A lot of heart: Evan Hengst on his character in ‘Troukoors’

After Troukoors (Wedding Fever), the first Showmax Original romcom, made its debut on 13 December 2021, Evan Hengst who plays Stefan, opened up about his role in the Afrikaans dramedy.

About Troukoors

Troukoors is made by Louis Pretorius and Albert Snyman of Infinity Films, the creators of critically acclaimed and much-loved shows like Die Boekklub and Fynskrif, with regular collaborator Nina Swart directing.

Troukoors is like good champagne: light and bubbly and more-ish, with a tendency to bring out people’s naughty sides,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “It’s like Younger or The Bold Type, but set against the splendour and romance of the Cape wedding industry.”

Ilse-Lee van Niekerk (Getroud Met Rugby4 MureDie Boekklub) stars as Jessica, a wedding planner who’s surrounded by love but struggling to find it for herself. 

Hengst plays a love interest in the comedy:

Evan Hengst about the audition process

“I have been trying for years to work with Louis and Albert,” says Hengst.

It turns out Hengst sent a self-tape audition just to see what would happen.

Evan Hengst in ‘Troukoors’. Image: Supplied/Showmax

“Usually, there is a callback first, but they just wanted to see me for a chemistry read with the actress who plays Luca, Blyde Smit. Luca is his love interest in the series. I got very nervous because it was an unusual process for me. I then did the chemistry read with Blyde, and it was very awkward because everything had to be done via Zoom, and doing a chemistry read over Zoom is quite a challenge.”

The next morning he got the call that they wanted to offer him the role.

About the character

Hengst says that his character, Stefan is a writer and waiter who works in a bar.

“The more Louis and Albert told me about him, and as I read the text, I began to feel a kinship with Stefan. He’s sort of living in his own world. I always see him as a bit of an alien moving among people, because of his interests and because he is so geeky.

“He struggles to express himself because he becomes entangled in his head, but when he writes he expresses himself fluently. I could relate to that. We all have moments where we feel no one understands us, or feel like outsiders in the world. He finds his space and his comfort in Luca.”

On the impact of an intimacy coordinator on set

Hengst – who played Miles on the Kissing Booth 3 – says the impact of intimacy coordinator is very fascinating.

“It helped me understand the intimate scenes so much better because there is so much detail and nuance you can bring in. It really changed my perspective on everything.

“As an actor you can become too focused on the physical aspects of it, being vulnerable and exposed and naked. You can really get into your head about it. But now you rehearse it like a dance and you add those little details and it actually becomes a lot more enjoyable.

“There is so much preparation and trust built ahead of time that once you arrived on set … normally you would have felt very vulnerable and out of place; as if you really just want to get it over and done with. But this time I felt so prepared and relaxed.

“I feel, as an actor, it should be done on a wider scale, especially in South Africa. There is not enough focus on intimate scenes, especially not to make actors feel comfortable. This is essential for them to be able to do the job properly. It definitely opened my eyes to what these scenes could be.

“What was also lovely was how much the crew respected the process. They did the same workshops in preparation as we did and supported us and created the privacy and security we needed.”

About the show’s more realistic approach to relationships

The series is very unique in how the script was approached.

“The script was a team effort between Louis, Albert and younger writers to portray modern relationships, intimacy issues and all that stuff that people don’t actually talk about on local TV.

“That collaboration, and the younger voices that were used, helped with how those issues were addressed, how they talked about it, and how they wrote in such a way that it remained as natural as possible.

“In terms of how they address relationships, such as with Karel and Nathan as a gay couple, it is not treated as a taboo subject. This is a very common thing in the world and it is handled that way. It’s not even an issue. It’s just a depiction of a relationship between two people and how they go through the normal course of life. I think it’s done very well.

“As an actor, it’s a real pleasure to work on a story like this, because you don’t really have to do much. You have your script and the story to fall back on, and all you have to do is be present and alive. That actually makes it the easiest job in the world.”

Hengst on viewer reaction

He says that it is really nice to be part of a series where you sit on set and think, “I can’t wait for people to see this”.

“There is something for everyone in the show. The genre, dramedy, lends itself to beautiful light moments, comic moments, but intertwined with moving moments.

“I watched my co-actors on the monitor a lot with Nina, and was moved often. It’s amazing to work with such a group of people and just be in awe of them and get drawn into the story. I can’t wait to see what the viewers say.”

Highlights and challenges

The best part of playing Stefan is the light-hearted moments and his good-natured humanity.

“He’s a good guy, although he has his faults; it’s not like he’s perfect.

“The most challenging was to portray certain aspects of his relationship with Luca, the challenges he encounters as their relationship develops and how their love story changes.

“Because the series is not shot in sequence, it was also a challenge to keep up with where they are in their relationship and their journey.”

You have to watch because…

He believes that the series has a lot of heart.

“It’s entertaining and fun.

“And the characters are written in such a way that they represent different facets of the human experience. You have characters who are more intellectual – Stefan is an example. He is very much in his head and there is a constant battle between his head and his heart. Then again, Luca is a very passionate person. She works from her heart.

“All the characters are different and I think as viewers you will be able to relate with one of the characters or elements of the story. It has a little bit of everything for everyone. I think anyone can laugh and cry as the series continues. And I think that is precisely the hallmark of a good series – the ability to move people on different levels.”

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