Catch Me a Killer: Albert Pretorius as serial killer Stewart Wilken

20 March 2024

Catch Me a Killer: Albert Pretorius as serial killer Stewart Wilken

At the end of October 2022, Albert Pretorius played South African serial killer and necrophiliac cannibal Stewart Wilken, aka Boetie Boer, for episode 7 of Catch Me a Killer (CMAK), the new Showmax Original crime drama procedural series based on the book Catch Me a Killer by journalist-turned-criminal profiler, Micki Pistorious. The series is written and created by Amy Jephta (Skemerdans, Barakat, Trackers) and each episode focuses on Micki’s interaction with a different notorious South African criminal, including the Station Strangler, Phoenix Strangler, and the Cleveland Killer.

If you’d like to know more about Stewart Wilken, you can binge true crime series Boetie Boer on Showmax now. 

Prison scenes were shot at Cape Town Film Studios, with courtroom scenes shot at a school hall that the art department had made over into a courtroom. 

Watch the trailer for Catch Me a Killer now

What else were you working on at the time you were filming Catch Me a Killer?

It is all a bit of a blur timeline wise, but I know I was shooting on and off on Spinners, Devil’s Peak and Catch Me a Killer around the same time. I think I wrapped on Devil’s Peak before CMAK but I still had a call or two on Spinners. 

At what point did you learn that there was a whole series coming about Boetie Boer?

I found out about the Boetie Boer series when I saw on social media that some actors were shooting on it and then heard there was a brief out to the agents for the series. This was early or mid-2023. I have seen the trailer and stingers but I haven’t watched a whole episode yet. I don’t think the two projects can be compared since Boetie Boer is more a true crime reenactment series (by what I have gathered from the trailer) while CMAK is more fictionalised and focuses on the Micki Pistorius character (played by Charlotte Hope) without the documentary angle. 

What research materials were made available to you in preparation for the role?

There was very little research material available. My biggest source was Micki’s book and snippets I could gather from the internet. I had no access to voice clips so I also had no idea what he sounded like. I had the book and the picture of Stewart and a few articles online. This gave me a lot of room to play with and make it my own. Obviously you want to be as accurate as possible when playing a real person, and with the resources available I tried to build a character as authentically as I felt I could. It was unfortunately impossible to grow a beard in time and we decided a fake beard would look inauthentic but the bearded Boetie Boer is also just one image of the man. There is more to him than just the boogeyman image.

What do you think it was like for people like Micki Pistorius and the detectives who worked on the case, like Derick Nortworthy, to try to understand Stewart Wilken?

I can only speculate as to what it felt like for them to talk to Stewart. There must be a level of fear but also excitement. To have such an open conversation with a serial killer must have been great for her research but the things he said were so terrifying and horrendous that it must also have been sickening to hear. I think Charlotte Hope played the interview scene so beautifully. With curiosity and humanity but also with a bit of empathy and absolute horror.

You have some lines that are incredibly dark, delivered in quite a matter of fact way. How did you approach that?

I felt that some of the dark things he said are quite matter of fact. If those terrible things are normal circumstances to your everyday life, you might describe them in a matter of fact way, like walking the dog or getting groceries. It was part of his life for so long that a certain numbness might be present, possibly out of self preservation. 

What did you want to show about Stewart when he’s terrified in prison? 

He clearly loses his mind without the outlet he had (his crimes). I think he was scared. I think he was alone. I think he went back to a childlike state of fear. Physically I am not sure what I did but if it showed a vulnerability, I would be happy.

How do you feel about the possibility of Stewart Wilken watching your performance?

I don’t really think about it. If he does and says I got it all wrong, I would probably be happy because it means it hit a nerve. If he approves I’d probably worry! (Albert laughs)

If you could sit across the table from Stewart Wilken, what would you ask him?

Chicken or beef?

When we don’t think of someone like Stewart as a monster, where does that leave us? 

It is quite complicated. And I think it is a question the series explores. As an actor I couldn’t think of him as a monster. You can never judge your characters. I had to find his humanity and try to link those horrors to a very human level. Otherwise you just play a boogeyman and he is so much more than that.