Welcome to the Q&A section. You can read Nat's answers to questions that have been posted by his fans.

If you'd like to ask something, please remember this: There's no guarantee that Nat will ever answer your questions. Please take this into account when posting your questions in our forum. This is an opportunity for you to try and ask the things that really do interest you and that might be interesting enough to be read by others.


Q Do you think you will ever do Theatre again? And if so what theatre production would you most want to do?
A Thanks very much for that question. I was actually scheduled to do a play at the beginning of this year, but unfortunately it wasn't quite right for me. To be honest the concept of being away from my family EVERY night for however many months, not putting the kids to bed and being paid very little, was too much. Also I do think that as wonderful as drama can be in the theatre, comedy is best live and drama is best up close, which usually means seeing the faces of the actors up close, in other words screen. A straight answer would be that, yes I would love to do more theatre, but ideally, it would be comedy, in a small space and not for too long.
Q Could you tell us about your study time?
What do you prefer, Stanslasky, Strasberg or Adler as an actor`s influence?
Did you ever read Denis Diderot "Das Paradox über den Schauspieler"- "the actor´s paradox"?
A I can deal with the first three quite quickly. I studied at LAMDA for 3 years and follow the rather arrogant British trait of not continuing my studies at class. Of course alot of American actors I know do that and all credit to them. I suppose our arrogance is backed by a solid foundation of training when younger, which American actors don't always have the ability to do. On the American side, of course, we can touch on method acting. Actually I think of it as a a bit discriminating, rather like character acting. I feel we all have our own method and we are all acting characters. Just because I muck around on set a lot and do high kicks before a take, and play lead roles, doesn't mean that I am not employing my own method and playing a fully formed character.
I have been lucky enough to work with some of the greats, including "method actors" like Hoffman. His talent, his dedication and performance are beyond reproach and yet no more valid that someone who tips up at the last moment and says his lines and goes off again afterwards. As long as they both do the job. As Olivier used to say, "It's only acting, love."
Q What´s your all time favourite movie?
A Next question about my fav film. Very difficult that. There are so many fantastic ones that are my favourite type of film. Romauld et Juliette is probably my fav modern romantic film, Return of Martin Guerre, one of my fav historical films. Recently, obviously, Haunted Mansion was a massive work of art and importance that ranks up there with the greats.
Actually, my fav film is the next one I am going to do, usually.
Q What would be your favourite project in filming, if you'd have the choice?
A My ideal job would probably be Shakespeare on film. The best words on my fav medium.
Q If you were born with other life prospects - what would you do now (working for a living) ?
A Finally, if I had to work for a living, a bit cheeky that bit!, I would probably have been somewhere in the financial world. A bit boring I know, but the world does revolve around money and it is important to figure out how it works. My other, much more exciting choice, would be something in the horse racing world. Either training or full time gambling. Perish the thought.
Q You've given two absolutely brilliant performances in film versions of Shakespeare's plays - as Laertes in Hamlet and Cassio in Othello. Do you enjoy performing Shakespeare and do you have any plans to bring any other Shakespearean characters to life?
A I have actually just responded to another question about what would my favourite job be. I love to do Shakespeare on film. The very best words and my favourite medium. I tried to persuade the BBC to let me be in their upcoming season of new versions of Shakespeare, but to no avail. I would dearly love to.
Those 2 films were a lot of fun to work on, particularly my brother's Othello, and somehow I would love to do more.
Q What factors do you consider when deciding whether you want to record a book?
A I am glad you like the books I have done. My father always thought it was some of my best work. Cheeky devil! I used to think, but it is actually about as challenging as it gets. What happens is this: I am asked if I have the days free. Obviously depending on the book the time factor varies. Far From The Madding Crowd took me just under 5 days. That's quite a commitment when the pay is so poor. I have lost the opportunity to go for "proper" jobs because I have been recording, and that is a bit of a pain.
Q What preparation for the recordings do you find works best for you? (And at what point do you decide to use a particular voice/accent/interpretation?)
A Then I get the book sent and I try to read it as quickly and thoroughly as I can. Life doesn't always give the opportunity of reading a book twice, once come to think of it. I am generally prepared to do any book, whether for kids or grown up poetry, as you can probably tell by the varied mix of stuff I've done so far. As I go through the book I begin to make a list of people who appear. The central character, tends to have the voice closest to my own. This is not always possible, as with Artemis Fowl. After all, I am over 3 times older than him, and not Irish. I make a thumbnail description of the people. All very simple, for example, "woman, 60, well educated, well off" and then try to see if there are later clues that can tell me if they have an accent rather than just character.
Q Have you used a voice coach for any of your voices/accents - or are you just a naturally brilliant mimic?!
A No voice coach has ever come on my radar before this week on my brother's film. I am playing an Italian and need to speak Italian or English with an accent. I can just about do both, particularly the latter, but it is Olly's film and woe betide me if I don't try my very hardest to get it right.
Q How much input does the producer/director have, before and during the recording?
A On the same front the producer who sits the other side of the glass in the tiny studios only really keeps me on the right lines. If there is an issue of an accent or mixture then they can be quite firm. That's great because I am best when I work with others rather than just solo.
Q You've done such a wide variety of books... you must have some favourites?
A As far as my favourites go, well Artemis has to up there, but also my very first was one of my best and favourites, David Copperfield. I don't usually like doing abridgements, but that was edited so well. I wept as I read the death of his love. Had to stop for a while and try again. That book had some great characters, but really difficult ones. The whole social spectrum in the most annoying (accent wise) parts of Britain. I loved doing that one.
Q Because you make them such 'real' people I have too many favourite characters to list here, but who are among your own personal favourites - and why?!
A In fact I love doing almost all of them. But possibly my favourite character to read is Butler in Artemis. Opal Koboi in his latest is my hardest, so I was really glad with the ending!
Q What would you say is the easiest and/or most difficult medium to work in...stage, film or TV?
A There isn't really an easier medium. They all require two things in my opinion. The first is the acting part, which is believing what you're doing. The second is that all demand different muscles to be used. There is never enough time or money to do things as you really want to so compromise and solution finding are vital.
Q I enjoyed Othello and I would love to know if Anna and you are ever going to make another movie together.
A I would love to work with Anna again. She taught me a lot when we did Othello. Just having her there would keep me on my toes. Unfortunately there are no plans at present. Maybe Olly's next movie, you never know.
Q As I see you did a lot of costume drama's like Vanity Fair. I just want to know why they ask you for that kind of films and why they don't ask you to do some "modern" films?
A I have done a few costume dramas haven't I? I think that's the accent. There are always parts for my kind of voice in those shows. Unfortunately I don't usually get them, but as you say I have done my fair share. And I would love to do more. They are great fun as a genre. When you say modern, I am a bit confused, because Lynley isn't exactly period! Maybe it comes across as that sometimes, but that's more his character than reality. Generally I have to be honest and say that as an actor it is my duty to accept any job where they'll have me. Well, not quite, but if the parts good... Of course there is the more serious point that most modern stuff is filled with more regional accents nowadays and, although I am begging to do that kind of a part, I am not the first person who springs to mind when searching for a Yorkshire lad who spends his life fell running.
Q From what I understand, you had a very fun/enjoyable experience on the set of Haunted Mansion during its filming. Despite other projects / endeavours at your feet, will you ever consider doing another movie in America, and/or have there been offers at the present in regards to that?
A Debbie, you are right. I had a tremendously fun time doing Haunted Mansion. There have been a couple of things that have wafted past, but my dilemma is that I have been too busy to follow up anything. Great in one way, to be working, but maybe I should put Lynley to bed and move on. It's a very difficult choice. I tend to think a bit like Michael Caine, that if they offer work, take it.
Q Do you have a favourite character from a novel that you would love to bring to life on the stage or screen?
A Sharon, (now there's a familiar name) when I read a book I almost always want to play all of the characters. That's one of the reasons I read books onto tape so much.
If I really rubbed both brain cells together I think I would have to say..... I don't know I really don't. perhaps you could suggest something.
Q Which of the many audio-books / radio-plays you recorded would you favour to repeat in a movie?
A There is a book I read onto tape some years ago by C Day Lewis called the The Beast Must Die. He used his pen name, Nicholas Blake. There is a cracking thriller to be done on screen. I did briefly try writing a bit of a draft for the screenplay, but I need help doing that kind of thing and I never followed it through properly. I must say that The Tenth Man by Graham Greene that we did on radio would make a gripping film too. It was actually made into a film, with a wonderful cast but it is a shadow of what it could be. I don't know why but it missed the mark. There is a gem there I think.

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