Channel24’s Graye Morkel visited the set of Scorpion King: Book of Souls in Cape Town recently and got the chance to speak to South African star Pearl Thusi about the hard work that goes on behind-the-scenes of such a large production.
Cape Town - South African TV personality Pearl Thusi - who has gone from working on local productions to international projects, says the secret to her success has always been to develop a rich inner-self and keeping her goals private.
Mamma Pantha, as she is affectionately known to her legion of fans, teams up with Zach McGowan and Mayling Ng for Scorpion King: Book of Souls.
In the fifth instalment of the movie franchise, The Scorpion King (Zach McGowan) teams up with a female warrior named Tala (Pearl Thusi), who is the sister of the Nubian King. Together they search for a legendary relic known as The Book of Souls, which will allow them to put an end to an evil warlord.
On what drew her to the movie, Pearl - without hesitation says: "The director [Don Michael Paul], I worked with him on Tremors 5: Bloodlines, which was the first international film I did.
"He had me in mind for the lead role from the very beginning and that was crazy. I came in to audition for a different role, and he told me 'No, you're Tala.' He is so lovely to work with. It's always a very enriching experience. He really believes in me, and I just want to make him proud."
Another reason Pearl was excited to be part of the movie was because of her childhood memories: "If you look at the type of movies my daughter and I really love, it's adventure."
She goes on to mention Avatar, Tomb Rader, The Mummy franchise and Pirates of the Caribbean: "I've watched them 100 times since high school.
"So for me to do a movie that is 'mummy, Egypt, pyramids and warrior,' it's like a chance to be Grace Jones. I live to make the child version of myself proud, and I think she is very proud of me. And my daughter is very proud of me."
While interviewing Pearl I'm surrounded by pre-historic costumes, location mood boards, shields and swords. I too can't help but get transported to another world, in another time.
Pearl describes Tala as "a warrior princess and a very determined woman."
"This is very much a feminist film," she says.
As one would expect, the role of Tala is very physically demanding, but Pearl says she was "born for action movies." "I think I've got the right built. I'm feminine, and also very strong. I've exceeded my own expectations."
And her training regime has been nothing short of badass. The 29-year-old was put through her paces with horse-riding and fight training.
"The horses were my favourite. Most of the riding I did myself, and I learnt on the movie. The hardest was without-a-doubt riding full gallops on the dunes. Riding with one arm, very regale and very strong."
According to Pearl her co-stars commented that she was "one of the fastest learning actors they have ever taught."
"I'm in much better shape than when I walked on set," she says. Adding: "We only got Sundays off. And then we would go climbing mountains to keep our bodies moving."
There were a few minor injuries along the way, but the actress took it in her stride. "I was using muscles that I've never had to use before, doing round house kicks and working with the spear."
Another form of training she embraced was Maui Tai, to help tap into her aggression. "During fight scenes there are a lot of noise."
Pearl also took up boxing and yoga to increase flexibility and stay supple.
Contrary to what one might think, it was American co-star Zach McGowan who showed Pearl around the Cape Town. "It's been interesting learning more about my own country," says the Johannesburg born actress.
Talking about the close bond with her co-stars on set, Pearl says letting go of people and emotions is something she had to get used to in the entertainment industry: "You build strong bonds, and then you have to let it go. Three days before [wrap] I start to get separation anxiety."
When asked why viewers should watch the movie, she says: "You're going to get a fast-paced, younger and edgier version of the Scorpion King franchise. It's a good story with beautifully structured characters. For women, men and young children.
"There is a strong line-up of women and a good female representation. Women will get a lot of empowerment from the film and men will get a ton of action."
"And we froze in these locations for you! We put everything in this, and I hope people will enjoy it," she laughs.
What's next for Pearl? "The game is to be sold, not told," she says.
"What's next is up to God. The Most High decides what's at the end. It's not always smart to share your plans, I prefer sharing my results. It's dangerous to share you plans. It's your seed. Plant and nurture it."