Exmouth-based actress Emma MacNab makes her screen debut as the enigmatic Lesath in classic ghost story The Moon Shines Bright. Due to premiere at the Cornwall Film Festival in November, D+CFilm caught up with her
Did you always want to be an actress, and if not, what did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be an actress from the age of four. I was asked to represent the reception class in my school by reading Baa Baa Black Sheep in the Christmas Service. I was so little that a Year 6 student had to pick me up so that I could reach the microphone! After that I was hooked on performing. I loved the feeling of standing on a stage and playing other people in other situations. Primary school plays were always my favourite time of the year, and once I was in secondary school I joined every drama group going. At one point I was in three, plus dance classes! From there my passion for acting just grew.
What attracted you to acting?
As I got older I knew that I wanted to train seriously. As far as I was concerned, there was never a question that I would go to drama school and train full time to be an actress. After experiencing how freeing and exhilarating entering into someone else’s psyche and life was, I knew there was no other job for me. Theatre had been my passion for so long that I knew I had to be a part of it myself.
What are your key strengths as an actress?
I’m only just starting out as an actor and still have so much to learn, but at the moment I feel most confident in the period of rehearsal, when I am exploring a character’s psyche. I love the process of getting deeper and deeper into the character and knowing all about them. I find that the more you know about a character’s past and how their mind works, the easier it is to play with her, and with other actors too. Being confident in the character you have built makes acting so much easier as you don’t have to worry about choosing the ‘wrong’ way of saying or doing anything.
What other acting work had you done prior to The Moon Shines Bright?
I only graduated this summer, but prior to The Moon Shines Bright I had just had my first professional job playing the title role in Strindberg’s Miss Julie. I was the understudy for the role and then performed as the lead for the final two performances. I learnt so much about acting during the rehearsal period for this play, and it was fun to put some of the things I had learnt into practice to play Lesath.
If you could play any role in any film, what would it be?
I would love to play a really juicy, full role, like Cate Blanchett’s role in Notes on a Scandal. Unfortunately though, most good female roles are for older women. Films like Calendar Girls for example, have lots of fantastic female roles, but you have to be the other side of 50 to play them! While you’re in your 20s you tend to either be cast as ‘the pretty girl’ or ‘girl next door’. Juno is probably the most recent film that has had a female character I have really wanted to play.
What attracted you to the role of Lesath?
The first thing that attracted me was the film itself. I loved the idea of filming on location of Dartmoor. The moors are so atmospheric that I knew they would make an amazing backdrop for any film. I also liked the idea of playing a character who was a bit ambiguous, even for the audience. Lesath just sounded like a lot of fun, your typical girl next door character who then turned out to be a lot more than anyone, especially Dr Tom Stukeley expected!
How did you find acting in your first film?
I’d been in student films before, but being in a professional film was so different. Everyone involved, cast and crew, were so professional and friendly and they all really helped guide me through the process. Even down to another actress, Tricia Stewart, giving me cream to de-puffify my eyes when we’d had only a few hours sleep before our shoot day.
Did you enjoy the experience of filming on Dartmoor?
I loved filming on Dartmoor for the views, but I could have done with a hot cup of coffee and jumper as part of my costume! Wearing a little dress and flats sounded like a brilliant idea during the read through on a hot evening in London. However, when it started raining, and we were having to do another take because of the noise of the wind, I did start getting quite jealous of Chris’s coat and walking boots!
Finally, what are your immediate future plans?
I am filming another film called Godforsaken this autumn and then I’m doing panto playing Jasmine in Aladdin on a UK tour between November and February. I’m hoping next year to do a bit more theatre and a few short films. I auditioned last week for another film being shot on the moors. I think The Moon Shines Bright has started a new trend!
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