Film Interview: Natasha Loring – Girl You Know It’s True, Or Accenting The Details

June 29, 2024

 

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

The biographical film drama Girl You Know It`s True tells the story of the meteoric rise and fall of Milli Vanilli, the pop superstars of the late Eighties and early Nineties. Natasha Loring stars as ‘Lisa’.

 

In the lead-up to a new production, how do you prepare?

I’ve never had a go-to technique. When I started acting I felt really insecure about this, but as I’ve become more experienced, I’ve realised mixing methods is what keeps it interesting for me. When I’m too rigid all the joy is sucked out of it like I am trying to solve a maths equation. The more I can stay out of my head, and as far away from judging myself, the better! The script is the treasure map. I read it many times in the beginning and I return to it often. All the clues are in there – the world you are in, the person you are in this world and your purpose in this particular story. I use how I relate to the character and their experiences as a starting point and then, I try to understand our differences. I do this in the way you would try to understand anyone, by asking questions. I use journalling a lot when I am stuck on something and answers usually come to me –
sometimes immediately when I am writing, sometimes days later – usually it’s when I am out on a run or in the shower. I always feel a little silly journalling and a little ‘woo-woo’ asking an imaginary person questions, but it almost always gives me the answer and gets me where I need to be. It’s just like getting to know someone – the more time you spend with them, the more you understand.

 

Do you do anything specific physically?

I use physicality as a way of understanding where this character holds tension in their body, and why. I try not overthink it, I like to feel it naturally. I don’t usually find the physicality of the character until I’m in the clothes. I’ve heard some other actors say this but the character’s shoes are the final piece of the puzzle for me – I instantly understand how they walk and hold themselves when I’m quite literally ‘in their shoes.’ I haven’t yet been required to transform totally for a role or intensely learn a new skill in some kind of bootcamp – I’d love to do something like that! Anything really; sword fighting, precision driving, holding
my breath underwater like Kate Winslet for Avatar. Ha! That kind of intense transformation or deep dive into a new skill I think suits my personality. Getting stuck in and no time to think too much…. and I’d get really competitive with myself, I bet.

 

Mentally?

I get a lot of my ideas on the script and character while our on a run or walk, it also helps me feel stronger and clearer mentally when I am fit so I try to prioritise that. All the journalling I mentioned, research and reading the script and marking it out in detail helps me to feel mentally prepared. Getting inspired by the music and fashion of the era (if its a period piece) is something I like to do. I listened to a lot of Milli Vanilli and music of that time leading up to this shoot. Once thing I always do is I create a mind map of all the events my character is in and what my characters emotional state is in each of these scenes as well as any other important details to remember. So when we are shooting out of order I can use this guide to quickly find out where we are in the story and what has happened so far. Again, these aren’t a science for me, but the more prep I can do before, the more relaxed I am on set.

 

And emotionally?

I’ll let you know when I find the answer to this! Some characters are easier than others to get into and out of emotionally. I think grounding myself at the end of a shoot day like having a nice bath if there is time, eating a good meal or chatting to a cast
member about the day helps to decompress. Most important for me emotionally is learning to let it go – sometimes shoot days don’t go the way you expect and I can get really hung up on this. This is crucial for me – learning to let go of what has been
filmed, trust that my director and editors have got it and instead, focus on what’s coming up next.

 

What is the single most influential performance you’ve ever seen – the one that made you feel: “This is what I want to do with my life!”?

I feel I have so many influences, I can never think of just one. I will say though, as a child I was obsessed with Julia Roberts, particularly in Pretty Woman! Not sure if it was appropriate for a kid to be obsessed with a film about a sex-worker, but something about Julia Roberts is magnetic and I couldn’t get enough of her and that film. Lion King and The Little Mermaid inspired my dream of being a voice actor. I don’t think I knew it at the time but when I was at film school, Ned Lott, the casting director for almost every Disney film of that era, came to give a talk in Cape Town and something in me lit up! I remembering the thrill these films gave me as a kid and I knew then I wanted to pursue becoming a voice artist. A performance I recently loved from the recent Oscar films is Sandra Hüller in Anatomy Of A Fall. So subtle, yet so alive! You think you know her and then she does something tiny and nuanced that makes you change your mind completely about who you think she is. It’s unpredictable but so real and raw. I think she is brilliant!

 

What is your favourite aspect of the industry – be it specific people, parts of the production process, particular venues/locations or something else?

I love shooting on location! Travel and meeting new people are passions of mine and being able to be in a different location from my day to day life really helps me dive-in to the project too. When I was filming DAM for Showmax we shot in the tiny town of Bedford in the Eastern Cape. That landscape, the people and the environment really helped me understand my character. I love the camaraderie that is developed on set with your cast and crew. The bond that is developed through working together to create a shared vision is really exciting to me. Often you start out as strangers and by the end everyone feels like family. Playing dress up and pretending to be someone else, or putting on funny voices, like I do for voiceovers is just like being a kid. We’re just playing make-believe. Sometimes it can all get a little serious but when I try to remember that, there is far more freedom and its certainly more enjoyable.

 

What is an aspect of the industry that you feel could be improved (even if that’s only an idealistic wish)?

I love the process of rehearsals and discovering your character and getting to know the other actors before you begin shooting. Very often with film there isn’t the time (or money) to have any rehearsals. I wish there was more of that. More funding for Indies and original ideas and less for reboots, sequels and superhero films. More people supporting cinema – it really is the best way to see a film and it’s how films make money to make more films. Oh and not making movies 2,5+ hours unless there is an intended commercial break. Missing a part of the movie to get up to pee is really annoying!

 

What has been your scariest onstage/on set moment so far (anything from forgetting words or cues to accidents or other unforeseen events)?

When I visited LA for the first time I got an audition for a massive Marvel film with Sarah Finn. When I got into the waiting room, superheros surrounded me and were staring down at me from the giant posters. The character was a fast-talking, nervous neighbour with a crush and I had learned it all in an American accent. When I got into the room, Sarah said “Oh! I love your accent! Let’s do the scene like that”. I hadn’t rehearsed it in my South African accent and hearing it come out of my mouth for the first time in the room totally freaked me out I bombed and I forgot all my lines! I blush pretty badly and I was bright red. It got so bad that she said to me, “Do you want to go out and splash your face with water?” …. and I did! Needless to say, I have not gone in for another audition with her since. Oops. It’s a strange thing to say as an actor but I get massive performance anxiety. So almost every time I get up to do anything – audition, a film, voiceover – I feel deathly afraid. But once I am in and let go, it’s a wonderful and freeing feeling.

 

Tell us about your current production, and what makes your character interesting to play?

Lisa was a really fun character to play. She is all love… and all about enjoying life. Before shooting Girl You Know It’s True, I was filming DAM – that experience was wonderful in its own way, but the subject matter was dark and the character, Sienna, carried a lot of baggage. After that, it was a relief to play Lisa who doesn’t have a worry in the world. There is an innocence to the way she experiences things; nothing is too serious and she goes where the fun is, which is not surprising that she is around Milli Vanilli at the height of their LA fame! She is technically their LA accent coach, but she is definitely there for more of the party than the work. The hair was a whole process and there were multiple hair cuts, tests and extensions. The second we
found her look and I put on the wardrobe – the best cowboy boots, accessories and kimonos from the incredible styling team! – the character was right there. I didn’t plan very much at all with Lisa – I prepped but for being on set, letting lose and being free was the key. It was a lot of fun. We got to improv in some takes and something about Lisa made me feel wild and free. I hope that comes across in the film.

 

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