Sue Parker-Nutley – (Tortoise In Love – 2012).

I recently got the chance to talk to Sue Parker-Nutley about her role in ‘Tortoise In Love’. Here, Sue talks about how she got involved in the project in the first place and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…

Hey Sue. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Tortoise In Love’.

What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?

The plotline for ‘Tortoise In Love’ is Tom, the gardener at the Big House falls for Anya, the new au pair for Harry. Tom is a slow mover, hence “Tortoise” in love. The entire village gets behind him to assist the romance. Tom’s advisor is young Harry, who also has a dream to see the Red Arrows. Both dreams seem impossible, but anything can happen.

Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…

I play Janet Hardcastle, who is the housekeeper at the Big House, and rules it with a rod of iron. Married to Bob whom she also rules with a rod of iron! However, she definitely has a soft spot for Spud, one of the locals.

How did you get involved in the project in the first place?

The casting was posted on Casting Call Pro, a site for professional actors.  I actually applied for the part of the barmaid and was auditioned for that part by Guy Browning (writer/director) and Steffan Aquarone (producer). I had learned the lines and was asked by Guy to deliver those lines in eight different ways! About 3 weeks later, I was offered  the part of Janet – a much meatier part than the barmaid!

How would you say this film is different and unique?

This film is unique in that it has been written, directed, located in and, in the most part, produced by residents of Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor, a village in Oxfordshire where it was filmed. Villagers gave up rooms in their houses to accommodate the professional actors involved, the local WI catered our breakfasts and lunches, and the local pubs catered our dinners. Villagers also undertook production and crew roles.

The film stars Tom Mitchelson, Alice Zawadzki, Tom Yates, Mike Kemp, Steven Elder, Duncan Armitage, Des Brittain and your good self – with Guy Browning onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?

The cast and crew were all an absolute joy to work with. The film was shot over a 7 week period, and I travelled back and forth to Kingston Bagpuize with Southmoor from Biggin Hill in Kent, 4 or 5 times during that period, staying for 2 or 3 days at a time, when required for my scenes. During that time, the entire crew and cast met at the local pub for dinner and had a wonderful camaraderie. There were no stars in this film – everyone was a member of a team, wishing for the best possible result from our efforts.

One surprise for me was when I learnt the cast list. Des Brittain, who plays Spud (the guy for whom my character has a soft spot), played my husband in another feature film ‘The Flirting Club’ (out on DVD). In our business, it was more than a coincidence!

Let’s talk a bit about you Sue. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?

I have acted for the last 25 years, but 20 of them have been in community theatre. My day job was that of an administrator and in 2007 I was made redundant. It was a chance to “go professional” as an actress; something I really wanted to do; and would have kicked myself had I not tried! So, that’s what I did!

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?

My advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in our industry is to grow at least three more skins – you really have to be ready to be knocked back all the time. For the 20 jobs you apply for, you might get one audition. For 30 auditions you are invited to, you might get one job. Do not be disheartened, it is not personal. It’s just that you are not quite what the director requires. Keep at it – apply for everything you can. And, learn something at every audition and every job. Listen to what the director, DOP, 1st AD – whoever – is saying, and take it on board.

If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

  • The first guest I would have at my dinner table would be Stephen Fry. A superb raconteur, supremely intelligent and likeable man.
  • The second would be Michael Caine – a wonderful actor, with many stories to tell, and I believe he would be down to earth.
  • Thirdly, Julie Walters – who is my idol where acting is concerned. To be able to be a young woman or an old bag convincingly is a wonderful talent. I am sure Julie would teach me so much.

On your off-days, how do you like to kick back and relax?

When I am “resting” I enjoy collecting.  I have a house like a museum – it’s been on ‘May The Best House Win’.  I have themed rooms – my bathroom is Egyptian and has a six-foot sarcophagus next to the shower!  I also like gardening – my garden is similarly bizarre, having a temporary bus stop, barrels, and lots of bits of rusty metal!

What’s coming up for you in 2012?

2012 – An exciting project at the end of October/beginning November. A group of talented actors/actresses under the direction of a very good director, intend to make three feature films in one week.

I continue to appear as Sybil Fawlty in ‘A Slice of Fawlty Towers’ – (touring). I have just completed a Mike Leigh-style workshop which culminated in a short film. This film will be entered at festivals. I am hoping that, with the release of ‘Tortoise In Love’, more work will come my way.

Thanks for the interview!

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