South African actor Leroy Gopal has landed a dream: appearing on screen opposite his hero, Hollywood veteran actor Samuel L Jackson, in the upcoming feature film Kite, which was partially shot in Johannesburg.

leroy gopal

Kite is a live-action adaptation of Yasuomi Umetsu's Japanese anime movie, and is expected to be on the big screen soon. "When I was young, I remember how excited I was [when I discovered] his [Jackson's] middle name was Leroy. I knew there and then that I was destined for great things," he says.

Gopal, who plays a doctor in the film, says it was an honour to work with a man who had become "a force to be reckoned with". "For nearly a decade he [Jackson] struggled to become a leading man, but he never gave up. He kept pushing and at the same time fought his drug addiction, and rose above all odds. For me, that is inspiring."

Kite is a character-driven action film that charts the story of Sawa, portrayed by India Eisley. Sawa is a young woman living in a failed state, post-financial collapse, where the corrupt security force profits on the trafficking of young women. When her father, a cop, is killed, Sawa vows to track down the murderer with the help of her father's ex-partner Karl Aker, who is played by Jackson.

Gopal went for some 400 auditions, but won only two roles. It was a period, he says, that could have broken any actor. It made him understand how rough the industry was. "I told myself that if I wanted to go to Hollywood, I'd have to toughen up because, the truth is, Hollywood is twice as difficult to crack than South Africa," he explains.

The actor, known for his roles in local TV dramas such as Home Affairs, Jacob's Cross and soapie Generations, has had roles in films such as The Wall, Hush and Night Drive.