Judge Dredd star recalls memories of Cape Town

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

New Zealand-born actor Karl Urban, known for his roles in Lord of the Rings and Star Trek, briefly recalled that he saw honeymooners Shrien and Anni Dewani in the hotel where he lived while filming Judge Dredd.

Karl Urban. Photo by Yazeed Kamaldien

Urban told the Cape Times, in an interview this week, he saw the honeymoon couple the day before Anni Dewani was murdered. Shrien Dewani is in police custody in the UK while his three co-accused killers are jailed in South Africa.
“That Dewani… I believe he’s still in the UK. That’s incredible. He was staying at my hotel. I saw him and his wife,” said Urban.
The Dewani couple and the leading man stayed at the Cape Grace Hotel in late 2010 while Urban was filming Judge Dredd which releases nationwide this week.
Urban spent four months in the city and is back in Cape Town this week to promote his new film but also catch up with “grate mates”.
“I had a thoroughly fantastic time here in Cape Town. I took my family on safari. Met a lot of really wonderful people. Watched rugby between the All Blacks and the Springboks. Was a great season last year. Well, for the All Blacks,” said Urban.

“The strongest legacy is the friendships that were formed. I have great South African mates now.”
A screening was held for the Cape Town cast and crew of Judge Dredd this week. Urban said it was to “say thank you to them for their hard work.”

Judge Dredd is based on a comic book hero created 35 years ago. The character is described as a “bad ass cop” who takes out villains. Urban said the film is set in a “dystopian future… a desperate time (of) chaos, crimes.”

“It is fun to be able to explore that from the safety of our own seats, but it’s not too difficult to take a good hard look at the world we currently live in and see that it’s not that far removed,” he said.
“You take away the fact that in our story there’s a bit of technology in there, but fundamentally there is civil unrest right throughout the world. Mankind continues to exploit the earth. If you showed our reality to a film audience 50 years ago they would say that’s a grim future.”

Urban’s character wears a helmet for most of the film and the actor said this created “a challenge to communicate with an audience.”
“It was important to humanise the character. That’s where the dry sense of humour was important. The helmet is reflective of the environment. It’s a tough world. It was a protective helmet,” he said.

“I had to find out who the man was beneath the helmet. What humanises the character? Where is the humour? There is a weariness about this character. He has been dealing with this kind of a day – that he has in this movie – for a long time. It was important to find out where his compassion was.”

A concept the film explores is instant justice, which Urban says was a “desperate measure for a desperate time.”
“I don’t think that the type of totalitarian regime that is in the film should ever exist.

But certainly, as a wish fulfilment, we have all wished there was a form of instant justice for situations we have been in or for crimes that we have witnessed. So in a way this film is an escapist wish fulfilment,” he said.

Urban added that one of his favourite scenes filmed in Cape Town involved speeding through the city’s streets.
“Driving the Law Master motorbike in full Dredd uniform in full daylight in the streets of Cape Town when we were filming was a highlight,” he said.

This article appeared in the Cape Times daily regional newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, on September 27 2012.

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About Yazeed Kamaldien

Self-employed journalist and photographer from South Africa.

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