SA actor to star in two American hit shows

2016-03-01 10:20

Los Angeles - The versatile South African actor Neil Sandilands, known for his work in film, television and theatre, is currently starring in The CW channel’s hugely popular post-apocalyptic series The 100 and on 2 March he will also be seen on Sundance TV’s most recent foray into original content with its flagship series Hap & Leonard.

The series is based on the Joe R Landsdale novel Savage Season.

Sandilands plays the character Paco and is a series regular.

"I came to the USA as a Green Card holder as early as 2007, but only permanently relocated in 2014. The first audition I did was for the series House MD and I got the part. That was 2010. I wondered why people thought it so difficult to find work in Hollywood?" says Sandilands.

Any notion of success was short-lived as he experienced a drought in his American acting career. Fortunately his South African roots provided creative endeavours such as the feature films Die Ballade van Robbie de Wee, Musiek vir die Agtergrond, the Dutch film The Price of Sugar and some other roles.

The 100

"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. In January 2015 I booked a recurring guest role in The Americans. Hap & Leonard followed soon thereafter and in July 2015 I was cast in 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 advisor and mythological flame-keeper of the Grounder people. The Grounders were Doomsday Preppers who survived the apocalypse. The show stars Eliza Taylor (The November Man, Neighbours), Alycia Debnam-Carey (Fear the Walking Dead), Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy, True Crime) and Paige Turco (Damaged, Person of Interest).

"The 100, filmed in Vancouver, is in its third season and I believe The CW channel will commission a fourth since the show has grown exponentially and also regularly trends on social media platforms. It has become hugely successful cult television," says Sandilands. "Titus plays a pivotal role in season 3, but other than that, I reserve the right to remain silent."

Hap & Leonard

In Hap & Leonard Sandilands stars alongside seasoned actors James Purefoy (The Following, Episodes), Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire, 12 Years a Slave) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men, I Don’t Know How She Does It). Hap & Leonard debuts on 2 March and was filmed  in Louisiana.

"To find representation, especially good representation, in Los Angeles, is one of the biggest challenges before even getting asked to do a single audition." Sandilands is represented by the reputed Abrams Artists Agency in Los Angeles and New York.

"I have done hundreds of unsuccessful auditions and one must cultivate the capacity to process the word "no". It is a process. Well, it has been for me. This is my 26th year in the entertainment industry."

Sandilands acted as a young adolescent in South African series such as Meester and Konings during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and became “volksbesit” in the 2000’s with his legendary portayal of the beloved character Bart in 7de Laan.

"You never get used to rejection. I think you do learn simply by having the tenacity to survive the rigours of this unforgiving craft. It is preparation in itself. There’s no manual. It is an inexact, non-verifiable science, I guess. In terms of the audition process, I simply try to give it my all and be as best prepared as possible. I’m always off-book. I try to make believable choices. If you strike out on 99 half-truths, you may just sneak one moment of clarity past them. The 100. No pun intended."

Any chance that he will work in South Africa again?

"Absolutely," he says. "It remains the work I am most naturally suited to do. It is my Motherland and Afrikaans is the tongue of my mother. The script is the point of departure. I will know when I read the script and when someone has the good faith to ask me to interpret their work."

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