‘Summertide’ star Frank Rautenbach on using psychology to master roles

Frank Rautenbach (Martin Field) with Evangelina Hallock and Jan Combrink, who play his children, Lucy and Tristan, respectively. Picture: Supplied.

Frank Rautenbach (Martin Field) with Evangelina Hallock and Jan Combrink, who play his children, Lucy and Tristan, respectively. Picture: Supplied.

Published May 6, 2024


From a young age, award-winning actor Frank Rautenbach has been fascinated by the complexities of the human mind.

This prompted him to initially pursue a degree in industrial psychology and while he decided to venture into the entertainment industry instead, he believes that this knowledge has vastly improved his craft.

“I have always been fascinated by the human condition, so whenever I approach a role, my first question is, what kind of person is it that I'm trying to portray and what are their traits from a psychological point of view?

“When I prepare for a role, I do a bit of a profile of the character and I break them down. I really just think why would he say what he says, and why does he act in the way he acts? Because obviously, they are different to me.

“I am my own person and I have my own personality so I always go about it from a psychological angle,” he told Independent Media Lifestyle.

Rautenbach’s way of getting under the skin of his characters during his near two decades in the the film and TV industry has seen him stand out in his projects.

This includes “Summertide”, the hit M-Net family drama series where he plays the lead role of Martin Field, a marine biologist who, after the death of his wife, uproots his children from Italy to False Bay in the Western Cape to live with his parents.

Renowned South African actor, Frank Rautenbach stars as Martin Field in the M-Net drama series, 'Summertide'. Picture: Supplied.

“Playing the lead role in ‘Summertide' has been an absolute blessing,” he admitted.

“It's been so much fun and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”

He applauded the work of the show’s producers, Corné and René van Rooyen from Red Letter Day Pictures as well as the cast, which includes Amalia Uys, Monique Rockman, Tyrone Keogh, Jan Combrink, Evangelina Hallock and veteran actors Terry Norton and Andre Jacobs.

“They are really good at their jobs and they are passionate about their work and the show.”

Rautenbach has also been relishing the opportunity to work around the ocean and even enlisted the help of a marine biologist for this role.

“I spent time with a marine biologist to try to understand Martin Field’s world and I even did scuba diving because that is what he does and I really wanted to get to know the role personally.”

The seasoned actor has also tried to understand his character from a personal perspective.

“Martin is a straightforward guy but he’s also a complex character because he’s had a lot of complicated things happen in his life, so I had to dig deep and fight for the character and these kinds of things as an actor makes your juices flow.”

The actor and producer believes that the 52-part series, which tackles themes of grief, the transformative power of love, community, conservation and growth, is a hit with viewers because of its relatable storylines.

“It’s a family show which shows how South Africans get through life and this realness is really resonating with people and that's been a real joy for me to see and experience.”

While Rautenbach has been receiving rave reviews for his performance, he is no stranger to the industry and has starred in several high-profile productions.

His breakthrough role was in 2006 when he was cast in the feature film, “Faith Like Potatoes.” Two years later, he landed a role in the biographical sports film, “Hansie”, and he went on to do the Hollywood movie, “The Bang Bang Club”, alongside the likes of American actor, Ryan Phillippe.

Some of his more recent work includes starring in hit shows like local soapie, “7de Laan” as well as “Reyka” and “Lioness”.

Frank Rautenbach and Shannon Esra in ‘Lioness 2’. Picture: Supplied.

“At this point in my career, I am looking for something that is challenging and I am also always thinking about the audience, about how I can present a character to them in a way that they will find entertaining or elevating,” he said.

“Whether I am playing a villain or a good guy, I am always thinking about how it's going to affect the audience and how it will serve my career.”

And while viewers can catch Rautenbach in “Summertide” over the next few months, he is also set to reprise his role as Andrew Harting in the Netflix thriller series, “Unseen”.

The actor and his actress wife Leigh are also working on an upcoming Netflix medical drama series.

* Catch Rautenbach on “Summertide” on Sundays on M-Net (DStv channel 101) at 6pm.