Celebrated Hollywood-based South African actor Sharlto Copley, who plays Martin Battles in the just-released American survival thriller Beast, has revealed a huge chunk of the thriller was filmed in South Africa.
During an exclusive interview with Brian Aseli of KTN News, the movie star praised Africa terming it a beautiful continent with amazing scenery. He said it was a thrill acting his role that brings him out as a game reserve manager, wildlife biologist and ardent anti-poacher.
Having played other major roles in movies like the Academy Award-nominated science fiction film District 9, the 2010 adaptation of The A-Team, science fiction films Elysium and Europa Report as well as the dark fantasy adventure film Maleficent, the 48-year-old said the feeling around the Beast set was more natural and that it helped portray Africa in a more natural way. He termed the feeling of being on the set of the film as ‘trapped’ in between the scenes.
“We spent a lot of time in the car. We were on location every time so we only did greenscreen a few times. The vast majority of the movie, actually 98 percent of the film we were in the environment,” he said.
Beast, one of the most anticipated movies of 2022 was released yesterday with major premier red-carpet events being hosted in South Africa concurrently with the action that was taking place abroad.
Narrating how a real-life set for such a pulse-pounding thriller; about a father and his two teenage daughters who find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion feels like, Copley shared how one day he walked into the set and found a caution tape reading ‘be careful of the snakes’.
“One day we come to the set and there’s a caution tape ‘be careful of the snakes’ and there you have two snakes half mating. It was that kind of environment, really immersive. You can actually watch this film in a cinema, it plays really well on a big screen,” he remarked.
Talking about being on set with other A-lister actors such as Idris Elba who plays Dr. Nate Samuels, a father who is in a difficult situation emotionally with his daughters, Copley admitted that it did not take long to blend with Idris to bring to life their characters.
“Sometimes it is less work to make that connection as actors. With Idris energetically earlier on, there was something good about him. He’s really a genuine person. He was very much interested in portraying Africa in a sort of accurate way. I really enjoyed working with him,” he noted.
Speaking about the film in the same interview, Leah Jeffries and Iyana Halley who played Norah Samuels and Meredith “Mare” Samuels admitted that preparing for an on-set film in a real environment was not easy but with determination and support from each other they both delivered beyond their expectations on the roles.
Beast rotates around a family that is in mortal danger and must fight for their lives. In the film, a father and two daughters are undergoing a transformation of their own after the matriarch has died of cancer. The father returns to his homeland in Africa with his two daughters, Meredith and Norah, to pay homage to his late wife.
Recently widowed, now arrives in South Africa where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with the two young daughters. The adventure starts at a game reserve managed by an old family friend and fellow wildlife biologist. Soon a ferocious wild lion, craving human flesh, begins attacking them and killing anyone in its path.
The film brings out a theme of human and wildlife conflict. This comes to play in the film when hunters forcefully separate out alpha lions by killing other members of their pack, and thus creating rogue lions. The film is an examination of what happens when a rogue lion discovers who the real enemy is.
The filmmakers led by Executive Producers Bernard Bellew and Jaime Primak Sullivan, decided to shoot the film in South Africa, in real environments to anchor the film in reality and make the terror feel almost unbearably real.