BlackBook Interview: Natalie Walker’s Twitter Auditions Are Required Viewing

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Photography: Alex Schaefer

 

If you’re not following Natalie Walker’s Twitter movie audition videos, are you even on Twitter?

The actress and writer has blown up online for her mock auditions cleverly critiquing the lack of interesting roles for women in big budget films, while still getting to show off her impressive chops as a character actor, with performances like:

 

and…

 

Fresh off her exciting tales with the most talented high school actors in the country, we caught up with Walker about her thoughts on the film industry and how she’d create a blockbuster film with real grit. Read on.

 

How’d these videos come to be?

Voracious media consumption – I have just seen so many movies now that these tropes are all bouncing around in my head…combined with profound malaise. I’d get asked to do table reads of scripts and the call would be “Natalie, I am putting together a table read and there’s a part that’s PERFECT for you, so so funny!” – but then the role would be “crazy girl who wants to fuck the male lead so bad it’s comical.” And then I would go to some miserable audition where they didn’t like the way I dressed or said my face was too animated or something and at a certain point, I just felt like, Jesus Christ, I think I am good and all the gatekeepers are saying no, but maybe the gatekeepers are bad because I have seen some of the gatekeepers’ things and I do not like the stuff they are keeping behind those gates. The videos then killed two birds with one stone in that I got to share gripes about movies in a way that felt more productive than bellowing “I HATE THIS THING” into the Twitter void, and I got to act.

Do you have any other video ideas that have not been made yet that you can share?

Oh, absolutely, and then maybe this will get the men who routinely tweet me trope requests – despite paying me neither in money nor opportunities for career advancement – off my back for awhile, knowing I already have some on deck. I have the dead wife who exists in dreamy Vaseline-lens flashback, to show us why our hero is sad and motivate him later on. I have a white lady solving racism in a girly way in a very feminist movie written by white men. I’ve got the love interest in a movie made for nerdboys who shows she is Not Just Any Love Interest because she eyerolls a lot and makes a sarcastic comment every now and then.

Favorite actors?

Charlize Theron. Angela Bassett. Parker Posey. Emily Blunt. Viola Davis. Julianne Moore. Sandra Oh. Margo Martindale. I am unfamiliar with male actors’ work, but I hear good things!

Dream scene partners?

I could probably Single White Female Aubrey Plaza in something; it is important to me that I kiss Oscar Isaac once before I die; and I would love it if Julia Louis-Dreyfus played my mom at some point.

Favorite films?

All About Eve. Pleasantville. Boogie Nights. Wet Hot American Summer. Get Out. Defending Your Life. Drop Dead Gorgeous. Carol. Pariah. Lady Bird. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. Marie Antoinette. Paddington 2. Pretty much any movie where the closing credits are set to “September” or “This Will Be.”

 

 

Favorite role you have already played onstage?

Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I did it just last year, and have not stopped thinking about it since. She’s the epitome of white feminism to me (e.g. won’t take any hard stances against racism or nationalism because she’d rather have a good time and be liked by everyone), so even though the production was set in period, it excited me to view her through that very post-2016 lens. Certainly found a few modern celebrities to draw inspiration from.

Upcoming projects?

My best friend/platonic husband Heath Saunders and I are doing a duo show at 54 Below at 9:30 on Friday, August 31st, which thrills me because he is so good at singing that I could truly abandon the stage and go to the bar across the street and people would say the show was tremendous. After that, a lot of writing here and there! And getting things in place for a show all of my very own in late autumn/early winter. People have told me to do a solo show forever, but I’ve been wary after years of being forced to attend mindnumbingly banal “and THAT’s what I’ve learned from MY time as an ACTOR in NEW YORK!” cabarets.

What initially made you want to be an actress?

My sister was born and stole all of the attention that had been rightfully mine before. I tried first to kill her – by asking to hold her and then slowly, methodically squeezing her to the point of suffocation while repeating “love the baby” – but was thwarted by our shared mother in a devastating betrayal. So then I got proactive about figuring out a different way to make everybody focus on me, and it turned out to be doing voices and recreating all the performances I saw my parents enjoy on TV.

 

 

Assemble your dream writer/ director/ cast/ plot theme for a blockbuster film you’re starring in.

Blockbuster is difficult because I am more into indies with at least one scene where a woman screams and cries behind the wheel of a parked car; but if the people want a blockbuster, here is my pitch: I am a grown-up Veruca Salt. I have spent years off the grid after a narrow escape from the Wonka Factory massacre and now I return to exact revenge on the people who wronged and punished me for being a young woman unafraid to voice my desires. I weaponize the factory against Charlie and Wonka. I shove cotton candy right into some guy’s eyeballs or something. Cars explode. I think somehow Lexi Alexander, Greta Gerwig, and Taika Waititi all join forces on the creative side of it, collaborating on the writing and directing and combining their aesthetics. Grown-up Charlie must be played by a sad sensitive boy with a punchable face, which I think Evan Peters does very well on Pose. Wonka, probably John C. Reilly, who still deserves an Oscar for Walk Hard. Oh, and as I set out on my journey I seek out and team up with fellow survivor Violet Beauregarde, and she’s played by Janelle Monae.

If you weren’t going to be an actor/writer, what would you be?

If I still have all the skills I have now, I think probably do ASMR videos on YouTube. To get monetized for rubbing sandpaper together and pretending to put makeup on someone? Phenomenal. However, if not being an actor/writer sets off a Butterfly Effect timeline, where I grow up being good at other things, then the sky is the limit! Maybe I have a driver’s license in that universe.

Important scenes/Broadway moment YouTube clips for rookies to watch?

ACTRESS ACTING ON FILM: Madeline Kahn in everything, but specifically “I’m Tired” from Blazing Saddles, for the moment when she goes to lazily place her hand on a part of the wall that is not there, so you get a sense of her laser precision.

 

Then you can watch her monologue from Paper Moon and marvel at the detailed beat work.

Then do the rightly universally beloved “flames” Clue moment because it was improvised when she forgot her exact line, so you can compare and contrast her extemporaneous brilliance with the carefully calculated performances you just watched.

“ACTRESS ACTING ON STAGE: “Alabama Song” from The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny as performed by Audra McDonald.
That little laugh after “we’ve LOST”? Coming down from the most unearthly gorgeous voice you have ever heard? Come on. She’s everything. That she is also wearing the exact same wig that the Mamma Mia universe leads us to believe Christine Baranski wore for 30 years is a bonus.