I recently got the chance to talk to Brittania Nicol about her role in ‘The Wicker Tree’. Here, Britannia talks about what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set and how she got into acting in the first place…
Hey Brittania. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘The Wicker Tree’…
For those who haven’t had chance to see the film yet, what’s the general plotline surrounding the film? I understand it’s a re-imagining of ‘The Wicker Man’?
The film is about two young Americans who are born again Christians going to Scotland to preach the gospel to the “Heathens”. They befriend a couple who basically run a small town and are invited to stay in their village and preach to their people. It all seems very innocent and friendly, but preaching isn’t all the Sir Lochlan and Lady Morrison have in store for the naïve pair of travellers. I wouldn’t say the film is a re-imaging but more of a sister film. The genre and theme are the same but the story is not.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play a girl named Beth Boothby from Texas who was a massive teen idol, think Britney Spears. She had a rather seedy adolescence, but has become a born again Christian. She’s engaged to a fellow God-fearing cowboy named Steve who she grew up with in Texas. The two of them are planning to be married, but before they do they are devoting a year of their lives to the missionary field. I found Beth to be very naïve but extremely sweet and with the best of intentions. She’s got spirit.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I was acting in a play that I also produced in Los Angeles when Kate Plantin (our beautiful casting director) came to see me. At that point the role of Beth Boothby had already been cast and Kate said it was a shame she’d only just seen me as I’d have been very right for the role. I kept in touch with her and when I moved to London a year later, I rang Kate and met her for lunch. It must have only been a few days later when she got a call saying they needed to re-cast because very shortly after I was in auditions for the part.
How would you say this film is different from it’s previous incarnation?
I think people’s perceptions are what make this film so different from its predecessor. Nobody knew what to expect with ‘The Wicker Man’ and now its gone down in history as a terrifying film. But I don’t think it was. I think it was just weird and creepy and I think this film is very much the same, but with a bit more humor.
The film stars Christopher Lee, Graham McTavish, Honeysuckle Weeks, Clive Russell, Keira McMillan and Henry Garrett, with Robin Hardy onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set?
Are you kidding? It was an amazing experience! I got to spend five weeks with some of the most fun and iconic people in England and Scotland. We were in the middle of nowhere, holed up on a beautiful estate with nothing to do but entertain each other and work. We had such a brilliant time and at the same time I learned more in five weeks than I ever could have imagined. Not many people get the opportunity to pick the minds of such experienced people and I made use of it!
Let’s talk a bit about you Brittania. What made you want to get into acting in the first place?
I wouldn’t survive in the normal nine to five world and acting is in my blood. My Aunt, Lesley Nicol, is an actress and so was my grandmother, Sue Nicol, who was in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and the first episode of ‘Coronation Street’. I came to London to see Lesley in ‘Mamma Mia’ when I was 15. I had planned on going to University and studying journalism or communications when I made the trip. After the show she said she wanted me to come on stage and feel the energy in the room right after the auditorium emptied. I’m not sure she realized it, but that moment changed my life. I went back to America and enrolled in Drama and Chorus straight away. I haven’t stopped chasing the dream since.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
I would say, unless you’re absolutely 100% positive that this is the path for you, don’t do it. It can be the meanest industry and it really cuts people down. If you’re not prepared to be scrutinized and criticized for everything from your acting to the way you walk or the shape of your nose, then you’re not going into the right business. If, however, you are one of those crazy people who can’t do anything else, then I would say work as hard as you can and don’t rely on anyone but yourself to get the work. Ask for help and get involved in any and everything. It’s a full-time job and you are your own business.
You’ve been in a number of TV series’ and short movies – who has been your favourite actor to work with so far and which has been your favourite project to be a part of?
My favourite actress and my favorite project go hand in hand. I produced a play, which I mentioned earlier, called ‘Daughters Of Heaven’ in Los Angeles with an actress named Amanda Jones. I met her in Drama school during my second year of training. Every time she worked I watched intently and when we finally were paired together in an exercise it was magical. On stage, she is my favourite person to work with. We have a serious chemistry and she doesn’t let me get away with any “untruths” in our work. The project is my favourite because it was the biggest achievements of my life and the story still fascinates me. And also because of everything that has come from it.
If you could have a dinner with three historical guests, living or dead – who would you choose and why?
I would invite Nelson Mandela, Barrack Obama, and Boudica. Mandela for his story, Obama for his future plans, and Boudica because she was a die-hard warrior queen. A woman who took on the Roman empire and would not accept defeat is a woman to be respected. I imagine it would be a very lively and enlightening dinner party.
What do you think is the most important invention of the last century?
The computer. Definitely.
What else is coming up for you in 2012?
Hopefully a job! I’m auditioning for anything and everything.
Thanks for the interview!