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Interview with Natasha Staples (Actress)
How did you get into the project? Was there a casting process or something different?
For the casting process, I applied to an open audition call on a casting website and was invited down to Brighton to audition by the director, Mike Carter. He sent me the script to read prior to the meeting, and I read it in one sitting on my sofa. I remember looking up and realizing the night had fallen while I was riveted to the story! The audition itself was as nerve-wracking as they always are, but Mike was so sweet, patient and great to audition for.
I remember walking along Brighton pier afterwards, just trying to calm down, and so aware of how much I wanted the part. When he cast me, he asked for my help to find the right 'Jack', my character's husband, to make sure we had onscreen chemistry, so I found myself auditioning potential husbands, which was mildly surreal.
How did you prepare for the role of Louis?
To prepare for the role of Louise, I found a wonderful book by the actress Natascha Mcelhone called After You, which is the incredibly beautiful and painfully honest account of her experience of being widowed when her husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I read it obsessively… and then things got really strange when Luke Healy, the actor playing Jack, saw me with it and told me Natascha was a close personal friend of his, with whom he had been staying recently in LA. I also worked with the brilliant Mel Churcher to make sure I got the accent right, and that none of my natural Canadian/South African accent crept through!
Connected has ingredients of drama, comedy, and paranormal films, how would you describe it?
Connected is a very careful balance of drama, romance and comedy. I would call it a romantic drama - with funny bits! It was a tricky thing to play, and I often found myself on set, wondering if I'd got close to the right feeling required for a particular scene. Mike was very free, and enormously trusting of his actors' instincts, which was one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me, professionally. But that didn't stop the doubt, and although the whole shoot was a joy - again, largely thanks to the qualities of trust, exploration and joy Mike brought to his set - I had some fairly strange times in my head. But ultimately, as with all films, the right note is found in the editing suite, and I think Mike and Lucas Tucknott pulled it off.
Is there any special memory from the filming days that you remember or hold dear?
I have many cherished moments of the shoot. As it was a low-budget shoot, we didn't have a catering truck. Luckily, it was a beautiful English spring, and our producer, Jackie, laid out picnic lunches on the lawn for us most days, and we'd watch the ducks waddling down to the pond and make daisy chains and try to tease Lucas, our brilliant cinematographer, by telling him there wasn't any Port Salut cheese left.
My favourite memory from the shoot has to be the day we shot the wedding flashback sequence - and I wore my own wedding dress, which had also been my grandmother's wedding dress. The young actress playing my daughter, Imogen Gearing, had come through open heart surgery 18 months before the shoot, and I remember driving home with her and her mother after filming that day, with the windows down and the music blaring. Imogen was clutching the bridal bouquet, which I'd given her, and grinning; it made my heart nearly burst to see her so happy.
Personally, do you believe in ghosts?
As for ghosts; yes, I do believe in them. My mother and I were just talking the other day, and mentioning a house that my sister used to live in, that was a few hundred years old. Mum mentioned that she once went to visit and was put in the guest bedroom on the second floor, but at she was in it for only a few minutes before she ran downstairs and demanded to be put in a different bedroom. I was amazed because I had had exactly the same reaction to that bedroom a few months before; a feeling that someone was breathing ice down my spine...but I hadn't mentioned it!
Are you working on any acting projects at the moment? Can you tell our viewers something about them?
I am writing this from the dressing room of my latest engagement; a five-month theatre tour of Frederick Knott's brilliant thriller, Dial M For Murder. Directed by Lucy Bailey, it is a very stylish homage to both the original play and the well-known film by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Grace Kelly.
We are currently in Edinburgh and will be travelling around the UK until the end of June. I am also currently filming the pilot episode of the Picture Palace of Peril's new web-series about super-heroines, in which I play the leader of the resistance, Kitty England. I don't have super-powers, but I do get to kick a lot of ass in a black catsuit! But I am most excited about my latest collaboration with Mike Carter; his next film, Fraternity, a World War II drama about two brothers with an intense rivalry, that eventually has devastating consequences for the whole family. Mike wrote the part of Sally, the girl that comes between the two brothers, for me. It is currently in post-production and will be ready for the international festival circuit in mid-2014.
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