Thursday, 19 December 2013

interview: Nicole Lewis

Nicole Lewis played Elizabeth in the Hallmark mini-series of Frankenstein. I met on the set in Slovakia in August 2003.

How did you get this part?
"About three weeks before I had this audition, I got a new agent and started meeting people. I went up for this part and had only one audition. I did the audition and straight away thought, ‘Wow! This is an amazing part. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein!’ but she started talking to me about something else so I thought, ‘Oh, never mind. That one’s gone.’ Then a week later I got a phone call - I think it was on the Monday - and they said, ‘Would you be able to fly to Slovakia tomorrow?’ And I said, ‘Yes!’ Then I found out in the afternoon that it was for definite and I had a few hours to pack and get ready to go, which I was not very good at."

And you’ve been here since.
"Yes., so it was absolutely fantastic. At the time I was still at college, so I had to clear that with my college, and I was also working part-time at a pizza restaurant. The week before the audition I had taken the night off to watch the Branagh film, just to make sure I was set for the audition. I got in trouble about that and they said, ‘Do you want this job?’ I was like, ‘Well, to be honest, this is my career.’ But I said, ‘Look, I promise you I’ll be here next Tuesday.’ Then obviously a week later, from the airport: ‘Um, I’m not going to be able to make it.’ Very exciting and completely overwhelming. Two weeks before I got this, if someone had asked me what I wanted to do, this would have been my description."

You were at college...
"I’ve finished now. I graduated on the 20th and I flew home for my graduation. Literally a few days. We had finished on location, we were up at the villa. I literally drove back and flew all day, did my graduation and then flew back two days later. I was studying acting, singing and dancing at Italia Conti but for the last two years I did just acting really."

Have you done any film or TV before?
"Yes, I did a TV series for Nickelodeon last year, a comedy sketch show called Laugh Out Loud. A ten-episode series, and a few other bits and pieces, but this has been a fantastic, really amazing time."

Are you learning as you go along?
"Yes, I’ve learned loads since we’ve been here. Everyone’s really lovely. Kevin Connor and Alec Newman and Alan Caso the DP’s great - everyone’s so friendly. Working with Alec has been great. It’s just happening. There’s been no time to think. As soon as I arrived, the first day I arrived, we pulled up at these studios which as you will have noticed are quite bizarre, do you not think? We came in, met a few people - the producers and Kevin - and they were like, ‘Right you have a dance rehearsal now. Go!’ So I went down here and met Alec and we were dancing together, because there’s a dance sequence in the wedding ceremony."

Have you shot your death scene yet?
"No, that’s right at the end of the shoot. But we’ve shot a lot of the early stuff. The wedding ceremony but not the wedding. There’s a lot of grief in the first few weeks. The first thing I did was my mother’s death. It was good to get straight into it."

How are you coping with being in Slovakia?
"I’m loving it. It’s so exciting. I’ve had a constant smile on my face since I got here. It’s quite tiring, learning everything and the whole atmosphere. It’s great to see how everyone works in a team and everyone plays their part to make this thing happen. I was acting with William Hurt last week which was a really good experience. He had some wonderful things to say about acting."

This is a great start. Is there a danger that your next job could be a let-down by comparison?
"I feel very privileged, very lucky that I’ve had the chance to work on this set. I think everything I’ve learnt and the experience of this I will take with me to, hopefully, my next job, touch wood. It’s just been such a great place to learn. A calm happy set - you couldn’t learn in any better environment than that, could you?"

Had you read the novel?
"As soon as I got here. Literally I hadn’t read the script until I got here. I had some bit-piece script to read on the plane which I read through, then we got our scripts when we got here. i spent a day reading the script and reading the novel. It’s incredible how close it is to the novel. Parts are even quoted from the novel. There are differences but it’s lovely that it is so close. Often, if we have a tough scene, I’ll have a look at the novel and refer to that. There’s a whole history in the book to bring to the piece, which is fantastic."

Apart from the Branagh, have you seen any other Frankenstein films?
"No, I haven’t. The only thing I know is that it is so close to her writing. We’ve had lots of discussion about it, Alec and myself and Kevin. Elizabeth is described in the book as ‘the light of the house in her smile’ and things like this. I just think they run totally different stories, Victor and Elizabeth, yet they’re affecting each other and everything that happens throughout the piece as a whole. It’s fantastic that she hasn’t been brushed aside. I hope she doesn’t come across as a feinting, screaming heroine because I think there’s a lot more to it than that. The whole time, she’s just wanting to love and protect Victor and make him happy. Then she’s also confused and worried the whole time because she doesn’t understand. She’s totally shut out from the man that she loves. The good thing is we did a lot of shooting at the house to set up this family environment. Alec has said a couple of times it’s a totally different shoot being here suddenly now from the environment that it was in the house. We set up these child scenes and scenes in the gazebo and dinner scenes. It’s great because the two different places give such a different atmosphere and set-up for you already."

Is there a little girl playing young Elizabeth?
"She looks identical to how you think I would look when I was little! It’s really scary - Mini-Me! That’s another element to it, this growing up and changing."

Have you done any scenes with Luke Goss in the monster make-up yet?
"Yes, we did one yesterday. I found it quite frightening actually. Obviously I don’t have interaction until the death scene, but this is a dream sequence that we filmed yesterday. I was waiting off-set behind the door, because we were coming through the door. I walked out and it was dark, and he was waiting there, I just went, ‘Eurgh!’ and turned round again. I have done one other scene with him actually when we were at the house but he was far back, onlooking, and I was painting up in the top, so I didn’t see him. It’s very impressive, I think."

Where do you want your career to go from here?
"Films are so exciting. I have so enjoyed it. just the incredible excitement of so many people working together for this one production. I absolutely, completely love it. I love period dramas. It has always been dream of mine to do period drama."

Is it the clothes?
"It’s everything. It’s the period, the language, yes the clothes, society, the way people are. I love all that kind of thing. So I’d love to do another period drama film. I’d love to do some theatre. Just be working and challenged."

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