Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No "Proper" Actor in South Africa?

Black Snob I'm going to bite you: O RLY?? Luvvie darling I'm also going to bite you: iRefuse to accept that the reason big budget motion pictures don't use African-born actors is because there aren't any. No, there are plenty. But the fact that they're a bunch of nobody's reduces their suitability for playing lead protagonists for such high-scale movie projects.

This was just one of the illogical comments published at the on the message board for the movie Invictus. Where there were complaints about Morgan Freeman's lousy accent. Which from what I've seen in the trailer really is off to say the least. And yes, we all know he is the crème de la crème of the veteran Hollywood fold but even Denzel (no surname needed, that's how larger than life he is) faltered with his role as Steve Biko in Cry Freedom. With that high-pitched fantastical "imitation" of a South African accent. What was meant to be a stern biopic of an extremely important figure in the South African freedom struggle turned into somewhat of a comedic interpretation of this man's life (something I'd imagine Dave Chapelle performing in one of his 15 minute skits). It leaves many thinking, "Why not just use African actors?"

Alot of it probably has to do with African American actors being recognisable and therefore better able to draw the public's attention. That's an obvious one. But why can't they just follow Don Cheadle and Forrest Whitaker's examples and take the time to really study the accents and dialects, master them and carry them out properly in their portrayals. It's more than just vying for an Oscar, just the mere fact of acknowledging the intricacy and uniqueness of each manner of speech on the continent that differ from location to location will be a huge leap for Hollywood. If using unknowns is too risky at least whip those American tongues into shape with proper language training from the locals themselves. Don't forget to pay them properly for their tutoring services.

As for Jennifer Hudson playing Winnie Mandela in director, Darrel Roodt's upcoming project. I'm not too sure what to expect but I believe in her acting abilities. Let's be honest, the movie's earnings may not be that great if they chose to cast a locally-known South African actress in place of J.Hudson. She did win an Oscar and people always stand up and listen when Oscar winners happen to appear.

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