By Stephen Aspeling30 May 2023
See screen legend Marius Weyers in four stellar Afrikaans movies
Marius Weyers is one of the best South African actors of all-time. Having won a SAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award, he went on to win Best Supporting Actor the very next year. While a renowned stage actor, Weyers rose to big screen prominence with an award-winning comedy role in The Gods Must Be Crazy, which led to international recognition, SAG membership and high profile roles in dramas such as Gandhi, Farewell to the King and The Power of One.
Having made a splash in Hollywood, it was Paljas that brought Weyers back to South Africa, a film that served as South Africa’s first selection for Best Foreign Film since the end of apartheid. Following his return, Weyers has continued to deliver one solid performance after another, an actor who seems to strike a balance between heart, mind and soul.
A private individual, the revered blue-eyed acting veteran tends towards dramatic roles both on screen and stage. Weyers is a true and unpretentious actor who has a natural and unquestionable authority, void of ego. Able to sink into his characters and mine their humanity without judgment, he lives the full impact of the moment. Here are some of his most noteworthy recent performances.
Colonel Weber in Dis Ek, Anna (2015)
Dis Ek, Anna (It’s Me, Anna) is a powerful, provocative and star-studded crime drama from Sara Blecher starring Charlenè Brouwer as a victim of domestic abuse, who becomes embroiled in an investigation when she shoots her perpetrator. A dark and hard-hitting film that has a similar intensity to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Weyers takes on a key role as Colonel Windhond Weber in a SAFTA-winning supporting performance.
Donning a moustache and a suit, the Colonel makes it his mission to pursue the truth in his quest for justice for Anna against the backdrop of a country in crisis. Weyers has a seen-it-all quality, which, together with his unmistakable and deep voice, conveys kindness underscored by world-weary wisdom. Trying to lose himself to the character, he plays the determined, considered and somewhat glum Colonel in the pursuit of the truth behind a seemingly cold-blooded murder. Weyers is a natural, able to use his intuition to fill in the gaps, feeling the weight of scenes and aiming to become one with his character.
Ben in Twee Grade van Moord (2016)
Twee Grade van Moord (Two Degrees of Murder) is a provocative drama starring long-time collaborators Sandra Prinsloo and Marius Weyers. Taking elements from The Sea Inside and Away from Her, this contentious and shapeshifting drama deals with the emotional turmoil experienced when a renowned psychologist’s loving husband is suddenly admitted to hospital.
Having years of shared experience on stage and screen, the two have co-starred in several films, often playing married couples. Completely comfortable in each other’s company, their shared sense of history enhances their natural chemistry. Weyers takes on a challenging day/night role that sees him veer from lively to inert as a man finds himself bedridden. This is one of Weyers’ most animated performances in recent memory, showing Ben’s lust for life before tragedy strikes. Often constrained and acting from behind an oxygen mask, Weyers is charged with conveying the utter frustration and vulnerability of his character’s untimely predicament.
George in Die Verhaal van Racheltjie De Beer (2019)
Die Verhaal van Racheltjie De Beer (The Story of Racheltjie De Beer) is based on the story of a girl who made the ultimate sacrifice to save her little brother during a freak blizzard in 1843. History or legend, this gritty and stirring tale has become a part of Afrikaner culture and identity. The story has been lovingly supplanted in this ensemble costume drama from Mattys Boshoff, starring Marius Weyers and Sandra Prinsloo in supporting roles as George and Jacoba.
Weyers leans into the old-world feel of Die Verhaal van Racheltjie De Beer as if he’d been lifted from a black and white photo. Just as ghostly in his controlled performance, he imbues an enigmatic and timeless fairy tale quality, playing a clouded-over character with a full beard and a pipe. In a humble, hospitable and sincere turn, Weyers adds a sense of authenticity to the pious patriarch, whose self-discipline keeps him rooted in his by-the-book faith and isolated existence.
Uncle Piet in Die Seemeeu (2018)
Die Seemeeu is directed by Christiaan Olwagen and based on Anton Chekhov’s play The Seagull. Adapted from the modernised local stage production, the cast reprise their roles in this stellar and compelling drama of familial conflict, heartache and tragedy. A visionary director, Olwagen brings his trademark continuous shooting style to bring spontaneity to the camera’s roving eye. While centred on an actress and her brother, this ensemble is all the richer with Marius Weyers as wheelchair-bound Uncle Piet.
A patriarchal figure who remains at the head of the table, Weyers ensures Piet is unaffected and present in the moment. In a perceptive turn of great comic timing, Weyers gives the conventional Oom texture through his grouchy disposition and intermittent breathlessness. Sporting a cardigan and tie, his pessimistic outlook is seasoned by his many props including a wheelchair, smoking pipe, walking stick and asthma pump. This role reinforces just how generous Weyers is as an actor: a real team player and vessel for pure and intentional performance.
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