Air Miles with Nathaniel Parker

1 Dec 2021 by Hannah Brandler
Nathaniel Parker copy

Nathaniel Parker is a screen and stage actor. He recently portrayed Sir Robert de Thibouville in Ridley Scott’s film The Last Duel, soon to be released on DVD and on-demand.

What attracted you to the profession of acting?

Until the age of nine I wanted to be all the things I had seen on film or TV: a cowboy (The Virginian), train driver (Casey Jones), Broadway star (Fred Astaire), an astronaut (the news) or a doctor (my mum). But then I realised there was a single job where I could be all those things.

Which movie/theatre production has left a lasting impression?

So many, but I think productions of Hilary Mantel’s novels about Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies, The Mirror and The Light) where I have been lucky enough to play Henry VIII were pretty ground-breaking for me. I met the director Jeremy Herrin and, put simply, he made me a better actor.

What locations have you filmed in?

All over the world, I have been exceedingly lucky. Through most of Europe, Jamaica, Los Angeles, New York, South Africa, Australia. Although my first film was in a disused hospital in Kent!

Which role has required the most extensive research?

Inspector Lynley in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries surprisingly took quite a lot of research – going around with the police and seeing how they work.

Gabriel Oak in Far From The Madding Crowd gave me the chance to shear sheep and thatch, which was very challenging.

What's your dream role?

I’m writing it now. Slowly, as I am a wee bit dyslexic.

Do you prefer film, TV or theatre?

That’s an impossible question. The technique is different for all, but the basic challenge is the same. Belief. If I don’t believe what I am doing, no one else will. Standing on a stage with a huge audience feels like what I was born to do, but the adrenaline is equally there for a short film shot on a shoestring or a big Hollywood blockbuster once you hear “action!”

What was it like filming during the pandemic?

Very expensive. I experienced it as an actor and as a producer. For the latter it added around 15-20 per cent to our budget with testing costs. As an actor the limitations are every day, and frustrating.

At the beginning of lockdown, I was shooting Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel and so I would be walking around set in my 1350s costume, hair and make-up while wearing a clear shield.

We are tested every day in the theatre. The chance to work again feels so precious that no one wants to blow it.

What would you do if you weren't an actor?

Outside this world of entertainment, probably something sports related. I’m a big rugby and horse-racing fan.

What has been your most rewarding travel experience?

Just about every time I have been on holiday with my family.

And most challenging?

It was for Into Thin Air: Death on Everest – a film about climbing Mount Everest. We actually shot it in the Alps. At nights the temperature reached -25 degrees celsius.

Taking my clothes off 13,000 feet up with a sheer drop of 3,000 feet just behind me, that was pretty challenging. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

What are your dream destinations?

I have never been to the remote Pacific Islands or South America. One day…

Where did you last travel to?

The Greek Island of Kea with my wife. It was just what the doctor ordered.

What's your favourite destination?

At the moment Puglia. As my wife is a Greece fan and I am an Italian fan, we feel it to be the perfect mixture.

What's your indispensable travel gadget?

Now, of course it’s a phone, but I’m a terrible sucker for gadgets. I can quite happily spend the first part of any journey reading the instructions for a new piece of kit I bought at the airport.

What's your in-flight entertainment pick?

Well, I don’t think there has ever been a movie I haven’t cried at on the plane. Even Lara Croft! Comedies are usually my choice on planes – I like to laugh and cry at the same time!

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