- David James (South African actor)
David James at the November 2009 screening of The Ultimate Gift for South African charity Faces of Hope.
Born October 28, 1972
Occupation Actor Years active 2001–present
David James (born October 28, 1972) is a South African film, theater, and television actor known mainly for playing the villainous Koobus Venter in the 2009 Oscar-nominated science fiction film District 9.
James grew up in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa, on a wine farm. He has an older sister, Lorraine, who owns and operates a vacation resort property in Paarl. His family were conservatives and separatists, his father a Dutch Reformed man, whereas James was liberal. He and his family also clashed early on regarding his choice of careers. As a young man, James struck a bargain with his family that if he were to letter in sports, he could then pursue his choice of studies. After accomplishing this and after his tour of duty in the military, he chose to study acting.
James has assisted in fundraising for Faces of Hope, a local South African charity that raises money for those with life-threatening illnesses that do not have adequate medical coverage or funds to pay for their treatments. In April 2010, an article regarding Faces of Hope and his participation was featured in O: The Oprah Magazine South African edition.
James appeared as a celebrity judge for the February 2010 young thespians "High Flyer" contest at Redhill School in Johannesburg. Coincidentally, this is the same private school that his District 9 costar Sharlto Copley and director Neill Blomkamp both previously attended. In March 2010 James was a celebrity presenter at the Naledi Theatre Awards, which recognizes excellence in South African Professional Live Theatre and the Performing Arts.
Training and career
James studied acting, singing, dancing, and even the flute early on. One of his instructors was the famous Joan Brickhill, a "grand dame" of South African theater and a Tony Award-nominated choreographer, under whom James studied from 1997 through 2001. During this time he also worked selling cars, washing cars, cleaning pools, and even caring for the elderly.
On stage he has costarred in productions of Kiss Me Kate, Charlotte's Web, A Picture of Dorian Gray, and My Fair Lady, and others, as well as in the locally written plays Fangs and Everybody Else is F***ing Perfect. He has also appeared in numerous commercials and corporate promotional materials, including ads and promotions for Toys 'R Us, Ford, Compaq, and Cipler Insurance.
James has also appeared in many South African television series and soaps, including roles in Criminal Minds, Snitch, Jozi Street, Binnelanders, Wild at Heart, and Isidingo, where from 2004-2006 he portrayed a hired assassin called Mad Dog.
Perhaps his best known role to date is that of Koobus Venter, the ruthless colonel that heads up the military arm of the fictional Multi-National United (MNU) in the 2009 film District 9.
To prepare for the role, James took a course of steroids to put on 10kg (approx. 22lbs) of muscle. His actual experience in the military made him comfortable with the various weapons and battle sequences, but he did struggle with the amount of profanity expected of him. While his was only a supporting role, it did still garner the attention of critics; The Coventry Telegraph (UK) says, "David James is spot on as the merciless Colonel Venter."
In 2010, in Rivonia Trial, James portrayed Joel Joffe, the attorney that represented Nelson Mandela in the infamous 1963-64 anti-apartheid trials of the same name. The play was generally well-received critically and described by the State Theatre as being a "complete sell-out." Also that year, he portrayed Afrikaner Sergeant Hattingh in a production of Biko: Where the Soul Resides, the story of South African martyr Steven Bantu Biko. It is widely believed that Biko died at the hands of Hattingh during police interrogations in 1977.
Later in 2010 he costarred in Jock of the Bushveld - the Musical, the story of a dog lost in the African bush, where he portrayed one of three hungry yet comical vultures waiting for the animal to become dinner. The large-scale play itself was lauded by critics, as were all the performers.
In September 2010, James was featured in an episode of the South African television series Solving It, a true-crime re-enactment drama that airs on the SABC. In 2010 James also had a role in the South African modern-day Twilight-esque vampire film Eternity. As with the movie District 9, James was working with a first-time feature film director, Chris dos Santos, who surprisingly admitted in one interview that he "hadn't had a chance" to talk to James about his character until after filming began. Not surprisingly, unlike the overall acclaim received for District 9, Eternity was lambasted by critics.
In January 2011 James played Dieter, one of a gang of ruthless kidnappers, in the British miniseries Kidnap and Ransom. In April and May of 2011, he reprised his role as Joel Joffe in an encore presentation of Rivonia Trial at the State Theatre in Pretoria. As with its previous showing, the play received generally positive reviews. James also filmed a costarring part in Angus Buchan's Ordinary People, the story of South African preacher Angus Buchan. The movie is scheduled for release in spring of 2012.
- ^ a b c d Fitzpatrick, Marida (09/12/2009), "Knoppie om af te sit werk toe nie", Beeld, http://www.beeld.com/In-Diepte/Nuus/Knoppie-om-af-te-sit-werk-toe-nie-20090912
- ^ "Casa Consani terra del Vino". http://winerouteaccommodation.co.za/.
- ^ "Moral Fibre Interviews Cast of District 9". Moral Fibre. 2009. http://zoopy.com/q/1fl4.
- ^ "Faces of Hope". http://facesofhope.co.za/.
- ^ "Redhill School: High Flyer" (PDF). March 5, 2010. http://www.redhill.co.za/index.php?pageid=3&subpage=12.
- ^ Naledi Theatre Awards, 2010, http://www.naleditheatreawards.org.za/winners2009.htm
- ^ a b c Contractors Artists Johannesburg, http://www.contractors.org.za/
- ^ Bentley, David (September 14 2009). "Film review: Why you must see District 9". Coventry Telegraph (UK). http://blogs.coventrytelegraph.net/thegeekfiles/2009/09/movie-review-why-you-must-see.html. Retrieved October 15 2010.
- ^ Tsumele, Edward (July 23 2010), "The Rivonia Trial: Court case on stage", Sowetan Live, http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/entertainment/timeout/2010/07/23/the-rivonia-trial-court-case-on-stage, retrieved August 4 2010
- ^ State Theatre, 2011, http://www.statetheatre.co.za/Default.aspx?tabid=86
- ^ Sassen, Robyn (September 12 2010), "This Jock sings in the veld", Times Live, http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/article653202.ece/This-Jock-sings-in-the-veld, retrieved October 15 2010
- ^ Carstens, Sonja (August 12 2002), "Kritzinger's death wish", News 24, http://www.news24.com/xArchive/Archive/Kritzingers-death-wish-20020812, retrieved October 15 2010
- ^ Fink, Sally, "Vampires? We've Been Having It", The Callsheet, http://www.thecallsheet.co.za/v/1768, retrieved January 25, 2011
- ^ Edmunds, Gayle, "Eternity is Bound to Bite the Dust", City Press, http://www.citypress.co.za/Entertainment/News/Movie-review-Eternity-is-bound-to-bite-the-dust-20101223, retrieved January 25, 2011
- ^ Wollaston, Sam, "TV Review", The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2011/jan/14/human-planet-kidnap-ransom-review, retrieved January 25, 2011
- ^ Moncho, Kgomotso (April 12 2011), "A Cause for Celebration", IOL, http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/what-s-on/gauteng/a-cause-for-celebration-1.1055421, retrieved May 3, 2011
- ^ Moncho, Kgomotso (April 19 2011), "SA’s history on trial in reworked staging", IOL, http://www.iol.co.za/tonight/what-s-on/gauteng/sa-s-history-on-trial-in-reworked-staging-1.1058620, retrieved August 4, 2011
- ^ Angus Buchan's Ordinary People, http://ordinarypeoplethemovie.blogspot.com/
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