Gill Gimberg shares a few thoughts with Danny Keogh, now starring in Regard van den Bergh's Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer, and Barry Kruger, the real Horse Whisperer.
How did you come to play the role of Barrie?
Regardt approached me to play the part. I liked the script and the part, so I accepted.
What was it like playing a real, live person in a film?
Daunting! Barrie was there while we were filming and sometimes I'd have to go back to the script; play the character as it was written and try to forget about the real Barrie on set. The others were there too: the real Pierre and Annette. But it worked well; nobody interfered.
So, having Barrie there didn't change the way you played his character?
Not really. Although he had a lot of influence on the riding scenes.
Did you do many of them yourself?
Yes. And they were all Barrie's horses so he knew them all. He'd coach me beforehand, tell me how to ride the horse I was on - how it would behave and react. He also showed me how to hold the reins and sit - not the riding school way I was taught, but a way that would look right in the film. He had a lot of input in the riding side.
Were there a lot of changes to the script once you all arrived in Noenieput and met up with Barrie?
No, not to my part, anyway. I don't think there were many changes at all.
What was it like, filming in the Kalahari? It must have been hard. Did you have to rough it?
It was cold, but we were comfortable. We had rooms in the local farmhouses and the farmers really looked after us. They were very friendly and invited us for braais. It did give me some insight into what it's like to live in such a remote place. The dryness, the lack of water, and the distances the people have to travel to go anywhere. In Noenieput there's only one shop and one public telephone. I was only there for two-and-a-half weeks, though. Filming my part went quite quickly.
Your meeting in the film with the local San people - did you find it hard to communicate?
Not really. They spoke Afrikaans. It was also a very short scene.
I was impressed by your climbing the windmill. Was that difficult for you to do?
No. I once had to fall off a windmill in a low-budget film. That was hard! We had no stuntmen because the budget was too small and I was very scared. It was a long way to fall.
How did you find working with Regardt? Have you worked with him before?
Yes, we worked together on a series in 2005. We get on well. He's open to suggestions, to changes, if you really think something should be played differently.
I was very impressed. He's a brilliant young actor.
Tell me a bit about your career before Tornado.
I started off in the theatre business, but I was in stage management. I was with Barney Simon right at the inception of the Market Theatre. He's the one who convinced me to try acting.
That must have been exciting - working with Barney Simon in the apartheid years.
Yes. Sometimes productions were banned. I haven't been on the stage for years, but I do miss the theatre. And my work as a stage hand. But now I'm an actor.
Do you feel you learned anything from the role of Barrie in Tornado?
Mainly about horses. I learned that if you're going to do a scene you should first ride it, so that you and your horse can get used to the route, the ground, before you need to do the filming. I worry about holes. Sometimes actors get their necks broken in falls from horses on set. And it's really difficult to get your horse to stop in the right place for the cameras. Also getting them to stand still for filming is not easy. So, yes, I learned a lot about working with horses.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yes, I am, but the project is still being kept secret. I do think it's going to be good though.
How do you see the South African movie business?
We have so many good stories, but a lot of them are being done by the Americans. I think it's a real pity that we lost Disgrace, although John Malkovitch will probably be very good in the lead role. But I do think we have South African talent and certainly enough good stories. We need to encourage film makers in this country and support them.
BARRY KRUGER TALKS ABOUT THE FILM
Tell me about the story and how the script came to be written.
The story of Pierre and Tornado and me in the desert was told to someone in the music business; I think it was Anita Erasmus, from Everland. Peter Lamberti came to hear about it and wanted to make a documentary about it. I believe he did - for National Geographic - but nothing came of it. Then he decided to make a movie and they found a scriptwriter, Paul, who came and visited me and I told him the story. I don't know why he didn't write the screenplay eventually, but they managed to raise the money to film and then Darron took over the writing. Regardt came to Johannesburg for one or two days and we talked. I explained everything to him in detail.
Did they stick very closely to the true story in the film script?
Yes, there were only one or two scenes that didn't happen in the real story. Regardt explained the reason to me, and I understood why he needed to change things. He felt he needed to bring in more drama. One of these was where Pierre became fed up with the horse and left the farm. That didn't happen in the real story. But it works well in the film.
Have you seen the film? Are you happy with it?
No. I haven't seen the full movie yet, but I've seen parts of it during the production process and I'm very excited about it. It's a good story. I'm a story teller, you know. I'm on the stage telling stories every month - twice a month. Before we started filming, I invited Regardt and the whole crew down to one of my shows. I was talking at a women's camp - there were 400 ladies. They all came to listen and I told the story, but every time I tell it, it's different. There are so many different angles, so many different aspects I can concentrate on.
You know they originally wanted to call the movie 'The silence between'. But in the end they named it after the horse and it's a good name. But it really is about the silence. I made Pierre sit in the kraal every night with the horse, until Tornado came to him. Silence is one of the themes.
Tell me about the real Tornado.
The horse was diagnosed at Onderstepoort. He had the best bloodlines, but he was a very troubled horse: it was depression. He used to kick and bite himself so that he was full of sores. And he was sterile. I don't think his owners were cruel to him; it was just that they had a lot of horses and they didn't spend time with them; didn't see what was going on in the stable when they weren't around. The horse we used in the movie, Kashmir, was also beautiful and very well behaved.
And the boy?
Pierre was also depressed; he used to hurt himself punching the wall. So there was a parallel between the horse and the boy.
That came out very well in the film. How did you feel, watching Danny playing you in the movie?
The Barrie in the movie is a purely fictional character. I didn't see myself in the character at all.
I believe you're travelling at the moment?
Yes, I'm on my way to Pretoria, as part of the road show for the film. Kashmir is coming with me, so we're together here.
Just like the story of Tornado: a man and a horse on a journey.
READ MORE ABOUT TORNADO AND THE KALAHARI HORSE WHISPERER
READ AN INTERVIEW WITH QUENTIN KROG
READ MORE: THE CAST AND CREW TALK ABOUT MAKING TORNADO
READ AN INTERVIEW WITH REGARDT VAN DEN BERGH