Nathanael is a English actor about to be seen in the thriller/drama My Hero.
Playing Jake: the small time drug dealer who goes on the run with a nine-year-old girl this could be his breakout role. However, he’s been a jobbing actor for years, with his television debut in the comedy pilot Stevie International where he played hapless wannabe singer Steven Cox who tries to make an ill-fated, hilarious comeback after appearing on a well known reality TV show. Interestingly, in preparation for the role, Nathanael really auditioned for X Factor in character with hidden cameras and made it through the first rounds before being discovered and asked to exit the programme.
In 2014 he was cast as the lead role of Sirus in the popular gangster comedy ‘Hackney’s Finest’.
FTN: Hi Nathanael, it’s great to meet you, Let’s get straight into it. When did you first become interested in acting, and have you had any formal training or acting classes?
NW: What is it they say? You either didn’t get enough attention as a kid or you got too much? Not sure about mine, really. I’ve always loved making people laugh right from a very early age and creating my own little worlds.
I remember (before discovering girls) convincing every kid on my street that there was this huge crazy vampire alien monster invasion coming that we all had to team up to do battle with in this wasteland at the back of the street.
We basically all got tooled up and went and beat the s@#t out some bushes and skips! Ha! So maybe I’ve just always had an overactive imagination and it comes from that?!
I don’t come from a traditional, theatrical family so to speak, no one in my family are actors. Though there’s always been lots of drama in my house. Occasionally my mum would try and drag us to plays like ‘”here you go Nay, get some of that culture down ya!” and I think some of those experiences stayed with me.
I decided I wanted to go to drama school, so I auditioned for RADA and got a recall; there were three auditions, so in between that I auditioned for The East 15 Acting School. I really liked the ethos and vibe of the place and they offered me a place on the spot. So I didn’t bother going to my recall and just jumped headfirst in to three years training.
“I remember (before discovering girls) convincing every kid on my street that there was this huge crazy vampire alien monster invasion coming.”
FTN: You have an impressive portfolio and it’s clear to see you are as often behind the camera as you are in front since you are not only an actor but a Screenwriter and Director too. Which do you prefer, being in front of the camera or taking the step behind it?
NW: Well firstly, in many ways I’m just getting started. But thank you, watch this space!
As to a preference for being behind or in front of the camera it really depends on the project. It’s always a collaboration.
Without sounding too corny, it’s all storytelling and hopefully creating work that you’re proud of, so it’s whatever is right. I love writing and I have massive respect for good scriptwriting and good producers. Their role is often overlooked. There are some absolutely amazing visionary directors that I would give a testicle to work with as an actor! Just as there are also some phenomenal actors I would love to direct.
It really depends on the circumstances. I just want to do exciting work.
FTN: You have recently completed filming on My Hero; can you tell us a little bit about it?
NW: It’s a thriller/drama based on a real story. I play the lead character of Jake, a good-hearted but somewhat naive small time drug dealer on a council estate who has grown up in the care system and gets embroiled in a fight, which changes his life forever. He has to go on the run with a nine-year-old girl.
“Without sounding too corny, it’s all storytelling and hopefully creating work that you’re proud of, so it’s whatever is right.”
FTN: Your character, Jake, is the troubled youngster who seems to have bitten off more than he can chew. How did you come by this part and did you have to attend many auditions?
NW: Yeah he’s bitten off way more than he can chew, but the interesting thing is – what do you do in that situation? I’m always looking to play real characters in interesting situations. There’s a lot pre-conceived notions about people, like where people are from informing the type of person we think they are – like being from an estate.
Regarding auditions, I had one. I had just come off a feature film called Hackney’s Finest and had had a really frustrating few years where I would just get continually pencilled in for roles.
I’d get down to the last two or three and then they would go with a bigger name or whatever at the last minute. My agent put me up for a short film as he thought I would like to just do something. So I went to the audition, met Rob, got the role, went to Margate, shot it. Then I wrapped and I just couldn’t stop thinking about the character and the situation he had been in. Then I was supposed to go on a bigger film but the funding fell through at the last second, and I still couldn’t stop thinking about My Hero so I contacted Rob and said “you know the short, what if that was just the jumping off point for a feature film?”
Then we heard about this real life story that had parallels with our story and thought we needed to research it. So we developed it into a feature that I wrote in a very short time. From conception to execution it was about three months – I’m not sure if I recommend that, but it’s been an incredible ride. Rob, the director, lives in Margate and it’s an incredible place to shoot.
As an actor I’m very interested in character, and as a writer I’m very interested in story and what audiences haven’t seen before. With My Hero there’s a nice combination of that and a great ‘What if’ moment that motors the whole piece.
FTN: Filming in a seaside town always looks to be fun. Was the sun shining during filming or were you secretly hiding hot water bottles under your coat?
NW: We were quite lucky with the weather but it was a hard shoot, all low budgets are.
It is testimony to everyone involved that we got through it. So many amazing people helped us from crew to extras, to cast to execs. As everyone will tell you, low budget is hard – stretching money, scheduling, constantly cutting your cloth accordingly – it was exhausting and very painful at times. It takes a village to raise a child as they say, and it felt like we had the whole of Margate spurring us on at some points. I’m really proud of the film.
Margate looks amazing on camera, something about the light there, I don’t know – it just looks epic, there’s a reason why Turner painted there and Dickens wanted to write there.
“It takes a village to raise a child as they say, and it felt like we had the whole of Margate spurring us on at some points. I’m really proud of the film.”
FTN: We at FTN love our Gangster Movies (see, we aren’t just about Sci-Fi films you know) and in true FTN style, which of the following Gangsters would you choose to be: Michael Corleone (As you are a little young to be The Don), Henry Hill (Goodfellas), Tony Montana (Scarface) or… Jabba the Hutt (Why rule New York when you can rule the Galaxy?)
NW: Oh that is tough, and I love all those films. Montana would be fun, mainly because I love doing the voice. But you’re right, Jabba is the boss of the galaxy, except you’re basically a massive slug, so maybe Jabba – but Jabba circa original Star Wars where they got that Irish actor Declan Mulholland to stand in because they didn’t have VFX budget? Actually can’t I just be Han Solo? [Ed’s note – Yes, we’re impressed with the knowledge there]
FTN: Aside from My Hero, are there any other projects you are currently working that you can tell us about?
NW: Lots! If everything goes to plan I’m going to direct my first feature film next year.
I have a TV series that I’ve written that the producer will take to Neflix when I’ve finished this draft.
I’m also working with a great LA-based company called Arclight Films on a few of their films and just growing my own company Redeeming Features, which is expanding into video game production too.
My acting agent is retiring so I’m actually currently looking for a new one, but yeah – just mainly trying to continue to do interesting, work that I’m proud of really!
FTN: Well Nate, we really wish you the best with this and your upcoming projects and will be watching with great interest. Take care, sir…