Casting everyone’s favorite wait-are-they-actually-serious? Afrikaans rap duo Die Antwoord in Chappie certainly adds a level of novelty value to a movie that already looks like a South African remake of Short Circuit where the robot throws ninja stars. But for Chappie‘s filmmakers and other actors, obtaining that novelty value required spending hours on set with two people who were not only not actors but unpredictable people. It’d be like if Short Circuit had cast an actual rap group called “Los Locos” as themselves just to see what would happen.
At least according to actor Brandon Auret, who has worked on all of Neill Blomkamp’s films so far, working with Ninja, aka Watkin Tudor Jones, the male half of Die Antwoord, was no picnic. Auret’s attempt to self-censor was palpable in a recent interview with The Movies.co.za, during which he nonetheless said:
“Everyone knows the relationship that I have with Waddy. I don’t care much for him. I don’t care much for his band, I don’t care much for anything that he does. I did, very much so, I was very excited to meet the guy, I was a massive fan of Max Normal, but… you know, when somebody comes and feels that they have the right to tell you how to do your job? Yeah, it became an issue. But the kind of tension that we had off set was great for the film.”
His characterization of Ninja being a general pain in the ass and telling the other actors how to act does dovetail with a South African tabloid report from about a year ago that was initially denied by the associated spokespeople. That report said Ninja/Waddy was such a pain that Blomkamp went so far as reducing his role and writing him out of scenes to keep him off the set. That’s obviously unconfirmed, but I can tell you that Die Antwoord is nowhere to be found in Chappie‘s press kits (not pictured at any of the premiere photo calls), and the one promo image (out of 24) that includes Ninja shows him with his back to the camera. He’s in the first trailer for two seconds and not in the second at all. Not exactly the way you’d advertise a stunt casting move you were really proud of.
Here’s some of that tabloid report:
“He is pure evil,” said a female member of the crew. And she is not the only one to use the phrase. […]
“That pile of sh*t” is how one cast member now refers to Ninja.
“The other actors were gatvol. He told them how to do their scenes. He’d call and say they were doing it wrong and tell them how to do it,” said a source.
Another said Ninja sent emails to this effect to other actors.
Two actors particularly targeted by Ninja’s director complex allegedly included US actor Jose Pablo Cantillo and local star Brandon Auret.
A source said: “Brandon is the greatest actor on set, calm and present. You must know that if it gets to a point where he wants to hit Ninja he’s so angry, there was a serious problem.”
City Press was told that Ninja’s own performance grew increasingly violent and physical and departed from the script.
Yet Ninja “wanted to phone Blomkamp every five minutes” to discuss his character. […]
It is claimed by two sources that Ninja sent explicit photos – in the act of having fellatio performed on himself – to at least one female member of the set.
Several sources say he hit on female cast and crew, even in front of his partner Yo-landi.
He invited them to Cape Town “telling them they would get a hotel room and hire prostitutes to join them”, said a source.
Another source said Ninja made a pest of himself with local model and actress Tanit Phoenix. […]
“Die Antwoord are vegan and they refused to eat the vegetarian food on set. They made their driver go into town from Soweto every day to fetch special food.”
Ooh, demanding $40 champagne, those prima donnas. “Make sure the coffee is Starbucks or I walk! I don’t care how hard it is to find!”
Of course, take all that with a grain of salt, because it sounds pretty much exactly like the image Die Antwoord was already trying to present. “On-set tension?” Dude literally has “tension” (well, “ten$ion”) tattooed on his chest. I wouldn’t be surprised if their next album was called “Pure Evil” and had a picture of Ninja getting blown on the cover.