2 March 2016
After becoming a household name in South Africa as the lovable Bart in the
SABC2 soap drama 7de Laan, actor Neil Sandilands is set to become a
household name in the United States, landing regular roles in The 100
and a new series, Hap & Leonard.
Sandilands went to Los Angeles in 2007 to try his luck on the notoriously
competitive acting circuit. In 2010, he featured in an episode of House
MD, but soon ran out of
luck. Returning to South Africa to star in a number
of popular Afrikaans films, including the award-winning drama Die Ballade
van Robbie de Wee, he returned to Hollywood in 2014, determined to make
NEIL SANDILANDS REEL from
Neil Sandilands on Vimeo.
"I had to revert to other disciplines such as directing and post-production and
sometimes built fences for my neighbours or some other unmentionable activities to
simply keep the wolf at bay," Sandilands told News24.
In January 2015, he had a recurring role on the 1980s-themed spy drama
The Americans, which helped to boost his CV. From that, he
two more regular roles on the teen sci-fi drama The 100 and a new
series produced by Robert Redford's Sundance TV channel called Hap &
Leonard. It starts on 2 March 2016 in the US.
While Sandilands struggled with rejection in Hollywood, describing the casting
process as an "unforgiving craft", his slow-burning tenacity has eventually paid off.
"There's no manual," he explains about being an unknown actor in the Hollywood
casting machine. "It is an inexact, non-verifiable science… I simply try to give it my
all and be as best prepared as possible. I'm always off-book (not reading from the
script)… if you strike out on 99 half-truths, you may just sneak one moment of
clarity past them." Which is how he got the role on The 100.
In The 100, a series about delinquent
teenagers sent back to
Earth 97 years after the apocalypse, Sandilands plays the role of Titus, political
adviser and mythological flame-keeper of the Grounder organisation. He stars
alongside other regular TV character actors such as Isaiah Washington
(Grey's Anatomy) and Paige Turco (Person of Interest).
Reaction to Sandilands' appearance on The 100 on South African
television last month ignited Twitter, proving how popular his character on 7de Laan
Sandilands hopes that the show, now in its third season, will be renewed for a
fourth and that his character's pivotal role will remain relevant. "The show has
grown exponentially (with a good social media presence). It has become hugely
successful cult television," says Sandilands.
Hap & Leonard
As the newest series for independent film and television network Sundance TV,
Hap & Leonard is already gaining interest and industry buzz as one of
the more innovative and well written TV dramas. Based on the cult books
by Joe R
Lansdale, described as "Elmore Leonard in Texas", the show follows the adventures
of two wise-cracking, crime-fighting best friends in the Lone Star State in the
Sandilands plays Paco, a disfigured radical hippie on the run from the FBI who
two main characters in a search for sunken treasure. The cast includes Christina
(Mad Men) and Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk
Empire). Sandilands is looking forward to seeing the show challenge the
already crowded and ever-evolving television narrative culture brought on by the
rise of Netflix and HBO.
But would Sandilands consider returning to South
Africa to star in local
productions, and help the film and television industry operate on the same
"Absolutely," he concludes, "it remains the work I am most naturally suited to
do. (South Africa) is my motherland, Afrikaans is the tongue of my mother."
Neil Sandilands is a South African actor best known for his role as lovable deli owner Bart Kruger in the SABC2 soapie 7de Laan during the early 2000s. He has since tried his luck in Hollywood, scoring roles in series House MD, The Americans, The 100 and Hap & Leonard. (Image: Sundance TV)