Simoné Pretorius on Die Onderonsie – and Britney Spears

By Gen Terblanche1 December 2023

Simoné Pretorius on Die Onderonsie – and Britney Spears

Die Onderonsie (aka The Quarrel) is now streaming on Showmax. 

When five ex band-mates come together for their annual reunion, a dead body stirs up suspicion and violence among the friends. With tjommies like these, who needs enemies? 

The debut feature film from multi-award winner Philip Nolte (2023 SAFTA winner Sex in Afrikaans, Silwerskerm award winner Vossie Vergas Homself), the dark comedy co-stars SAFTA nominee Simoné Pretorius (Hotel), Binnelanders stars Pietie Beyers and Lindsey Cele, and Getroud Met Rugby stars Adrian Steyn and former Mister World South Africa Sean van Noordwyk. Also look out for 2023 Royalty Soapie Awards nominee Tsholofelo Matshaba (Kedibone in The River) as Detective Mahlangu and David James (Colonel Koobus Venter in District 9) as Thys. 

Die Onderonsie on Showmax

Die Onderonsie is produced by multi-award winners Red Pepper, the production company behind Black Reel nominee Vaya, Africa Movie Academy Awards winner Tell Me Sweet Something, and SAFTA winners Faan Se Trein and Hard To Get.  

Watch the trailer for Die Onderonsie

Genevieve Terblanche caught up with Simoné to find out more about her role as the band’s lead singer Jolene. 

What’s your favourite part of Jolene’s wardrobe?

To be honest, I would never in my life wear what she wore! She’s really quite the opposite of myself. She wore bodycon dresses that were super-tight, so I had such a hard time in her wardrobe because I hate stuff that’s tight.

But I did wear white, knee-high boots. And those were my own, so they were very comfortable! I don’t know why I have white trompoppie [drum majorette] boots. 

I love the fact that she wore these high-heeled, white leather boots for going away for a weekend in the bushveld with her friends. 

Sometimes I feel like once you put the shoes on of a character, that’s when you really step into their role. Clothing changes but there’s a specific thing about what you’ll wear as a shoe. 

Do you have someone that you would cover up a murder for or bury a body with?

I do. I’m an introvert and I have four or five close-knit friends. It’s a small group but I would literally die for them. I would kill for them. Deep, deep friendship that’s authentic and that’s real is such a scarce commodity already in the world that we live in. And now you’re in an industry where people try to leverage off of you… So when you really find the friends that know your heart, and who are there for you, regardless of anything else that comes with the package, that’s something you stick to.

Her bandbates call Jolene “Patricia Lewis” after the South African singer. Why Patricia?

 Them saying that Jolene is Patricia is not necessarily meant as a compliment. I did wonder if Gen Z would know who Patricia Lewis is, but I know that for people my age and older, especially in the Afrikaans community, she is cemented as an icon of pop stardom, with the hair [Simoné mimics Patricia tossing her long, blonde hair], the glam up and stuff. For me, she’ll always be that [Simoné sings lyrics from Ek Is Lief Vir Jou] “Doodgewone man kry ’n salaris…” – [ordinary guy gets a salary].

Can you play an instrument and/or sing? 

I can sing but I can’t play an instrument… yet. I’ve always wanted to play piano or guitar, like every other person on the planet. I would have loved to be able to play piano but I’m just not good with multitasking. Two hands doing two different things like that just breaks my brain.

So when you were fantasising about being a rock star as a kid, how did you see yourself? 

100% Britney! I was a big Britney fan. I had all of the posters and the CDs. I didn’t see myself as a rock star. See, it’s the hoofmeisie [head girl] in me. I’ll take the popstar vibe. Christina (Aguilera) was already a bit too edgy for me. I was very innocent and very naive, so I was Britney – just maybe Britney before I’m A Slave 4 You Britney, before the snake around the neck.

Jolene has a gospel pop album out – Spread Your Wings. If she was making the music she really wanted to, what would it be?

I think she wants to do a bit of that Slave 4 U (Britney Spears)! That’s the Jolene that she is on the inside, and maybe a bit of a rock chick as well. But the gospel album is just because that’s where she’s going to make her money, and she knows the market is really loyal. Especially in the Afrikaans market. People swoon over a gospel album. You could be such a hypocrite but if you bring out a gospel album your fans will absolutely love you. So she’s doing a gospel album, but she’s definitely 100% the opposite of a gospel album singer. 

What were your favourite moments in the fight scene between Jolene and Bianca (Lindsey Cele)? 

That was so hectic! We really looked forward to that fight. That’s my first fight scene! I’ve done a few slaps across the face, but this was a whole choreography, like a whole dance. The way it starts was lovely. It’s just this tension-filled moment where you don’t think Bianca’s going to do it. And then she just goes in for Jolene. And then later on, we used pans and we knocked each other on the head. That was quite funny. And there was also something about pulling on the hair. All of it was just absolute chaos. Lindsey is a good friend of mine, so I just feel so safe with her. So we really had a lot of fun.

With the scene where Jolene flirts with Chad the pool boy (Dean Goldblum), which moment nearly ended you?

I said to him something about the stars aligning and he was like, “Stars? No, sorry, baby girl; I’m an atheist.” And that was hysterical for me. The whole scene with Dean was such a highlight, it was pure comedy. I love playing opposite him. He was just so 100% committed to this pool boy character. She’s like, “You are so absolutely stupid. But okay, well, we’re leaning into this.” You can always get me with comedy, because comedy is such a difficult thing to write. It’s an easy yes for me, you can buy me over with comedy, I’m a cheapskate.

Quick-fire questions

Age: 33.

Where is she from? She grew up in Pretoria but studied in Stellenbosch, and worked in Johannesburg for 10 years before returning to Pretoria to be close to “the ouma zone” when she fell pregnant.

Where did she study? BA (Drama and Theatre Studies) at Stellenbosch University.

What have you seen her in? She won Best Newcomer at the 2014 Royalty Soapie Awards after she joined 7de Laan as Nadia Croukamp. She also plays René Spies in Binnelanders. Simoné is best known these days for her SAFTA-nominated role as Jony in comedy series Hotel, and for Irma Humpel in the real-life romantic drama, Vir die Voëls, for which she won Best Actress at the 2017 Tallgrass International Film Festival.

Is Simoné Pretorius married? Yes! You might know her as Simoné Nortmann.

Can she teach me acting? Yes, she has an acting workshop called Art of Acting, which she hosts in Pretoria. 

What are her Christmas plans? Simoné has a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler and she’s expecting her second child in January 2024, so she’ll be spending Christmas in the swimming pool “like a walrus and a killer whale, just lounging in the pool and snapping my fingers for mocktails”.