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Tributes continue to pour in for legendary stage and screen actor Jamie Bartlett

Independent Online (IOL) logo Independent Online (IOL) 2022/05/24 Debashine Thangevelo
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Industry colleagues and fans have taken to social media to remember award-winning veteran actor Jamie Bartlett, who passed away at 55.

A family member confirmed the news to eNCA and, shortly after, social media was flooded with condolence messages as industry colleagues and fans bid the inimitable stage and screen actor farewell.

The cause of his passing is unconfirmed at this stage, but an announcement is expected today.

Bartlett is a British-born South African Thespian. He is known for his iconic soapie roles as Mike O’Reilly in SABC3’s “Isidingo” and as the resident Machiavellian David Genaro in e.tv’s “Rhythm City”.

On the big screen, he’s been in several movies, too, including the “Red Dust”, opposite Hillary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, “Avenger”, “Prey”, “White Lion”, “Nothing for Mahala” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”.

KB Motsilanyane with Jamie Bartlett on the set of South African soap Rhythm City during the filming of their wedding scene. Picture: Jennifer Bruce © Provided by Independent Online (IOL) KB Motsilanyane with Jamie Bartlett on the set of South African soap Rhythm City during the filming of their wedding scene. Picture: Jennifer Bruce

Bartlett was in his element playing baddies, and his look and stature often saw him cast in projects that shone a spotlight on the injustices of apartheid.

In my last interview with him, just before Covid-19 hit SA in March 2020, Bartlett stopped by our offices in Joburg’s CBD to chat about bidding farewell to his “Rhythm City” character of 13 years.

Always poetic with his responses, he said: “He is like a Greco-Roman classical character. And, in order to play him (he’s actually colonised every single cell in my body), and, at times, in the plea of him and in the defence of the character, wedging my toe into the corner of the shower to get some purchase on him in play, I’ve had to go see a doctor at times because it is just too overwhelming to shoot.”

Of course, the theatre was close to his heart, too. He received standing ovations for his performance in “Death of a Colonialist”, which won him the 2010 Naledi Theatre Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Lead Role.

He bagged numerous accolades for his screen and stage work over the years, including a Safta, Fleur du Cap and the Vita Awards.

That was Bartlett, passionate about every role he took on. In fact, he was so passionate about his craft that he wanted to pay it forward and opened up an acting school, The Finishing College, to help groom the next generation of actors.

The actor leaves behind his son Hector, ex-wife Camila Waldman, and partner Rosa Onious.

Currently, at the Cannes Film Festival, Anant Singh said: “It is with great shock that I learnt of the sudden passing of Jamie Bartlett last night. Jamie was a master of his craft and was known for the powerful performances he delivered in iconic roles he played in films and television shows.

“I have had the pleasure of working with Jamie for over three decades, starting with the Iraqi war-themed film, ‘Bravo Two Zero’ followed by the TRC film ‘Red Dust’, in which he played an apartheid-era security policeman; the thriller ‘Prey’ and ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’.

“In December 2004, Jamie travelled with me and Archbishop Desmond Tutu to the Dubai Film Festival where ‘Red Dust’ was honoured with a gala screening as the closing night film.

“In ‘Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom’, Jamie did an amazing job of playing Madiba’s prison warder, James Gregory. He researched the role intensely and gave a brilliant and authentic performance.

“Jamie was a role model to young actors entering the world of film and television. His passing leaves a huge void in the industry, and he will be missed by his peers. My sincere condolences go to Jamie’s family and friends, and I wish them strength during this difficult time of bereavement. May his soul rest in peace.”

Celebrity entertainer Somizi Mhlongo also paid tribute to Bartlett on Instagram.

He wrote: “And just like that....last night wud be the last night together literally...... i even made fun of u for greeting each and every person @012_lifestyle_brooklyn including the kitchen staff....yo spirit knew.....farewell my Jamie.....💔💔💔💔💔”

Several celebrities commented on Somizi’s post.

@thuliphongolo wrote: “This! I literally just thought about seeing the flyer you posted when I found out, IT WAS JUST YESTERDAY! 😩💔”

nandi_madida added: “What a kind, talented soul 🙏🏽🙏🏽💔. Beautiful legacy.”

On Twitter, @SaneleZn2 tweeted: “Why are we loosing Legends and icons in this country😭😭😭 I couldn't believe it ngibuhlungu ngo Jamie Bartlett yooh!!! Rest in Power great one. Such unmatched Talent.”

@God_Modimo wrote: “It is said that Jamie Bartlett was the only actor allowed to add lines to the script. All those witty lines we enjoyed, most were his. That's David genaro #RIPJamieBartlett.“

On Facebook, “Savage Beauty” actress Nthathi Moshesh wrote: “Rest in artistic love & peace Jamie Bartlett💔🕊”

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Former “Isidingo” co-star Karin van der Laag posted: “Dear Jamie I will miss you every day for the rest of my life. Thank you for everything my lovely friend. See you on the other side. I love you always. RIP Jamie Bartlett.”

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Megan Carelse added: "Rest in peace Jamie... I'll never forget my first day at Rhythm City in 2012, you found me in the make up room and proceeded to keep me very busy by asking me questions and chatting about your misadventures in Cape Town, of which I had too many.

“I remember you falling off your chair and for some reason I thought you did it on purpose to help me relax. I don't know if that's true but it certainly stopped my body from shaking on the inside. Thank you🙏🏼 The Don has returned home.”

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