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What The Cast Of District 9 Is Doing Now

The 2009 sci-fi film "District 9" is often considered one of the best movies in its respective genre. "Lord of the Rings" filmmaker Peter Jackson produced the film as an adaptation of the 2005 short film "Alive in Johannesburg" from South African filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, who also co-wrote and directed this feature. The film received rave reviews from critics and made over $210 million on a $30 million budget. It also received four Academy Award nominations, including best picture.

The movie revolves around Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a bureaucrat who is in charge of relocating space aliens called "Prawns" from the slum-like internment camp of District 9, located near the South African city of Johannesburg, to a different location outside the city called District 10, when he is exposed to alien biotechnology and must help two Prawns, Christopher Jackson (Jason Cope) and his son Little CJ, escape Earth in order to save himself.

"District 9" features lesser-known actors who have either appeared in smaller roles beforehand or never acted in a feature film until this point. Nevertheless, many of these actors have found successful careers in the entertainment industry after this film was released in theaters. We're here to explain what ten cast members from "District 9" are doing today. 

Sharlto Copley

After appearing in Alive in Johannesburg, Sharlto Copley made his feature-length acting debut in his friend's movie, "District 9," as its protagonist Wikus van de Merwe. Working at Multinational United (MNU), the weapons manufacturer assigned to keeping the Prawns in check, Wikus is tasked with relocating the 1.8 million aliens to another camp when he is exposed to alien fluid, belonging to a Prawn named Christopher Johnson, that slowly transforms him into a Prawn. When MNU tries to vivisect Wikus so that they can use his alien DNA to fire alien weaponry, he escapes and becomes a fugitive of the law. With nowhere else to go, Wikus teams up with Christopher to help him and his son, Little CJ, leave Earth in order to save himself.

Copley found plenty of success with "District 9" and reprised the role of Wikus for a Funny or Die sketch from 2010 that he wrote, directed, and produced called "Wikus and Charlize" where he tries to convince fellow South African celebrity Charlize Theron to present the Award for Best Afrikaans Pop album. Copley starred in several American movies such as 2010's "The A-Team," 2013's "Oldboy," and 2014's "Maleficent." He was also the lead on the PlayStation Network TV series "Powers," which premiered in 2015 and lasted for two seasons. Copley continued to work with Blomkamp on feature films (2013's "Elysium" and 2015's "Chappie") and short films (2017's "God: Serengeti" and 2018's "God: City").

Jason Cope

Jason Cope may not be a household name, but the South African actor did play a major role in "District 9." For starters, Cope did the motion capture work for Christopher Johnson, a Prawn who says he can "fix" Wikus in exchange for helping him and his son, Little CJ, escape Earth, and all of the speaking aliens. Cope also played the human UKNR correspondent Gray Bradnam, who is interviewed several times throughout the film about the alien situation in Johannesburg.

Cope continued to score roles in other projects. He appeared in several films over the years such as 2012's "Dredd" and 2013's "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," and had a recurring role on the Starz TV series "Black Sails." Cope also continued to collaborate with Blomkamp as he appeared in the 2015 feature film "Chappie" and three short films called "God: Serengeti" and "Adam: The Mirror" from 2017 as well as "God: City" from 2018.

David James

David James is another unknown South African actor who played a major role in "District 9." James portrayed one of the film's main antagonists, Koobus Venter, a ruthless and sadistic MNU mercenary who accompanies Wikus during the eviction of District 9 before attempting to capture him after he is infected. As seen throughout the film, Koobus takes great pleasure in torturing and murdering Prawns so when they tear him limb from limb at the end of the movie, it is somewhat cathartic.

While some professional critics including Munyaradzi Vomo of IOL deemed James' "District 9" performance as "Oscar-worthy material," he mostly played minor roles after its release. James appeared in several British TV shows such as "Wild at Heart," "Kidnap and Ransom," and "Strike Back."  

On the flip side, James had a major role in the South African vampire film "Eternity" from 2011. The film's director Chris Dos Santos, who was brought on late into development after its original director left over creative differences, said in an interview that he "hadn't had a chance" to talk to James about his character until after filming began.

Vanessa Haywood

South African actress and model Vanessa Haywood played Wikus' wife Tania in "District 9." At the beginning of the film, Tania very much loves Wikus and is concerned for him when he is taken to the hospital. After Wikus becomes a fugitive, however, MNU spreads lies that he had sexual relations with an alien, which leads Tania to turn on him. Near the end of the film, Tania says that she still loves Wikus and keeps a metal flower that she believes he made.

Although Haywood hasn't acted in many projects since then, she has still been heavily involved in the worldwide entertainment industry. In 2011, Haywood competed in the "Survivor South Africa: Maldives" episode "Celebs vs Plebs," which, per her website, "she describes as a phenomenal life-changing experience." 

Haywood is also a respected endurance athlete who is not only married to South African trail runner Ryan Sandes but has also competed in several races such as the ABSA Cape Epic, the Leadville 100 miler, and the Otter Trail Race.

Mandla Gaduka

South African actor Mandla Gaduka, who previously had the bit role of Choppa in the South African soap opera "Generations," played Fundiswa Mhlanga in "District 9." Fundiswa is Wikus' assistant and trainee during the eviction. In the end, Fundiswa awaits trial for exposing information about MNU's illegal experimentation on Prawns. Although Gaduka's role in "District 9" was small, it had a major impact on the film's climax.

Since the release of "District 9," Gaduka found plenty of success in South African television. He won two South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) for his work on the comedy "Gauteng Maboneng" and another one for his work on the soap opera "Ashes to Ashes."

Gaduka continued to pop up in movies after "District 9." He appeared in two American movies, 2011's "Machine Gun Preacher" and 2015's "Avengers: Age of Ultron," and one South African film, 2019's "Losing Lerato."

Eugene Khumbanyiwa

Malawian actor Eugene Khumbanyiwa played Obesandjo, the secondary antagonist of "District 9." This handicapped character is in charge of the Nigerian gang in District 9, which sells aliens cat food in exchange for their weapons. Obesandjo believes that he can use alien weaponry if he eats alien flesh. During the film's climax, one of Obesandjo's men tries to cut off Wikus' mutated arm when Little CJ remotely activates an exoskeleton inside the Nigerian gang's compound, which kills all the gangsters and blows up Obesandjo's head.

After "District 9," Khumbanyiwa starred in many television projects from around the world. He played Pastor Peter in the British TV movie from 2016 titled "Damilola, Our Loved Boy," which won two British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTAs), starring "Lovecraft Country" actress Wunmi Mosaku. Khumbanyiwa also appeared in the critically acclaimed Hulu miniseries "The Looming Tower" as Trenton Okuku, a Kenyan security guard at the American Embassy in Nairobi who survived the Embassy bombing and became a crucial witness.

Additionally, Khumbanyiwa continued to work with Blomkamp after "District 9." He appeared in the 2015 feature "Chappie" and the 2017 short film "Rakka," both of which also star Sigourney Weaver.

Kenneth Nkosi

After starring in the Oscar-winning South African drama "Tsotsi" in 2005 and starring in the South African comedy "White Wedding" in 2009, actor Kenneth Nkosi played Thomas, a good friend of Wikus, in "District 9." Thomas is an MNU security guard who assists Wikus in the alien eviction when a Prawn named Paul lightly injures him. Thomas survives but is never seen again after the eviction. Although Nkosi played a minor role in "District 9," he was already a name in South African film and likely appeared in the movie to attract South African moviegoers.

Fortunately, Nkosi continued to pop up in South African movies, TV shows, and live broadcasts. Some examples of the former include 2011's "Otelo Burning," 2015's "Ayanda," and 2017's "Five Fingers for Marseilles," all of which have either been nominated for or won SAFTAs. He also hosted the SABC2 World Cup show in 2010 as well as several South African reality shows such as "Class Act," "Wang Verstana," and "Kitchen Queens."

Louis Minnaar

Louis Minnaar appeared in several South African movies and TV shows such as "Circles in a Forest" and "Huis van Liefde" before he played Piet Smit, one of the main antagonists in "District 9." Piet is the managing director of MNU who sends his son-in-law, Wikus van de Merwe, to evict aliens from District 9. After Wikus is infected, Piet decides to vivisect him for research and stares emotionlessly at his son-in-law as he begs for his life. After Wikus becomes a fugitive, Piet lies to his daughter Tania that Wikus had sexual relations with a Prawn and turns her against him. Although his status at the end of the movie is unknown, Piet was likely implicated in the data leak of MNU's illegal alien experimentation, which he was a part of.

After "District 9," Minnaar popped up in more movies from around the world. Some of his South African filmography includes 2012's "Semi-Soet," 2017's "Vuil Wasgoed," and 2019's "The Harvesters." Minnaar also appeared in Clint Eastwood's 2009 biopic "Invictus."

William Allen Young

American actor William Allen Young, who previously appeared in several Oscar-nominated movies such as "Jagged Edge" and "A Soldier's Story," played Dirk Michaels, the CEO of MNU, in "District 9." Although Young is one of the more established actors in the film's cast, his character only appeared in two scenes: In an interview where he says that the aliens are not going anywhere and during a newscast where he says the explosion at the MNU Headquarters is a terrorist attack. Even though MNU is a South African company, Dirk does not speak with a South African accent and is likely not South African.

After "District 9," Young made guest appearances on many American TV shows as well as acting in some movies. "Castle," "Madame Secretary," and "This is Us" are just a few of the shows that Young popped up in. The only movies that has Young acted in since "District 9" are TV movies such as 2011's "Rock the House," 2014's "The Cookie Mobster," and 2019's "Christmas Hotel."

Young is also a well-respected humanitarian. He has received several distinguished awards including the NAACP Social Achievement Award, the President's Icon Award, and the Man of the Year Award from the National Organization of Women at Work. Additionally, President Bill Clinton named Young an Ambassador of Goodwill, which means that he advocates for a specific cause or global issue on the basis of his notability as a public figure.

Robert Hobbs

South African actor Robert Hobbs, who previously appeared in the 2004 South African drama "In My Country," starring Samuel L. Jackson and Juliette Binoche, played a minor character in "District 9" named Pienaar, an MNU mercenary under the command of Koobus Venter. He is seen in the firefight with Nigerians near the end of the film and is ordered to beat up Christopher to make him talk about his plan with Wikus. After Pienaar is ordered to execute Christopher, he smiles and is about to pull the trigger when Wikus uses the Exosuit's electricity-shooting ARC gun to dismember him.

Even though Hobbs' character was less significant than his co-star James, the former scored roles in comparatively bigger projects since "District 9." He appeared in several American movies and TV shows such as "Safe House," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," "Black Sails," and "The Mauritanian." Hobbs also continued to collaborate with Blomkamp, acting in "Chappie" in 2015, and two of his short films, "Rakka" and "Firebase" in 2017.