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You Instead – Natalia Tena interview

You Instead

Interview by Rob Carnevale

NATALIA Tena talks about tackling some of the challenges of making You Instead, a film about two rival musicians who meet at T in the Park and spend most of the festival handcuffed to each other.

She also talks about playing festivals with her band, Molotov Jukebox, and why she finds acting more nerve-wracking than performing on stage as a musician.

Q. I’d imagine that shooting You Instead around T in The Park was fun as well as tiring?
Natalia Tena: The guy that plays Luke’s manager, Gavin Mitchell, went out there acting like a mental American… acting like he was on a lot of drugs… and he had to go and actually do this and terrified people. One security member actually tried to take him down, which was so odd. But that’s brilliant.

Q. So, what was the best and worst element of making it? I’d imagine the mud would have to rate pretty highly on the worst?
Natalia Tena: I don’t mind mud. But the cold and being tired were the worst bits. Everything else was banging.

Q. How challenging was it to be handcuffed to Luke Treadaway for so much of the film?
Natalia Tena: At times it became quite difficult but we quickly got used to it. It was more like: “Oh, I need to hurry up!” So, it was more about making the person go with you, or being able to tell them: “Wait, slow down a second, I need to roll a cigarette…” It was more those kind of things.

Q. The Tainted Love sequence is really fun to watch. How was it to perform in front of a live crowd?
Natalia Tena: It was huge fun. They were just going for it and screaming, which was cool. Eventually, as my character realises what Luke’s character is doing is actually quite banging and that she’s got to go with it… we were going to do a bit at the end where she tries to push him over. I wish we’d done that [laughs].

Q. You came to the T in The Park set from having done a few sets at Glastonbury with your band Molotov Jukebox?
Natalia Tena: Yes, I did four sets in five hours, which is mental. This year, I only did seven gigs at Glastonbury, which is also insane! But I’ve done a lot of festivals – this summer, I’ve done 17, so I’m quite used to the mud. It’s actually getting to the point now where I really want a break so I can enjoy them again. This year it was a bit like: “Oh no, Glastonbury!” But it shouldn’t be like that. Although this year’s Glastonbury was very muddy.

Q. What’s the best festival experience you’ve had as a musician or as a fan?
Natalia Tena: I actually think, weirdly, I’ve enjoyed one in Italy called Pennabilli [Artisti in Piazza 2011], a tiny festival that was so beautiful. You’re surrounded by this beauty and cobbled stones… there’s amazing food and amazing wine all the time. This is how amazing it is… the portaloos are impeccable! I saw one woman leave a portaloo and I thought: “I’ve got to go and check this out…” There was one bottle in the sink and the cleanliness was amazing. So, maybe that was because it was just so opposite to what you normally expect.

Q. I’ve read that you get more nervous being an actress than a singer. Why is that? And are you getting more used to acting as you’re part of bigger films such as Harry Potter [as Nymphadora Tonks]?
Natalia Tena: Yeah, well those ones are a bit easier in a way. I mean, they’re daunting when you get to the final product and realise everyone is going to see them. But with theatre, which is a great love of mine, it’s just scary. It’s a different brain bit that you have to put in and it’s very daunting. There’s nothing like blacking out on stage and having no idea what you’re supposed to say next. You know it inside, because you’ve done it for three months, but you just freeze. So, there’s more fear for me in doing that. I’ve been doing music since I was five. I mean, you do get those moments on stage where you’re like: “I want to get off this stage…” But you have all your band-mates and you can disguise a lot of that with music. It’s not the same as just being you, saying your lines and being a character – that’s a whole different ball game.

Q. So, what made you choose acting?
Natalia Tena: It kind of chose me really. I’d kind of done it in school loads and loads, but I got caught smoking outside drama school at boarding school… my drama teacher saw me and said: “Nat, can you stop smoking and go to the audition!” And it was for About A Boy and I got the part. And then I fell in love with it properly.

Q. You’ve just finished working with Robert Pattinson on Bel Ami, so how was that?
Natalia Tena: I used to know Robert before he was massive, we were really good mates for a few months when we were younger, so when I saw him again, I was like: “Yes Rob!” We’ve got a sex scene, so that’s going to be fun. He was just a bit quieter I suppose… being famous can do that.

Read our review of You Instead

Read our interview with Luke Treadaway