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INTERVIEW: Natalie Becker on 'Atlantis'

Actress Natalie Becker talks with SPL!NG about her latest movie 'Atlantis: End of a World, Birth of a Legend'... scheduled to air in South Africa on BBC Knowledge, 1 May 2011 at 21h30.

Why did you want to do it?

Natalie Becker:
I have always been fascinated the myth or legend of the lost city of Atlantis so this was an opportunity to be part of telling that story based on the latest factual evidence unearthed by the BBC - so that was  very exciting for me. I also love my character, 'Ariad'.

I love her complexity and duality and I always enjoy playing characters who grapple with their light and dark sides and with difficult choices, I think it's something we can all identify with. She has a lot of depth and darkness and is quite unpredictable. I also wanted to work with this very talented cast.

SPL!NG: What was it like shooting with "Mitch"?

Natalie Becker: "Mitch" or Tony Mitchell was an awesome director to work with. He has the admiration and respect of the entire cast and crew for his dedication and commitment to this project. There were so many variables he was working with, yet he always had the time and energy to guide, nurture and direct his actors so well amidst all of that. And there were some really humorous light moments on set too.

He was kind, clear and so passionate about this project that his energy made everyone on set want to give it our all too. He really set an example. He's also made such incredible movies and  is an expert in his field - we just knew the end result was going to be spectacular.

SPL!NG: Did you enjoy working with co-stars, Reece Ritchie and Stephanie Leonidas?

Natalie Becker: Loved working with Stephanie and Reece - so professional and such skilled actors and watching some of Reece's scenes nearly had me in tears because they were so powerful and moving. They were such kindred spirits and good sports too and we had huge fun!

Can you talk about your impressions of working on the virtual back lot production technique?

Natalie Becker: I guess I can - it was interesting and challenging. I experienced some of it when we did CGI for Scorpion King 2 with Universal pictures but not to this extent. Of course, you still get to work off your fellow actors but the whole experience of green screen can be a real test of your actors' faith! [She laughs] There was a funny moment, when Mitch gave me a set of 'green screen eyebrows' to stick onto mine because he said my eyebrows were moving too much!

SPL!NG: How did you prepare for the role of Ariad?

Natalie Becker: I gleaned a lot about what they wanted from the character through the series of auditions and then also in the readings with Mitch and the other actors. I did dialect classes with the lovely Bo Petersen to get the correct accent. There are many different ways of preparing and I like to take time alone and imagine and allow the character to grow and take on its life.

I like to inhabit and feel the character and imagine what she would experience in the scenes or situations being her, and bring the performance to life with my truth and energy and tell the story. I also did read-throughs and rehearsals with fellow actors but ultimately one also needs to be alive and open and connected to your instrument and your fellow actors and director on set to allow the magic to happen.

What was the most challenging aspect of the role?

Natalie Becker: One of the most challenging aspects of this role was to not play her as an outright villain, because she's not. The challenge was not to give her away but to balance her complexities, her light and shadow aspects, so you don't see her coming. To create an almost unassuming presence in the movie and allow the circumstances and situations in the movie to affect her and allow her to surprise us...

SPL!NG: Can you talk about the wardrobe in Atlantis?

Natalie Becker: It's pretty historically accurate except that Minoan women at that time did not cover their breasts. :)

SPL!NG: What's your interpretation of the role you play in this film?

Natalie Becker: She is a woman torn between the sacrifices she has to make for her duty as an Atlantean priestess and the role that's she's expected to play; and her vulnerability and quiet desperation in the face of the loss of the man she loves. She's also drawn into the schemes of others not so well meaning, who use her vulnerability for their own gains. So she's a complex woman: powerful and bound by her duty as a priestess, and at the same time, a passionate and vulnerable woman in love, who must make the ultimate choice.

SPL!NG: What are you doing next?

Natalie Becker: I travel abroad in May, to expand my acting career and passions globally and in order to be well-represented abroad. Also to be a cultural and humanitarian ambassador globally - I speak at a benefit gala in New York for an amazing organisation called Lalell Project, where  a group of dedicated, passionate people use creative arts to uplift, inspire and empower youth in the townships of Hout Bay. I am looking at some film scripts and collaborating as an actor and producer in some amazing cultural projects. I am also involved with some great humanitarian organisations doing wonderful things, which inspires me hugely. I continue developing my website www.nataliebeckerlive.com.


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