"My mom," he says and then nods profusely. "When I was growing up, my favourite superhero was my mom." Either Pallance Dladla has been asked this question before or he really means his answer.
In "Shadow," the first South African Original Series acquired by Netflix, Dladla plays the lead character, Shadrach "Shadow" Khumalo. He’s a former task force specialist in the South African Police Services. He is also a superhero who is immune to pain.
Disappointed by the lack of service in the SAPS, he quits the force and takes cases into his own hands. Vengeance is his as he helps those in need against the grip of murderers, human traffickers and more. So when I ask him which superheroes he liked when he was a kid, I’m expecting him to say Superman or Jean Grey or Luke Cage. Hell, I would have even taken Batman, who isn’t a superhero but is labelled one anyway.
But he continues: "I had to think about your question and make it personal because the thing about being a superhero is not about the mask you put on in front of your enemies. It’s about when you take off the mask and the humanity and vulnerability comes through."
"That makes the bravery. It’s not someone who doesn’t have fear. It’s someone who faces their fears. And when I saw that in the Shadow script, it resonated with me because it reminds me of people like my mom."
"Shadow" premieres all eight episodes across the globe on March 8. Ahead of the world premiere of Netflix’s "Shadow," Dladla spoke to IOL Entertainment about his role as Mzansi’s first Netflix superhero.
Q: You had to bulk for the role, tell us about your journey.
A: What usually happens in my preparation for roles is: I imagine how the character looks while I’m reading the page and I try to not see myself or my physical appearance. Shadow is military trained and comes from a task force so I had to work out and make sure I bring that to life.
Q: What is Shadow’s kryptonite?
A: His heart. Physically and otherwise. He’s hurting, man. He’s a man who is trying to heal and forgive himself. He gets lost in this self-destruction phase where he crosses the line between justice and vengeance.
Q: When Shadow has an intimate conversation with his sister’s friend, Ashley (played by Amanda du Pont), they speak about how they think they’re on earth to fix people. But the concept of a fixer suggests that you can’t fix yourself…
A: It all stems from somewhere, though. Usually, when someone is trying to fix a situation, they are also trying to fix themselves. There is vulnerability behind bravado. It’s an internal journey – that’s what I think is the most important part about being a fixer.
Q: But that opens the door for narcissism, right? The police captain even says Shadow is playing God and "sooner or later, he’s going to fall from his tower."
A: That’s what the show actually explores: the line between vengeance and justice. It’s easy to cross that line when you get pushed to a certain point. So in watching the series, things will unravel to you.
Q: This is a global series but how do you feel about Maboneng being heavily highlighted on Shadow?
A: I’m born and bred in Johannesburg and we shot scenes in Soweto – by the towers. That’s like a walk away from my home. I grew up looking at those towers and that as a point of reference for viewers is great! Joburg is the kind of city with momentum and diversity that other people can relate to.
Q: Which superpower do you wish you had?
A: Reading minds! I could do so much with that (laughs)!