IN FULL SWING. South African actor Greg Kriek talks about playing Tony Sinclair in the environmental documentary “The Serengeti Rules” along with his upcoming roles and thoughts on his accomplishments
Outfit by Vince
Chances are you’ve already seen Greg Kriek appear in quite a few movies. If you haven’t, then there’s a good chance that you will this year. With over than 40 films to his name, including “Momentum” and “Maze Runner: Death Cure,” Kriek is set to star in a lot of movies during the rest of 2018, including “Lake Placid: Legacy” and “The Serengeti Rules”, where he will be playing real life biologist Tony Sinclair. Kriek is also the lead man in the war drama “The Recce” and the coming-of-age surf movie “Deep End.” And that’s not all. It’s safe to say, we’re going to see a lot more of Kriek in the days to come.
DA MAN: Hi Greg, thanks for having us. “The Serengeti Rules” has officially premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival at the end of April. Can you tell us a bit about how it was received?
Greg Kriek: Tribeca was hands down one of the best experiences I’ve ever had with a film. I am so proud of the final cut and am super proud of the entire team. The movie is so powerful and people were deeply impacted by it. The way it was presented, its global scope, its message of hope in gloomy times … and as the cherry on the cake I also got to meet the real Tony Sinclair in person for the first time.
I cannot wait for the public to see this beautifully crafted film. It was an honor to be part of this.
DA MAN: Your character, Tony Sinclair, is a real life biologist who has spent a long time researching the Serengeti, predator-prey theory, animal migration and ecology as a whole. How exactly do you prepare yourself to deal with such complex subjects?
Greg Kriek: I learnt so much in the preparation for the part. The Passion Pictures team was great in sending me actual BBC archival footage of Tony in the field. I also watched numerous interviews, documentaries and read Sean Carroll’s book “The Serengeti Rules” in preparation. Some of the things I learned was that when keystones are removed, ecosystems unravel and collapse—a phenomenon no one had imagined—or understood until Tony’s revolutionary discoveries. But with new knowledge also comes new hope. Tony’s work revealed the remarkable resilience of nature—and how the rules he discovered can be used to upgrade and restore the natural world.
DA MAN: You also worked with an Oscar-winning team, not to mention three Emmy Award-winner Nicolas Brown. What was it like working with a team like that?
Greg Kriek: One of the best experiences with a director I’ve ever had, as well as with a crew. We formed a fantastic bond and it was so refreshing to work with a team that truly cared about their work. What a great time we had! The experience of filming out in the African wild and getting a taste of what it must have been like to do research in the field—where you have to wait for nature to reveal itself to you—was an absolute eye opener. Stories that matter really makes me come alive!
DA MAN: “The Serengeti Rules” focuses a lot on the balance of life. Has your involvement in this project changed your perspective—of nature, or humanity in general—in any way?
Greg Kriek: Absolutely. These days we mostly hear the doom and gloom when it comes to environmental issues. But this project really opened my eyes to the fact that it is possible to upgrade the environment. Technology combined with the right scientific research can be harnessed in so many incredible ways.
DA MAN: Aside from “The Serengeti Rules” you are also playing in “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell,” the sixth title in the series. What can fans of the franchise expect from this new flick?
Greg Kriek: Fans of this cult franchise can expect a true homage to the original films. However, this particular film also offers a unique dive into the viscera and yuck that makes these sequels so much fun. It’s also great having it set in the Arctic this time round. I was like a kid in a candy store, getting to work with an amazing international cast, run from a few monsters, as one does, and do all the crazy things that make making movies the best career in the world.
DA MAN: On a slightly related note, you’re also set to star in the giant crocodile movie “Lake Placid: Legacy.” Can you give us a brief rundown of the film and a bit about Travis, the character you are playing?
Greg Kriek: “Lake Placid: Legacy” is a fresh and visceral reboot of the original series. Explorers stumble upon an island that harbors an abandoned facility and a deadly predator that is eager to feast on naive visitors.
I play Travis, a Ranger Rick kind of character that owns an adventure company—with his partner Penny—who reluctantly takes a team of explorers – to this abandoned facility and finds himself caught up in all the drama despite his hesitation.
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DA MAN: Other than “The Serengeti Rules,” “Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell” and “Lake Placid: Legacy,” what other films or projects do you have coming this year?
Greg Kriek: A film I’m extremely excited about is “The Recce”—a “Lone Survivor” meets “The Revenant” war drama—where I play the main character Henk Viljoen, who is wrongfully declared KIA behind enemy lines. Abandoned by his superiors, it’s a race for survival in which his mental and physical abilities are pushed to their limits, as he navigates his way through the treacherous Angolan war zone in an effort to make his way home to his loved ones. That releases this September.
I am also the leading man in “Deep End” where I play American surfer Cory Taylor in a gritty, coming-of-age surf flick releasing in theaters October. Beyond that, fans can catch me as Henry in “Last Ones Out” currently on Amazon, Caleb in “Samson” that just released in the U.S. and starts releasing in other parts of the world this June.
I also start filming a new sailing drama in a few weeks as the leading man, which is set to release in 2019.
DA MAN: Still, it does seem that you’re looking at quite a busy time ahead. Do you still find the time to engage in non-work activities or do you enjoy being constantly busy?
Greg Kriek: To work as an actor full time is a dream come true, so I really enjoy being busy. However, “all work and no play made Jack a dull boy.”
I really try to the best of my ability to plan short breaks away between projects. I actually have a hiking trip planned to Spain with my best friends later this year. I love jamming guitar, exploring outdoors and being out in the ocean. If I’m not working I try and steal as much time with friends and family as possible.
DA MAN: Of all the films, documentaries and TV series you have done, which ones have been the most important milestones in your career?
Greg Kriek: Each film I’ve done was super special in its own right for so many reasons. However some of my most important career milestones include my first leading role in the biopic “Momentum,” playing leading man Tony Sinclair in “The Serengeti Rules,” the powerful war drama “The Recce” where I also play the lead, Caleb in “Samson” and naturally getting to act in popular franchises such as “Maze Runner,” “Tremors” and “Lake Placid.”
DA MAN: Lastly, at this stage of your career, with more than 40 films under your belt, how do you feel about how far you’ve come?
Greg Kriek: Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I am so incredibly grateful! It really is tough for actors from Africa to get a break into the international film industry. I only started acting fulltime five years ago and now I’ve had the privilege of getting to film all over the world, be the leading man of numerous projects and have gotten to work with some of my favorite actors like Morgan Freeman, James Purefoy, Dylan O Brien, Olga Kurylenko, Rutger Hauer and Barry Pepper.
It’s nothing less than an absolute dream come true for which I am truly grateful. I still have a lot of learning, growth and work ahead of me, but I understand that a career is a journey much like a marathon is not necessarily a sprint. And I am thankful for this chapter right here. I have learned that nothing is impossible if you stay humble and hustle hard. I’ve learned that you really cannot judge people. We all have a story. There is power in your story even when truth is stranger than fiction.
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