Embeth Davidtz in SA for Junebug release


Embeth Davidtz, one of South Africa’s most famous exports, will be in
Johannesburg in August for the launch of her critically-acclaimed movie,

The movie, directed by Phil Morrison, has been highly praised by some of
America’s most influential critics. One of its performers, Amy Adams, was
nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the pregnant Ashley.

“I’m excited about coming home,” Embeth said in an interview. “I had planned to
come over in August, but then Ster-Kinekor decided to switch the film’s initial
July release date to August, which made me happy.”

The slim and graceful Embeth, who has been an American resident since 1991 and
lives in Pacific Palisades, California, is married to an entertainment
attorney, Jason, and they have two children, Charlotte (3) and 10-month-old
Dylan whom, she says, was conceived while on holiday in South Africa.

The film, Junebug is a rich and emotional tale of a middle-class family in
America’s south. En route to closing a business deal, newly-married Madeleine
(played by Embeth) and George (Alessandro Nivola) randomly decide to stop off
and visit George’s parental home. George’s younger brother Johnny (Benjamin
McKenzie) and their provincial parents don’t quite know what to make of
Madeleine’s worldly sophistication, but Johnny’s childlike and very pregnant
wife Ashley (Amy Adams) is instantly smitten and is determined they will become
best friends. As the characters struggle through the final claustrophobic days
of Ashley’s pregnancy, a truth emerges about people who never conform to the
presumption of others.

Director Phil Morrison remembers how, because of a “screwy” shooting schedule,
Embeth was forced to spend her first day half-naked on set and her second in
the strange, difficult book report scene.

“I knew from our meetings that she had Madeleine’s beauty and grace and her own
clear understanding of the character’s inner life. However, I almost got teary
when she arrived in Winston-Salem and I saw the state of her script. I have no
idea how she managed to get it so dog-eared and with every margin filled with

Embeth praised first-time director Phil Morrison and the “exceptional” cast he
assembled, describing Amy Adams’ contribution to the project as “sublime.”

“It was one of those rare occasions on set where it was like heaven, one big
happy family. We lived in a funky little house, with my baby and the nanny. I
bought a bicycle to ride to and from set in Carolina. We were staying very
close to where the shoot was and each day I would cycle to work with Charlotte
in the baby seat. For me, it was sublime on every detail.

“Phil is a genius. You know, you fall into bad habits when you work with so
many other directors and you rely on whatever to get by. But Phil picked up on
every little nuance and he helped so much. Everybody was incredible, from the
actors to the crew.”

In a career spanning more than two decades, Embeth has featured in a host of
films, on TV and on the stage. She was in the critically acclaimed Schindler’s
List in 1993, in which she portrayed the Jewish maid who survived both the
abuse and attraction of a sadistic commander Goeth (Ralph Fiennes). It was a
poignant and critically acclaimed performance.
Filming in a bitterly cold Poland, and being exposed to similar conditions that
inmates faced in the notorious Nazi concentration camps, proved a great
leveller, Embeth recalls.

Over the years Embeth has built up a fine body work, which includes Bridget
Jones’s Diary, Bicentennial Man, The Gingerbread Man, Mansfield Park, Fallen,
Murder in the First and Feast of July.

Born in Indiana but raised in South Africa, Embeth remains fluent in English
and Afrikaans and continues her strong ties to her native country. One of her
life’s joys is spending time with her parents on their farm and with her
brother in Zimbali, on the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

A graduate of Rhodes University, she made an auspicious theatrical debut with
the National Theatre Company, as Juliet in a production of Shakespeare’s
classic romantic tragedy, and she subsequently garnered considerable accolades
for her theatrical work.
Embeth first entered the film arena in 1988 in a South African TV production, A
Private Life, playing the daughter of an interracial couple. She later went on
to win South Africa’s equivalent of an Oscar in an Afrikaans psychological
drama, Nag van 19de.


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