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Family Tree - Nina Conti interview

Family Tree, Nina Conti

Compiled by Jack Foley

NINA Conti talks about appearing in new comedy Family Tree, her character Bea and why she was flattered to learn that the role had been specifically written with her in mind.

Family Tree is released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 23 courtesy of Universal Pictures (UK).

Q. What is Family Tree about?
Nina Conti: It’s about Tom Chadwick, he is the principle character and I play his sister Bea. And he decides that he is going to look into his ancestry a little bit, I guess he isn’t particularly grounded at the time. He’s out of a long term relationship; he’s out of a job so what does one do? He takes an interest in his family history.

Q. Tell us about the Family?
Nina Conti: It’s a very ordinary London family, but one goes in search of his family tree, which is a bit of a fad at the moment. So I would say it’s a pretty normal family and a bit dysfunctional. I think there is no normal family, everyone is a bit dysfunctional. I just think every family is a bit weird.

Q. Tell us about your role?
Nina Conti: I play Bea, she’s been with Monkey all her life. The incident which happened when she was a child, she has this traumatic incident which she had to go to a child psychologist in order to express herself so that’s why I’ve ended up with a monkey. Otherwise the family split a bit when the parents split. Tom grew up in Ireland and I grew up in London with my father, and many things I suppose, led her to a dependency on her imaginary friend the monkey.

Her dad’s married to this woman who’s bonkers (Luba), and the monkey and Luba have this terrible relationship they could tear each other to pieces. Luba cracks me up; it’s very difficult not to laugh at some of the things she says. It’s difficult because I have to think about what my characters going to be thinking and also think about what Monkey’s going to be thinking. You don’t want those two things to be the same, there has to be conflict. But it also has to come from the same psyche, so it’s quite testing sometimes. But its fun at the same time, I’m very comfortable working with Monkey. Right now it seems like we live together and do everything together, but I do have a life. But I’m so comfortable working with Monkey that I’ve made documentaries with him on the road and that’s fine. But the real challenge for me was to inflict him on the other actors. It was an infliction on other people I think.

Q. How was the role written for you?
Nina Conti: It was pretty much I think with us in mind. You definitely have so much fun doing it, for me I find it a struggle not to laugh. I think on day one that lunch I didn’t speak and everyone thought it was so funny, I found myself watching TV and then think I’m in it, I meant to be in it. But I don’t know what’s more frightening than having a script because then it’s about getting it right and learning the lines, it’s not like the Monkey relationship where anything you say fits. There’s no wrong or right.

Family Tree is released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 23, 2013, courtesy of Universal Pictures (UK).