Goldy Notay is a name to watch out for this year as she has a handful of exciting projects in the pipeline this year, including comedy Amar, Akbar and Tony and the more hard-hitting Red River.
We caught up with the actress to chat about Amar, Akbar and Tony - which is released next month - and the other projects that she has on the horizon throughout 2015.
- You are set to return to the big screen next month with Amar, Akbar and Tony, so can you tell me a bit about the film?
It's about 3 childhood friends from differing religious backgrounds but have the cultural common ground of West London. The boys love partying, girls, and general lad badness until life throws them a curve ball, which tests the foundation of their friendship.
I suppose the grand metaphor being-what happens when the party abruptly ends and you are catapulted into adulthood. It's a coming of age comedy with some pointed dark moments.
- You take on the role of Sonia in the film, so what was the appeal of this character and Atul Malhotra's script when you ready it for the first time?
I had a meeting with Atul and thought he was such a great, no-nonsense guy. He had seen some of my previous work so luckily I was shepherded through the process without an audition. I was sent the script which I not only found laugh-out-loud funny but a refreshing diversion from the norm; a modern look at family, honour, and the quest for love in British Asian Londoners.
I play Sonia, Amar's sister, who is feisty and flirty and gives the impression she's been around the block a few times. I had an instant love for her when I read the script, as she was a departure from the characters I normally play. She was totally uninhibited and unashamedly so and I knew she'd flex and stretch me. I remember being on set and looking at a few sample clothes for her.
I tried on a too tight short dress (the kind that would ride up to your hips if you sat down) and I remember thinking "Yup, here she is. Here's Sonia".
- The movie follows the lives of these three childhood friends, Amar, Akbar & Tony where does Sonia fit into the story? And how are we going to see her develop throughout the film?
Sonia is quite close to her brother evidenced in them galavanting and clubbing together. Asian brothers can often be parental figures, but the two of them have a great deal of camaraderie as siblings.
As Amar's story unfolds, and the family are faced with an indelible crisis, Sonia goes through a personal life transition as a result. The dresses get longer and she becomes a bit more firm footed.
- Atul Malhotra is in the director's chair as well as having penned the screenplay. How did you find him as a filmmaker as this is his big screen feature debut?
Atul is one of the coolest guys I know. He has a 70's style to his filmmaking. Elongated Scorsese shots with a bit of pointed Peter Sellers humour, topped with Starksy & Hutch slickness.
He lost heaps of weight and probably hadn't reached REM for years because of his commitment to this film. He's total heart and I'll jump through fire hoops to work with him again.
- How collaborative a process was it between the actors and the director? How open was Atul to you bringing your ideas to the table and to the characters?
What is firm on paper can often change whilst filming but some writers are incredibly precious about this and Atul wasn't. He was open to improvising as long as the essence of what he'd written remained intact. It was a very egalitarian process.
- A terrific cast has been assembled for the film, as Rez Kempton, Sam Vincenti, Martin Delaney, Karen David, Laura Aikman, and Meera Syal are all on board. How did you find working with them and what was the feeling like on set?
I introduced Meera to the project but we didn't get to work together due to differing shoot days. Rez, Sam, and Martin are fantastic in the film and although their character personalities differ, it was completely believable that they were friends. We had heaps of fun on set but we also had long fatigue ridden days with copious costume changes in the cold! It's not all glamour!
I had a funny moment (although not at the time) in a scene with Karen in which I had to drive a car down the street and park it by the curb. Seems simple enough. Karen played a character who was a new bride, and in real life, she was going to get married...I think in a matter of days. And she was in the car alongside me. After many takes, Atul said to me "Goldy, can you just...you know...drive". But I was so acutely trepidatious.
All I kept thinking was "if something goes wrong, she'll miss her wedding and it'll be my fault, and everyone will hate me." So yes, we had too many takes and a somewhat frustrated director before I finally...just...drove. Karen and Laura are wonderful to watch in the film. And my driving wasn't too bad either.
- During your career, we have seen you move between TV and film projects, so how do the two mediums compare/ differ? Is film where you want to be or do you like moving between the two?
I like both but for different reasons. TV is generally quicker. Rez once gave me advice regarding telly jobs and that they often shoot the rehearsal and then move on. Well he was right as it happened once in a series I did last year.
The pace can be frenetic but it requires you to think quickly and make choices from the gut. Whereby with film, it can be a bit "hurry up and wait". And when you do finally get to shoot, it can be a plethora of takes.
When I filmed Sex and the City 2, I had to say the same line for what seemed like 100 takes and at one point my mouth just went numb, as if I'd been injected with a localised anaesthetic and I...just...couldn't...get the line out.
- You kicked off your career in the theatre, so how was the transition from stage to screen? Would you go back to the stage?
My training was in stage and it's my stomping ground. It's tribal and dynamic and also terrifying. You can't have another take if a line is lost but you can fix something that didn't work the following night. Both mediums require truth but film demands it. With film, I had to learn to squeeze out the marrow, pluck the nucleus, and keep the eyes alive.
And yes, I'd always go back to stage. In fact, I just finished touring a play called Happy Birthday Sunita (Rifco Arts) across UK, Dubai and India. It was a sell-out success, and starred legendary screen actress Shabana Azmi, who also played my mother in the film It's a Wonderful Afterlife.
- Red River is another project that you have in the pipeline - can you tell me about that?
It's about a young British Asian mother named Madhuri (who was a child bride) and is now grooming her daughter to marry a man much older than her. I had an immediate liking to the director Emma Lindley, who also wrote and produced the film.
The story doesn't demonise the mother but also doesn't condone something which is alarmingly prevalent in the UK. The Forced Marriage Unit recently reported 1,300 cases with one in eight below the age of consent. These are only the reported cases so the problem is possibly on an even greater scale.
- I suppose it is quite a controversial topic as you play a child bride who is grooming her own daughter for child marriage. How have you been preparing or are about to prepare for that role?
I read and watched everything I could and listened to anyone who would speak. Although I like extremities, our story lies in a space in between and I think some of the ambiguity allows for more of a discussion of the whys. So instead of playing a bunch of baddies, we all tried to find another space in telling the story.
I also researched charities dealing with and campaigning for victims of forced marriage such as Girls Not Brides, Karma Nirvana and Freedom. I strongly advocate going to those controversial corners, leaping beyond the demarcation points. It's usually in those unchartered areas that we find hidden truths.
- Finally, what's next for you going through 2015?
Some charitable work...hopefully. Shabana Amzi (a former MP in India) recently took me to the Women's Parliament in Delhi. It was organised by Action Aid India and I felt so humbled and galvanised by the women who "dared" to speak.
And...on a lighter note, they have swing dance classes in my area and I keep walking past thinking "this year. I'll definitely swing this year". So watch this Goldy Hop!