Kani turns to murder with Sandler, Aniston

Cast of new movie coached on the art of the appropriate hug on set

John Kani.
John Kani.
Image: Yassine El Mansouri

Playing the role of a Nigerian colonel – and one of seven prime suspects for the murder of an elderly billionaire – Port Elizabeth icon John Kani has just wrapped up the shooting of his scenes of Netflix film Murder Mystery in picturesque Lake Como in Italy this week.

Delighted to be shooting in the harbour of Santa Margherita Ligure, Genoa and in the Lake Como area of Italy, Kani, 75, of New Brighton, said taking the role in the comedy was something wonderful as he generally takes on serious, militant-like roles.

The film, which is set to be released in 2019, reunites Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston as the lead actors and is directed by Kyle Newacheck.

“The wonderful thing about this industry is that your reputation precedes you. I got a very warm reception, and what’s fantastic at my age is that most of these actors come up and say ‘I saw you in that movie or at BAM’ (film festival). People are so excited about South African talent, which is amazing.

“This film is a take on Murder on the Orient Express, with an Adam Sandler spin.

“He is an extremely funny and amazing human being and comedian and he does his work with incredible seriousness, while everyone around him is falling apart in laughter.

“Jennifer is so sweet and so wonderful. We are always holding and hugging on set, which is testament to how we’ve grown close like a family, something so wonderful that makes working together so much better,” he said.

Kani said before shooting commenced the cast and crew were vetted in a behavioural conduct workshop following the #MeToo campaign.

“It was something very light, with a facilitator who screened us on how to conduct ourselves when interacting with one another on set – when hugging, not to engage the lower body, touching someone on the shoulder as opposed to the lower back – and it is such a great initiative to take so that all actors and crew are aware of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

“I hope this spills over into my country, especially because it is such a patriarchal country, where we have high statistics where women and children are being abused. This is a great trend to follow in terms of education,” Kani said.

Speaking from the set in Lake Como, Kani said one of his favourite experiences in Italy was the food.

Each night they would visit a new restaurant to try out a variety of pasta, pizza and musical language.

“These (Italian) people live to eat and it is great to see how they embrace and celebrate their culture, enjoying life with food and good music.”

As Thursday was his last day of shooting for Murder Mystery, Kani said his heart was bleeding to be in South Africa following the news of his “dear friend and brother” Winston Ntshona’s death.

“It was with great sadness that I received the news. I had to take a break from filming to take it all in. My hearts bleeds to be with his family right now. I will be in the air with his funeral but as soon as I am back in SA I want to come to PE and spend time with his family.”