Famous South Africans – Part 1 – Actors & Actresses

I’ve decided to start a Facts section on this blog. It will be primarily dedicated to facts about South Africa, but there will be other interesting facts pointed out in the section as well. I’ve decided to do this because I feel the general population of the world still thinks South Africa is part of “Deep Dark Africa”. This is to point out that we’re not and that there are actually famous people out there who hail from this country. I hope you all find this educational and that this helps to change the perception most of you have about South Africa. Today I will be covering Actors & Actresses who hail from South Africa.


Embeth Davidtz: Born in Lafayette, Indiana in the USA whilst her dad was finishing his engineering degree. Her parents moved back to their native South Africa when she was only 9 years old. She is of English descent and had to learn Afrikaans to attend classes in South Africa. Her father took up teaching at Potchefstroom University. In 1983 she graduated at Glen High School in Pretoria. After school she completed her degree in Drama and English at Rhodes University in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. She performed in a few stage productions, then she moved on to the silver screen, landing roles in movies in South Africa from 1989. Embeth Davidtz moved to London in the UK in 1992 and landed her first role in an American film, Army of Darkness, which was directed by Sam Raimi (known for being the director of the Spiderman movies). She was spotted in a TV production in the US by famed director Steven Spielberg who cast her in the role as the Jewish maid in the Oscar winning movie Schindler’s List. Since then she’s landed roles in various movies, including Murder in the First, Matilda, The Gingerbread Man, Fallen, Mansfield Park, Bicentennial Man, Bridget Jones’ Diary, The Hole, Thirteen Ghosts, XXX: State of the Union and others. I think can safely say that she is an established Hollywood actress and known the world over for her performances. Definately one of my favorite actresses who hail from South Africa. I’m sure that we will see her in more roles in the future.


Alice Krige: Born Alice Maud Krige in 1954 in Upington, Northern Cape, South Africa. She is well-known for her role as the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact. She also reprised the role for the final episode of Star Trek: Voyager. Alice Krige left South Africa in 1976 and moved to London in the United Kingdom. She had plans were to become a clinical psychologist but turned to acting after an experience in an acting class at Rhodes University. Alice Krige attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has also starred in various TV series including The 4400, Deadwood, Becker, Beverly Hills 90210, Murder She Wrote, Six Feet Under and others. The Borg Queen isn’t the only role she’s played on the silver screen. There have been numerous appearances in the movies, including roles in Chariots of Fire, Sleepwalkers and Reign of Fire, to name but a few. She’s also done voice overs for the Star Trek: Armada II and Gears of War 2 video games. She’s definately not a stranger in the entertainment industry, she won an award for Best Supporting Actress at the Saturn Awards in 1997 for her role as the Borg Queen. In 2004 Alice Krige was awarded an honorary Litt.D degree at Rhodes University. She is married to writer and director Paul Schoolman. In my opinion she’s definately one of the best actresses my country has ever produced.


Arnold Vosloo: Born in Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa in 1962. Both his parents were actors and the family moved around a lot. He primarily grew up in Port Elizabeth, where his father owned a drive-in theatre, and in Alberton (South of Johannesburg). Arnold Vosloo started his acting career in the theatre, winning various Dalro Awards and becoming quite a regular at the State Theatre in Pretoria. He moved on to film in 1984, starring in Boetie gaan Border toe, an Afrikaans film, a comedy about the border war in South West Africa (present day Namibia). He also starred in the film’s sequel, Boetie op Manouvres in 1986. In 1990 Arnold Vosloo starred in Circles in the Forest, a film based on the book Kringe in ‘n bos by Dalene Matthee. After a spell in theatre in the US, he landed his first role in 1492: Conquest of Paradise in 1992. He followed up on this performance with the role of a henchman in Hard Target, opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme in 1993. He also starred in both less successful Darkman sequels, taking over the role which Liam Neeson played in the original Darkman. Arnold Vosloo landed the title role for The Mummy in 1999 and The Mummy Returns in 2001 opposite Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. He is well known for his role Imhotep, an Egyptian high priest, in both these films. In 2006 he played the part of Colonel Coetzee in the movie Blood Diamond which also starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly. He also acted as Leonardo DiCaprio’s language coach for the movie. The film was partially filmed in South Africa. Besides his film career, Arnold Vosloo has also appeared in episodes of American Gothic, Nash Bridges, Alias, Charmed, 24 and Chuck on television. He’s also starring in GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra which is currently on circuit. Even though Arnold Vosloo obtained naturalist citizenship of the US, he’ll also be a South African actor to me, and one which has been present in Hollywood for a long time.

Related Links:
Arnold Vosloo Celebrity Profile – RottenTomatoes
Alice Krige Celebrity Profile – RottenTomatoes
Embeth Davidtz Celebrity Profile – RottenTomatoes

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Henno Kruger
Blogger, Desktop Activist, Twitter / Facebook Addict, Music Festival Addict, Avid lover of South African music, Founder and owner of Running Wolf's Rant and co-founder of SA Music Zone

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  • celeste

    just had a quick look…
    don’t forget charlize, gavin hood, richard e. grant & dave matthews
    also tolkien was born in bloemfontein

    • Running Wolf

      Celeste: Thank you for the reminder. I will be covering some of them in future posts 🙂

  • Marlene Fourie

    What about covering other South African Actors as well, for example Stuart Brown, Leon le Roux, Joe Stewardson, and so many others past and present? Is there anywhere one can find information on them.

  • Ferron Moodley

    Thanks 4 the info was really helpful 😀

  • Jakko Terblanche

    Embeth Davidtz is not South African. She is American. I’ve seen her say so a couple times. She just lived there for a short while. But she claims that she is American and not South African.

    You’ve also left out some big names. Sharlto Copley from District 9. Stelio Savante from Ugly Betty who is a SAG award nominee. Gideon Emery from Takers. All three of these names should be on the list.

  • Michelle

    If you’re going to have a list like this then you have to cover the South Africans who have made their mark since Embeth (who is American) Alice and Arnold reached their heights. Hands down Stelio Savante has made his mark with several memorable roles and recognition. Sharlto Copley has starred in two huge films and how can you leave out Charlize?

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