Listen: Tobie Cronjé on five decades as an actor, joker


At the time, Tobie Cronjé was asked to play the lead role of Hans Hans crosses the Rubicon to interpret. However, this seasoned actor agreed – that role was destined for none other than Pierre van Pletzen.

Tobie’s path with Hans already started in 2020 when he did a book reading of this famous novel, written by Rudie van Rensburg, for RSG.

His convincing reading was precisely why Corné and René van Rooyen, who were responsible for the movie version of the book, first approached him to play the role of Hans.

However, he simply did not think that his long, thin body fit the visual image of Hans, Tobie tells in RNews’s studio.

“Hans was a rugby player, short and fresh. Changing it to a tall man, with a long jaw, just didn’t work.”

He thought about the matter for a long time, and proposed an ideal candidate to the Van Rooyens: Pierre van Pletzen.

“And there Pierre wins the award for best actor at the Silver Screen Festival Awards! I was so proud of him and happy that he got it, and I was just as happy that I introduced him.”

Tobie’s sense of humor is similar to Rudie’s, and this is precisely why he finds Hans’ story so appealing. Tobie understands the jokes, the way Rudie thinks and especially how Rudie views older people.

Tobie has never been someone who thought that age is a sign that a person should be restricted, something he has in common with Rudie.

“He has a wonderful way of looking at old people, to see how they don’t want to be pushed into boxes. One’s freedom is important. Even if we lose it physically, it is unnecessary to lose it mentally.”

Tobie admits that he himself stood at the door of retirement before he was asked to be part of Hans crosses the Rubicon to be its movie version. Opportunities are few and far between, and he thought that if he drastically scaled back his lifestyle, he could embark on retirement.

However, Corné’s offer drew him back to the acting world he loves, the world he has called home for the past five decades.

“I realized that I am an actor in my blood and in my bones. I get inspired and alive when I act. I enjoy it so much that I decided never to stop.”

This 74-year-old veteran actor admits that he will never be too old to learn new acting techniques. He even during the filming of Hans crosses the Rubicon learned quite a few lessons from Nicole Hanekom, with whom he had never worked before.

He has decided that retirement is not for him, and although he will begin to accept fewer productions, he will never really lose speed. However, when it comes to learning words, he confesses that he can no longer do it so fluently and quickly.

Tobie is delighted that Hans crosses the Rubicon will hit movie theaters nationwide later this month.

“It’s a completely different experience than watching it on the TV screen,” he says.

“It is sitting in a theater and watching the movie from A to Z without interruptions, commercials, someone calling you on the mobile, your dog barking or someone knocking on the door. It makes a big difference, and it’s like an escape or even meditation for me.”

A career spanning five decades

In 1974, Tobie starred in his first movie. It was Katinka Heyns’s Sergeant and the Tiger Mothand still stands out to him today as one of his career highlights.

“It was an incredible experience to suddenly have to learn everything about a camera, you know, TV didn’t exist then,” he recalls.

“We didn’t get that much exposure to how a movie is made, so it was an incredible experience for me.”

In his career of five decades, Tobie gained particular fame for his roles in, among others Tomorrow, tomorrow; Bubble sock; William; Place in the sun; The Adventures of Joachim Verwey; The Ghost of Uniondale and The Rebellion of Lafras Verwey. He was also in dozens of plays, pantomimes and farces.

Some of his most enjoyable roles, he says, are those that have challenged him. He especially remembers the 2017 movie, The Rebellion of Lafras Verweyas one of those roles.

“I did the play years ago, when I was still young,” he says.

When Katinka Heyns approached him for the movie version of the piece, he initially refused, because “I was way too old then.”

However, the text was modified to change the character’s age, making it possible for Tobie to step into his shoes again.

Tobie was born on 3 November 1948 and grew up in Germiston. As a child, he thought that he was either going to be a doctor or a clown.

“It almost feels like I’ve become both. An actor is a bit of a clown and a bit of a doctor, because making people laugh also helps people get well.”

He played the piano since he was a child, but only started to involve himself in music as a teenager.

“We still had LPs, and when we played some of the records, I would lie on the living room floor and see a movie playing in front of me.”

After a career spanning nearly five decades, hundreds of characters and a lifetime of acting experience behind the scenes, there are two things that shape his outlook on life today:

“Don’t be prejudiced. If it can harm someone else, you have to judge, but don’t think too much about yourself,” is the first one, while the second testifies to a peaceful life.

“It’s very important to be relaxed, and not try too hard.”

  • Listen above to a full audio interview with Tobie Cronjé.
  • Hans crosses the Rubicon begins playing in cinemas September 29 this year.

Get to know Tobie Cronjé:

Watch the trailer of here Hans crosses the Rubicon: