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It's A Wonderful Afterlife - Goldy Notay interview

Goldy Notay in It's A Wonderful Afterlife

Interview by Rob Carnevale

GOLDY Notay talks about putting on weight for Gurinder Chadha’s new comedy It’s A Wonderful Afterlife, handling the pressure of arranged marriages and hooking up with “the girls” for Sex & The City 2.

Q. I gather you had to work on your fuller bodied look for the film? How did you go about doing that?
Goldy Notay: I did. I was asked to gain weight. Originally it was about a stone and a half, and towards the end of the film it was about two stone because I just kept eating. Sendhil [Ramamurthy] helped me with that by constantly supplying me with lots of sweet things! Gurinder [Chadha] had said that Roopi was not a very glamorous girl, so it was just removing all of that and finding the essence of who she was.

Q. Did you watch the takes every day and think ‘bloody hell…’? Who is that in the mirror kind of thing?
Goldy Notay: I didn’t see the film until the cast screening a couple of weeks ago. But then I thought ‘bloody hell’ [laughs aloud].

Q. Is it true that the camera also adds 10lbs?
Goldy Notay: Yes, especially in that situation. But you don’t have that many opportunities as an actress to gain weight; it’s usually the opposite. So, I took full advantage of that and ate all the things that I usually don’t eat.

Q. What’s that like? Was it hard work?
Goldy Notay: Well, sometimes. I’d have days when I’d be craving things that I really wasn’t meant to eat. I remember one day I was really craving a carrot juice, so decided to have one, and my partner came home and said: “Why are you doing this? You’re going to disappoint Gurinder! You should be drinking Frappuccinos… you’re really letting yourself down!” [laughs] I was guilt-ridden because I had a carrot juice. I’m quite an organic loving, gym going, carrot juice drinking kind of girl. But I also had days when I woke up and thought about what ice cream flavour I’d have today.

Q. Have you kept any naughty treats that you keep indulging?
Goldy Notay: Chocolate… and ice cream!

Q. There are a lot of scenes where you have to keep a straight face while knowing there are a group of people in the background you’re not supposed to be able to see. How difficult was that? Were there times you broke into laughter?
Goldy Notay: Initially, yes, there was a lot of laughter, especially when you’re doing a scene with Sanjeev Bhaskar… he’s just so hilarious and it was really difficult. But we got used to it towards the end. Sometimes, they make gesticulations within our sightlines and that was really hard too because naturally you’d want to look in that direction. So, we had several takes…

Q. You’re constantly being discussed in terms of what you look like in the film. Does that rub off on you at the end of the day?
Goldy Notay: I really appreciate that question because it was really hard and I did have moments where I was going through this journey with Roopi where you do eventually get to a point where you do take it personally because it is you, and so you’re trying to make that distinction between yourself and the character. So, of course I did have days where I’d go home and have a little cry because it did become quite personal. I think in the beginning, you’re informing your character, but then the two combine and your character starts to inform you and you really do start to carry your character home with you.

And so, of course, if someone made a comment, even if was aimed at my character, I would take it personally. I had some really difficult days. But I kept reminding myself that I just had to play the character and play the essence and the truth of that. So, if people are making those comments, you just have to throw that all into your character and use it as opposed to allowing it to prevent you from finding that truth to stigmatise you.

Q. Does the arranged marriage theme have any personal resonance for you? Do you know people who have been put in that position, whether it be family or friends?
Goldy Notay: I think just about every Asian person I’ve known has gone through it. There was a point in my life, too, where my parents were placing that pressure on me as well. It changed very quickly, though, because they knew early on that I would me making those types of decisions for my life and choosing whoever I wanted to be with. But I know some people for whom those conversations don’t end… they’re continuous and there is a lot of pressure and at some point you either give in or run away.

Q. How did you establish the ground rules?
Goldy Notay: I left home and went to drama school really. I didn’t sever ties with my parents but I think they were quite clear that I had particular dreams that I wanted to fulfil and one of them was not to get married. If I did choose to do it, then it would be my choice and not theirs. I really wanted them to know that they’d equipped me with enough sense that I’d be able to choose my partner and I think they realise that now. But it did take that time… that stage to have those conversations.

Q. Were they initially disappointed when you chose to marry someone who wasn’t Indian?
Goldy Notay: Absolutely not… that wasn’t an issue at all. I think first of all, they were just pleased that I made that decision to want to get married, but I think also they wanted me to be happy. Really, I think that’s what every parent wants for their child. So, it wasn’t an issue and when they met him it was affirmed that he was the right person. And he cooks! So, that’s a great factor too because it’s not an easy thing to find in life.

Q. What’s next for you?
Goldy Notay: I spent all of November in Marakesh filming Sex & The City 2, which is coming out in May. I play a character who is a Middle Eastern, very well to do woman who is part of a secret book club. She meets all the girls… so I’m looking forward to that coming out. And there’s a few other things in the pipeline, which we’re waiting to see.

Q. So how were the girls?
Goldy Notay: They were fabulous and I’m happy to report that they do eat carbs… all of them. I was really pleased [laughs]. And they wear high heels!

Read our interview with Gurinder Chadha

Read our interview with Sendhil Ramamurthy