The Vincent

May 3, 2000                                                               

Vincent Perez found you can dream of Africa, just don't get caught daydreaming.

Vincent Perez got an unexpected crash course on wilderness survival during his first week of filming I Dreamed of Africa.

The European actor - who has starred in such films as The Crow: City of Angels, Cyrano De Bergerac with Gerard Depardieu, Indochine and Queen Margot - had been given a few dos and don'ts about life in the South African wilds when he first arrived to play a man in love with Africa and its adventures, but that did stop him from forgetting the dangers and getting caught unprepared.

Perez found himself wandering alone in the bush after venturing off the safety of the movie set to play soccer with some locals.

"I needed to run because you can't run in the wild," he says of the dangers of moving too quickly around wild animals.

After the game, as the sun was setting, everyone waved goodbye and disappeared.

"All of a sudden I realized, oh gawd, I'm alone in the middle of the bushes. I had to walk back alone in the night without a torch," recalls Perez, who plays Paolo, the husband of Kuki Gallmann, played by Kim Basinger, in this true story about the drama of life on an African cattle ranch.

"I walked and the moon was helping a bit and I had animals all around me. It was wonderful. I was a little scared at first, but after a while I stared to like it. Then I saw a branch on the ground and I thought of snakes."

It was an experience that was good for the actor and the man.

"I think I matured while in Africa. You discover the nature in yourself and learn to value less the things society has taught us are important. You focus more on the present. I can tell you that when you're in front of a lion, you are in the present time!"

Perez so enjoyed being around the animals that on his day off he showed up on the set to watch the elephants work.

"The five tamed elephants called the wild elephants because they can communicate very long distances. They have very low sounds we can't hear. The tame elephants called the wild ones to come join them in the movie. All of a sudden, I saw everyone running back because the wild elephants were approaching and they can be very dangerous," says Perez.

[Written by Anika van Wyk]

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