Natalia Tena on Anchor & Hope, alternative families, and life on London’s canals
Nearly falling into a canal isn’t part of your typical interview. It is, however, perfectly Natalia Tena...
Natalia Tena (centre)
There are two explanations for the subtitle of this article. The first — Tena lives on a canal boat. The second— she’s quirky, infectiously-funny and, well, she has a habit of falling into things.
Natalia Tena in Anchor & Hope.
It was after being caught smoking at school, she tells DIVA, that she landed her first acting role as Ellie in hit, noughties film, About A Boy. Rather than detention, her drama teacher sent her to the auditions being held at her school.
From there, she got an agent, and has since become a successful British actor, starring in Harry Potter (as Nymphadora Tonks), Game Of Thrones, and more.
“There's always luck involved in these things, isn't there?” she says.
Natalia Tena as Nymphadora Tonks in Harry Potter.
Her new film, Anchor & Hope, is a modern, romantic comedy filmed on the canals of London, where Tena owns her own boat.
“I think the film was really inspired by canal life, and also by the film's director, Carlos Marques, living on a really good friend of mine's boat. Through that, he really got a sense of what it's like to live in an alternative London.”
It’s a film keen to challenge tradition, following the lives of lesbian couple, Kat (Natalia Tena) and Eva (Oona Chaplin), with their friend-turned-sperm-donor, and is an important portrayal of the alternative ways of living and loving.
David Verdaguer, Oona Chaplin, and Natalia Tena in Anchor & Hope.
“Stories are there to make people feel connected to other humans, and it's great for people to see that," adds Tena. "Two heterosexual white people living in a house, having a few kids and a fucking dog — that’s not all there is.”
Was it daunting to do a sex scene with one of her close friends, Oona Chaplin, who stars alongside Tena in Game Of Thrones?
“Having to do a sex scene with one of your closest friends — regardless of their gender — is always going to be like, ‘Mmm, I'm not sure about this!’ But actually, on the day, we fucking laughed so much.
"I remember at the time I had this horrendous cold and I was just sneezing all over her tits. It made it like, ‘Okay, we're just best friends being silly’, rather than, ‘Oh sweet Jesus, this is awkward.”
Oona Chaplin, Natalia Tena, and David Verdaguer on a canal boat in London for Anchor & Hope.
Natalia hopes that Anchor & Hope will make people laugh, but also enlighten those who don’t know much about LGBTQ+ families:
“When you're a heterosexual couple, you don't have to make that big decision of having a kid, where as with same-sex couples, there’s so much involved in starting a family.
"Things like how hard it is for lesbian or bi couples to go through IVF — it's really hard. My friend had to move to Scotland to try and have a baby because of how the system is rigged.”
David Verdaguer, Natalia Tena, and Oona Chaplin.
She also hopes it'll enlighten viewers about canal life. “At the moment people on the canal are getting kind of screwed by the council, and it would be great for people to realise — it's at this point that her dogs begins to bark — I'm really sorry, something really chaotic is happening!"
(As we're chatting on the phone, she's trying to find a bus stop with a violin in one hand, and a dog that isn't on a lead weaving between her legs, a scene that's a joy to imagine...)
“They're bringing in short-term moorings," she continues after the violin-dog-shaped dramas. "Raising the price of the moorings by like, thirty percent. They're selling off bits of richly populated land where people moor — it's really unacceptable. I hope it’ll change.”
One thing is sure. Tena is a woman of many talents. And the longer we speak, the clearer it becomes that she does it all on impulse. After drama school, she adds, she never actually believed she was going to be an actor:
“I got a scholarship to study Theology, Psychology and Philosophy in Australia, so that was my plan. It just so happened that I fell in love with someone in London while busking on the tube and, I just couldn't leave — so here I am.”
Happens to the best of us, eh?
Anchor & Hope is in cinemas across the UK from 28 September 2018. Check out our review in the October issue.
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