By Martjie Roos
Then Rev. Ben van Staden (Eric Bouwer) made his appearance in the telenovela about a month ago Deep waters made, he immediately raised eyebrows with his long hair and casual attire. In addition, he set the parishioners’ tongues wagging because he is active on the social media platforms to promote his ministry and spread the Word. The recently divorced Sanet (Nadia Valvekens) was antagonistic towards the new ‘cool’ minister from the outset, all the more because she had such a close bond with their previous preacher.
“Rev. Ben is definitely not your conventional minister,” says Eric. “He is ‘cool’ and keeps up with modern times. He uses social media to his advantage to preach the Word and not for his own gain.”
He adds that Fr. Ben is humble and also fully aware of his own faults. “He is not that ‘perfect’ priest at all and admits when he has made a mistake. He does not judge other people and treats everyone on the same level, regardless of the person’s class, race or culture. He has a lot of integrity and has no ego at all.”
Rev. Ben has a good relationship with his daughter Mari (Diandra Slabbert), whom he brings up alone. “He undoubtedly had heartache in his past, but unlike some of the other characters I’ve played before, he doesn’t have a dark past,” he adds. “Well so far it doesn’t look like there are any skeletons in his closet, but you never know with a story,” he winks. One thing is certain: there is definitely a spark between Rev. Ben and the fiery Sanet, even though they met in an unusual way: her car stopped and he had to play mechanic out of the blue. At that stage she thought he was a stranger and did not realize he was the new minister. However, Eric does not want to reveal just how accurate Cupid’s arrows are for Fr. Ben and the aggressive blonde are not going to meet in the future, and says viewers will have to see for themselves if true love will blossom between the two.
Eric (41), who grew up in Pretoria and matriculated at Menlopark High School, says that after school in 2003 he enrolled at Africa Film Drama Art (AFDA) to study drama. “But then I got an audition Egoli and gets the role of Eben Tredoux and a contract of about a year. I then stopped my drama studies.” He now realizes that at that stage he was not yet completely emotionally mature to play the role of Eben, but adds in the same breath that it was a very good learning school to join such a successful and popular soap as Egoli kicking off his career.
After Egoli followed quite a few soap operas. In 7th Avenue viewers saw him as Nardus Els and soon after he played the role of Nicolaas Loots for three seasons (from 2008 to 2010), in Married to rugby interpret. “Nicolaas was a naughty rascal,” he remembers. “He got two characters namely Driekie (Ciske Krüger) and Mieke (Leandie du Randt) pregnant.”
Eric also has his turn as co-text writer and storyline developer of the soap opera Villa Rosa shown from 2014 to 2016.
The role of Detective Lieutenant Thomas de Wet in the first season of kykNET’s mystery series, Without a tracein 2018 has been one of the highlights of his career so far.
“I enjoy seeing characters with an inner strength like De Wet and Rev. Ben to interpret,” he confesses.
Entering the role of the sly opportunist Gerhard domestics, what he played in 2020 is also a role that he singles out. Gerhard pretended to be Annelize’s (Cindy Swanepoel) brother Wessel and everyone, including Annelize, turned a gear in front of their eyes. “It was definitely a big challenge to play opposite such a seasoned actress as Cindy Swanepoel and the same goes for Nadia Valvekens in Deep waters. They are both so jammed in their ‘craft’ and it keeps me on my toes as an actor all the time. I just focus on remembering my words first, let alone acting!”
As an only child, his parents and family have always supported him in his career, he says. “I think acting was a total novelty for them, because as far as I know, no one in my family had acted before.”
In his spare time, this loner likes to watch films. “I especially love films from filmmaker Terrence Malick. “Some of his movies that I loved are The Thin Red Line and The Tree of Life.” He also singles out the films of Quintin Tarantino as well as Charlie Kaufman. “I was ecstatic about Charlie Kaufman’s film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindstarring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.”
Eric realizes that acting is not only purely about talent, but that passion and hard work obviously also play a big role. “If you look at great tennis stars like Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, then you realize that one’s career becomes a type of obsession.” At this point, he just wants to be the best actor he can be, adds this single. “My main focus is my career and I look forward to roles that may beckon in the future.”
- Deep waters is broadcast Mondays to Thursdays at 18:30 on kykNET (DSTV channel 144).