex for that.

What are your answers to the app’s three questions? (Are you someone who squeezes the toothpaste or do you roll it up from the bottom? Do you follow rules or are you a rule breaker? Do you believe in happy endings?)

a.) I squeeze out the toothpaste.
b.) I believe in rules and like them, but now and then rules can be bent a little depending on the situation.
c.) Yes, I believe in happy endings!

The narrative style that Bibi uses, specifically to break through the fourth wall, requires something special from a story and its actors. What was your experience of this approach? Have you done anything similar before, or was this something new to you?

As an actor, it is something unusual but magical. We are (usually) guided not to look into the camera, so much so that doing it sort of opened up a different world. I have never done anything like this professionally, so it gave me a sense of freedom. It was satisfying to let viewers into the characters’ world rather than them just looking in from the outside.

How did you and Emma go about bringing the special relationship between Matilda & Matthys to life?

Understanding the story is very important; it is the foundation for me to be able to devote myself fully to any character. I think both Emma and I understood where our characters were coming from and Bibi facilitated that very well, which of course made the process easier. If you allow yourself to always play in the moment, the character will allow you to stay in his world; then on-screen chemistry usually follows naturally.

Adrian Steyn in Matilda & Matthys

And the other players – was there anyone you particularly enjoyed working with?

Everyone, in front of and behind the cameras. It was great to work with so many new people with different energies and talents.

How was the vibe on set? Any funny anecdotes you can share?

The vibe was always comfortable and light. I can’t remember specific moments, but Pietie Beyers and I have worked together before, so there are always a few laugh sessions involved.

What was it like working with Bibi, both as a screenwriter and as a director?

I didn’t know Bibi beforehand. I knew about her as a presenter, but after doing a little research, I realized what a dynamic and talented writer she is. She wrote a good script and I think it’s difficult to get it (a script) right, especially a layered script like Matilda & Matthys. She did her job very well. She, of course, also knew the story very well as a director, and when you have that kind of relationship with the story, you automatically have a special resonance with how it is told. She knew what she wanted, what she wanted to do, and what her vision was because she had been journeying with the characters for long before we brought them to life. She guided us well and she created a safe space for us to think out loud and discuss things; I appreciated that. It can be intimidating when your director also wrote the story, but Bibi really made us feel part (of everything), which was amazing.

What would you say are the most important, or prominent, themes of the movie?

The overriding theme, I would say, is love. Then, of course, also sub-themes of love such as how love makes sense to different people. Each character is on their own journey, but everyone is still looking for love.

What stands out as highlights of the project?

To play such a prominent character in the story and to give Matthys life. Of course, all the costumes and other “characters” we had to play were also great fun.

For me, a highlight is always the togetherness of the cast and crew. Within two weeks everyone had become so attached, and the last day was nothing but sad. We worked hard in a short time, but there was always the necessary support. We were in it together.

Was there anything particularly challenging or surprising? Or something that happened that will stay with you forever?

During the last week on set, I got proper flu. This made the process physically challenging, especially because you want to end on a high note.

What do you think viewers’ reactions to Matilda & Matthys will be?

It’s a feel-good love story; I believe people will enjoy it. And I hope people journey with us.