Cape Town is a powerful six-part mini-series that brings life to bestselling author Deon Meyer’s Dead Before Dying, starring Trond Espen Seim and Boris Kodjoe. And according to Deon himself, it is the “best TV series ever made
Set against the dramatic and beautiful backdrop of Cape Town, the city proves to be a character in itself in the series: culturally rich and beautiful, but also fractured and harbouring dark secrets behind its glamorous facade.
“This is probably the best TV series that has ever been made in our country, and I just couldn’t be more proud,” said Deon at a press screening, which took place at one of South Africa’s most expensive properties, the Enigma mansion in Camps Bay.
Hidden by palm trees and high walls, the Enigma mansion plays a vital role in Cape Town as parts of the series were filmed there. So it was only fitting that the press screening was hosted there, which made it feel like the cameras hadn’t stopped rolling given that the property owns an air of intrigue that’s impossible to forget.
Part of the chase…
On arrival, we got a very exciting opportunity to be part of the chase, similar to the one in the mini-series, where we took on the role of detectives to solve a very serious homicide case. We were handed case files, with all the information needed to crack the investigation. We were also given the opportunity to interview four “suspects,” who played along very well. At the end, we had to say who the murderer was, backed by a realistic and logical theory.
Which is basically one of the gripping story lines viewers can look forward to in the mini-series, which follows two very different detectives, Mat Joubert (played by Trond) and Sanctus Snook (played by Boris), who are assigned two major cases: a series of brutal murders involving men wearing masks of famous people and the deaths and disappearances of young European women.
Trond’s struggle with the South African accent
“My first reaction was that the book is great. Or else I wouldn’t have done it,” said Trond, who is from Norway, when asked why he agreed to join the cast of Cape Town.
“The best part of the entire filming experience was working here, and I think the best day was the first day,” he added, before admitting that one of the challenges he faced was getting the South African dialect and accent right.
He revealed that while he isn’t exactly fond of speaking English, he had no choice but to put in the effort to learn the accent and sound flawless through weekly Skype sessions with a tutor from SA.
“The most important thing was to sound like I am from here,” he explained
Trond’s character, Mat, used to be the best in the business of detective work, until his wife was murdered while on the job. Now overweight and disillusioned – with a drinking problem to boot – he is faced with an ultimatum from his new chief: to shape up or ship out.
Mat is assigned a new partner, Boris’ character, Sanctus, who is a graduate of the elite unit HAWKS and former colleague of his wife Lara. Mat instinctively does not like the sleek ex-elite cop and has a hard time believing the pairing is a coincidence.
The Boris Kodjoe and Trond Espen bromance flourishes
Deon could hardly shy away from singing Boris and Trond’s praises, commending the impressive work they put into the series.
“They are both such fantastic actors. They did very well. For an American like Boris to do the South African accent so well and even a bit of Cape-flats South African accent, I thought was an exceptional accomplishment.
“They really sell it. I like the good relationship between the two characters on screen,” he gushed.
While they might not like each other much in the mini-series, Trond guaranteed us that he has a great working relationship with Boris. This is despite the fact that Boris wakes up very early in the morning, drinks water and works out, while Trond doesn’t.
“He’s a hardworking actor and we had a fantastic time,” he revealed.
International TV show
Cape Town is made by German production all-in-production, and is produced by Annette Reeker, who opened up about the challenges that came with making the mini-series.
“It took a while to finance, because it’s difficult to get the money. We worked a long time on this,” she said, before pointing out that after getting funded, they extended the story to make it a mini-series, as opposed to doing two 90-minute films, as they had initially planned.
“Annette became the first German producer to work outside the typical German studio and broadcast system. She was incredibly brave to take this book and turn it into an independent series. She has changed the face of German television,” Deon added.
More to come
It is no secret that Deon trusted Annette with retelling the story from his book, which was originally published in Afrikaans in 1994.
He claimed that, besides his little cameo with Boris and a few opinions here and there, he was not involved in the production of the series.
“I was not involved at all in the production and creativity of the mini-series. My philosophy is that it is my job to write the book and the producer’s job to make the best TV series. I don’t think an author is objective enough to have an opinion on what goes into the series.”
“An author should keep his hands off.”
Deon further revealed that he is “very happy with the end results,” so much so that Annette and all-in-production have already started working on the second season of the show.