“When I first read that script, I just went Hallelujah. The Killing Floor is a dark comedy that almost has a Coen brothers vibe to it, although I don't want to liken it to anything else because it has such an original style. Philip Gardner, who wrote and directed it, has a brilliant mind. Here you have a movie with this deep Natal, almost Mississippi-like feel to it with that lovely, muddy blues soundtrack created by Dave Starke.
My character, Melvin Poone, is a guy who essentially wants to be a writer but who has turned to alcohol. He inherits this sugar cane farm but is useless at it. Patrick Ndlovu, who is such an awesome actor, is in a way Melvin's caretaker, he looks after him. Then when the one man who would publish Melvin accidentally gets killed during the drug wars, Melvin goes on this mission to find the truth and the people responsible for it. But he is not very good at it.
Philip was looking for someone to cast as Melvin Poone and was put on to me. We did a Skype call and had a long chat. It really was a good fit for me because I understood a lot of what the lead character needed. I dont like to tell directors and producers the things that I do in preparation for doing a role, however certain roles require it. Philip's brief to me was, excuse my language, to be as fucked up as possible. So I put on weight, during shooting I made sure I hardly slept, you know I really got into it. There are very few roles where you get the chance to do that.
I think everything in Melvin Poone's case is selfish, whether he realises it or not. He talks about wanting to create good literature, and I'm sure he wants to believe in that, but he has that element that is in all of us, wanting to get recognised. When you have been a failure in everything, you want to succeed in at least one thing. It is a dark comedy but it is a very human. What is actually quite horrific violence, but not explicit violence, he still manages to keep this incredible humanity.
There were scenes that we did that was, for me, very rare. I would come out of that scene and it would still be sitting with me, that is how deep it would go. I put a part of myself into it, you make yourself vulnerable but you have to make sure that you are still riding the horse and the horse doesn't ride you, if you know what I mean.
“...it is still living in me as one of the highlights of my life...” - Jonathan Pienaar
The whole crew, the whole cast, everybody gave to that film. It is one of the most unusual films that I have ever been involved in. Unusual as in you don't compare it to an American or European film, it is standing on its own. It is a captivating film, it is what you would wish for in a film. It is something that you can go and put your heart into hoping that the people who are going to watch it for an hour and a half are completely captivated. And from my perspective, it more than achieved that.
I am just so happy to have been part of the project. Right through doing it, and afterwards, right now, two years later, it is still living in me as one of the highlights of my life.”