Showmax has just released the hilarious trailer for Die Onderonsie (aka The Quarrel), premiering next Friday, 1 December 2023.
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 is written by rising star Morné Strydom, who also wrote and directed the wonderfully quirky short film Twintig Tone in ‘n Hangkas, which earned Pietie a Best Actor nomination at last year’s Silwerskerm Awards, among other accolades.
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.
Genevieve Terblanche caught up with Pietie to find out more about his role as Nic in the Showmax murder mystery comedy.
Tell us about the mansion where Die Onderonsie is largely set. It’s an amazing setting.
That house we found, I think it might be a bit of a swingers’ den… which is very suited to the project because it is a decadent, crazy kind of movie. The house is full of all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff and the WiFi password is Porn Star. Everything suggested that there were some interesting Saturday nights at this house, which fitted into the movie quite well. I hope I don’t get in trouble for this, but there were many, many rooms, and lots of them had just cushions and interesting shaped objects everywhere, and mannequins. It felt like some kind of museum you’d find in Amsterdam.
Do you have someone that you would cover up a murder for or bury a body with?
Probably my wife and two dogs? I know their spirit. I know they meant well. It could be one big misunderstanding. I’d blame the world for it.
You play Nic, the drummer in the band, in Die Onderonsie. In real life, do you play an instrument or sing?
I can play a little bit of guitar and I can sing relatively badly. I was in a band in high school, and we were embarrassingly bad. And also, we were not very liked. We were like 100% attitude and 0% talent. And for four kids who were supposed to be humble Afrikaans boys, it didn’t go down very well. In our school, we were public enemy number one. The band was highly loathed… and self-loathed as well. It was called Saag My Grasperk, but was also once loudly called Saag My Ore Af by a schoolkid in the audience!
What was it like working with veteran actor David James?
David James, we all know, is a weird, wild and wonderful character. He is. He’s got quite an intense energy as a person. I mean it in a positive way, but he’s a colourful character. I think lots of actors are.
What I really can say about him is that he takes his work seriously. He comes to the set very prepared. He wants the best for the project. He wants to add value as much as he can. For instance, there were a few scenes where he was in a swimming pool. He was in that pool for, I think, about three hours. And later on, he was almost blue in the face. He was so cold, but he would be smoking cigarettes in the pool and eating things in the pool, but he wouldn’t get out because he was so committed to the director getting the exact shot they needed. And he would be like, “Let’s go again! Let’s plug in. Let’s get the shot. Let’s get it perfect. Whatever you want.” He really does go 110% when it comes to his work, and I appreciate that.
You had a bit of pool time yourself. What was more nerve-wracking: filming running around in your underwear or singing in the pool?
Running around in my underwear. I have no illusions about my singing capabilities, so I don’t feel the pressure to do it perfectly. When I sing, I just sort of belt it out because I know no one’s expecting much. I’m not a singer so I don’t have any standards to uphold. But running around in your underwear is always a bit of a self-conscious moment; it doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, except if you’re maybe a model or a bodybuilder. Being in my underwear in the cold at night in and around the pool was quite interesting, especially because my boxer briefs are also very wild and colourful. This character has quite a bit of boldness in him, and I’m a bit more reserved in that way.
The boxer briefs are an interesting piece of wardrobe. Were they key to who he is?
Yes! Philip, the director, very specifically chose that piece of wardrobe. One doesn’t want to give cliché, overt statements about stereotypes or whatever. But this was the one key that the director felt highlights the flamboyance of this character. They had two or three sets because I had to jump in the pool with them. I actually kept the underwear; I still wear it regularly, so I suppose that flamboyance has sort of spilled over to me.
When Nic is in the garden rubbing stuff on his face, what was that made of?
Well, the “war paint” is supposed to be mud. The makeup artists spent quite a bit of time on that. I can’t actually remember, but it was like a mixture of fake blood and gravel and soil. And I’m not exactly sure what the product was, but it was quite a few things. I’d be mic’d up, sitting in makeup with my flamboyant boxer briefs, and there were all kinds of bloody, messy, muddy, sticky things going onto my body!
Since this is Die Onderonsie, the characters do come to blows. When last did you have a full-on, physical fight with someone? Siblings count…
I’m glad that you say siblings count because I’m quite a pacifist. Not in terms of philosophy: I’m just not a very violent or physically abrasive person. But I have punched my brother in the face. I was trying to get into his car when he was at university, and as I put my first foot in, he started accelerating on purpose, to try and throw me in more ways than one. So I walked to his side, the window was open, and I punched him in the face, and I got back into the car. And I remember he was rattled. I think I’m so nonviolent that when I give one punch, myself and the other person are so surprised and shocked that it actually happened, that we all just kind of freeze and move on with our life because we’re like, “This must be serious. Why did he punch?” I’m not a fighting kind of person, but I am afraid of what happens when I go into a blind rage because when we don’t think and we just react on instinct, anything can happen.
Anything you’d like to add about Die Onderonsie?
It sounds like a big cliché, but I really think there’s some wild entertainment for everybody: some comedy, some thrilling moments, and a diverse cast. There’s a lovely performance by one of my English actor friends, Dean Goldblum. He’s the pool boy, Chad, and he’s very funny. The movie has subtitles in English. And I’m just thinking of the Springboks, who just won the World Cup with a diverse group. So Die Onderonsie is really not only a movie for Afrikaans people, just because it has an Afrikaans name. I’d really like it if English people gave it a go as well because I think it’s an absolute jewel.