Sharlto Copley is a man who clearly loves film. When he was growing up he wanted to become an actor and now that dream has been realised. But before that, Copley started up his own production company Vasbyt Films LLC and became South Africa’s youngest television producer at the age of 25. At age 22 Copley first met a 16 year old Neill Blomkamp (a name you’ll be hearing a lot in the coming paragraphs and years) and Blomkamp began working at Copley’s production company in return for the use of the computers at the company for Blomkamp to furthur his passion of 3D animation and design.

Over ten years after this meeting Sharlto Copley made his acting debut in short film Alive in Joburg about a close encounter of the third kind in Johannesburg. Copley also produced the six minute film which was directed by Neil Blomkamp. In 2009 Copley made his feature film acting debut, again directed by Blomkamp, in science fiction masterpiece and Oscar nominated film District 9, an adaptation of Alive in Joburg. You can read my review of District 9 here, but one thing I didn’t mention in the review was just how good Copley’s performance is. This was the first time he had acted in a full length feature but he looks right at home in front of the camera, his performance is excpetional and he is nothing but loveable in his role. The change and development his character goes through is unbelievable and the emotion that Copley is able to bring to the role is just wonderful. I think this is one of my favourite performances of recent years.

This performance and the success of District 9 allowed Copley to make another of his dreams come true. Thanks to his performance he was noticed by the Hollywood executives and cast in the film remake of one of Copley’s favourite television shows, The A-Team. Now, the cast looks pretty good on paper with the likes of Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper among the names and token eye-candy-in-summer-blockbuster Jessica Biel included, and there were some good action scenes that made it a fun popcorn movie but there was nothing to it. However, Copley’s performance as “Howling Mad” Murdock was the shining light of brilliance among the film and he even gained praise from Dwight Schultz, the man who made the character famous in the TV series.

Having tried his hand at action and science fiction it seems clear which one he enjoyed the most as a look at his upcoming films will tell you that Sharlto Copley is sure to become one of science fiction’s greatest ever actors. His next film is Europa Report about a crew of international astronauts sent on a mission to Jupiter’s fourth moon. Another upcoming film is the intriguing Open Grave which will see Copley try his hand at horror: Copley’s character wakes up in a pit of dead bodies with no memory and must try to find the serial killer or decide whether he himself is actually the killer.

After this Copley is set to team up with old friend Blomkamp for Elysium, another science fiction film, however not connected to the earlier District 9. There is a lot of anticipation and expectation surrounding Elysium because it is Blomkamp’s follow up project and it also features Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and William Fichtner among the cast. Copley’s role in Elysium is set to be completely different from District 9 as he plays a bad-ass and vile South African mercenary: his versatility is set to be tested.

With roles in the Oldboy remake and the retelling of Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent alongside Angelina Jolie Copley’s career looks to be a path that is very well chosen. All we are going to see over the coming years is just how good and how versatile Copley is. Such a talented actor, he already has a cult fan base but he is deserving of even more!

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