IN CONVERSATION WITH NATALIE BURN
Natalie Burn produced and stars in the new indie film ‘Til Death Do Us Part’, which will hit theatres nationwide on 4th August. Aside from her work on-camera, Natalie is also active behind the scenes as a producer with her company ‘Born to Burn Films’.
Natalie, we’ll be seeing you in the action packed indie film ‘Til Death Do Us Part’. Tell us more about this film and its story.
In the enchanting confines of a quaint church, the stage is set for what initially seems like a typical romantic comedy or drama. But, in a sudden twist of fate, the bride makes a daring escape from her own wedding, setting off a chain reaction that unravels a dark and hidden side of her life. Unbeknownst to her, she becomes the target of seven vengeful and merciless killer groomsmen, each driven by their own sinister motivations. She must confront these relentless assailants, fighting for her very survival in a deadly game that puts her courage and resourcefulness to the ultimate test.
As the intense story unfolds, a secondary plot emerges, shedding light on the bride’s deep-rooted reasons for fleeing from the altar and the burdens that have weighed heavily on her for years. This subplot weaves seamlessly with the main narrative, unraveling a captivating tale that captivates the audience, piecing together the puzzle of her life and the choices she has made. The narrative deftly shifts between the enthralling subplots, creating a gripping journey that culminates in a mesmerizing revelation. The interplay of these two storylines adds depth and richness to the overall plot, making ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ a truly compelling and thought-provoking tale.
Prepare to be engrossed in this riveting blend of romance, suspense, comedy, horror and action as the bride’s destiny hangs in the balance and the truth behind her flight from the wedding altar is finally unveiled. ‘Til Death Do Us Part’ will leave you breathless until the very end, where the pieces of the intricate puzzle fall perfectly into place, leaving the audience with an unforgettable and profoundly satisfying conclusion.
In the film, you portray a runaway bride who ends up having to fight off angry groomsmen to survive. How fun and exciting was it portraying this character?
Portraying a runaway bride in the midst of a life-and-death struggle with furious groomsmen was an absolute blast. The adventure began with the unique challenge of maneuvering in a wedding dress, adding a layer of complexity to the whole experience. As if that wasn’t enough, I had to confront and combat seven distinct personalities among the groomsmen. And to add to the excitement, I did it all while being barefoot throughout the entire movie. It was an exhilarating journey that kept me on my toes, both literally and figuratively.
The camaraderie on set made this adventure all the more enjoyable. Working with each and every cast member was an absolute pleasure, their talent shining through in every scene. The entire crew made the process easy and seamless and the Director of photography’s Pablo Diez’s mastery of light and shot composition turned each frame into a captivating work of art. Speaking of the director, Timothy Woodward Jr. displayed remarkable skill in storytelling and guiding us through the film’s rollercoaster of emotions. With his guidance, every actor felt secure, knowing that this film was in the hands of a true visionary. Looking back, this was undoubtedly the most unforgettable experience I’ve ever had while filming a movie. The challenges, the teamwork and the passion poured into this project have left an indelible mark on my heart, forever cherishing this incredible journey of cinematic adventure.
Which was your favorite scene to film and why?
I had an absolute blast acting in all the scenes of this movie. It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but there’s a particular scene that truly stood out for me. It was the intense exchange between the best man and the bride. What made it so remarkable was not only the challenge it presented, but also how impressively it was shot, almost like a play. During the filming of this scene, we faced the typical constraints of an indie production, limited time and resources.
My co-star, Cam, and I had to deliver three and a half pages of dialogue while keeping the tension high throughout. On top of that, we had to include a knife and incorporate a fight sequence into the middle of the dialogue. Despite the pressure, I found the experience exhilarating. Being part of such a demanding scene pushed me to explore new aspects of my acting abilities and creativity. As an actor, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of rising to the challenge and delivering a compelling performance, even in the face of time constraints and added complexities. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment of working on this movie. However, this particular scene will always hold a special place in my heart as it pushed me to my limits and allowed me to shine in a way that I didn’t know I could. I’m grateful for the opportunity and can’t wait for audiences to see the final result.
Aside from your work on camera, you are also very active behind the scenes, as a producer. You have your own company ‘Born to Burn Films’. What inspired you to create your own production company? What kind of projects do you aspire to work on within the company?
In addition to my work on camera, I actively engage behind the scenes as a producer. I am the proud owner of two production companies, ‘Born to Burn Films’ and ‘7Heaven Productions’. The inspiration to establish these companies came from observing many other actors who have also ventured into producing. Icons like Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise serve as my role models, instilling in me the belief that anything is achievable and time is my only limit.
One valuable realization that dawned upon me is that to portray the roles I truly desire, I often have to take the initiative and create opportunities for myself. Hence, both of my companies are dedicated to crafting stories centered around robust characters, with a special focus on empowering and formidable women. It is my ardent desire to counter the exploitation of women, so I lead by example, crafting narratives that inspire women metaphorically. I believe that strong female characters in movies can serve as a source of motivation for women without resorting to any real violence. My mission as a producer is to tell compelling stories and challenge societal norms through the medium of film. By doing so, I hope to foster a more inclusive and equitable entertainment industry that celebrates the strength and potential of all individuals.
Before acting, you were a professional ballerina. How would you describe ballet in your own words? What made it your first love?
Ballet has been the foundation of everything I embody today, from determination and willpower to endurance. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my mother for introducing me to ballet at a very young age. It was this early exposure that shaped my personality. My mother’s influence allowed me to grasp the harsh realities of competition from an early age and I appreciate her for that. Yet, alongside the brutal aspects of life, ballet instilled in me a sense of grace, class and various other qualities, not to mention the flexibility and profound understanding of my body. These traits have proven invaluable, even as I transitioned into onscreen fighting. Without a doubt, ballet will always hold a special place in my heart as my first and everlasting love.
How did you go from ballet to acting?
I will forever be a ballerina, the passion for dance has always been ingrained in me. However, fate had a surprise in store for me and my journey took an unexpected turn. From the tender age of 3, I dreamt of a lifelong ballet career. Yet, the demanding training that comes with being a professional athlete eventually took a toll on my body, leading to injuries, one after the other. As I struggled to recover from these setbacks, I realized it was time to explore other avenues. Acting crossed my path serendipitously when my mom stumbled upon a newspaper in the London Tube. The headline caught my eye, announcing auditions for the esteemed American Academy of Dramatic Arts School in Los Angeles. To me, it felt like a sign from a higher power. Eagerly, I implored my mom to help me find an acting coach and prepared two monologues.
To our astonishment, the principal personally informed my mom of my acceptance into the school. This marked the beginning of a new chapter. I ventured to LA for the summer to test my acting prowess and I fell in love with the craft. It became clear that I had to pursue this newfound passion. After my feet had sufficiently healed, nearly a year later, I secured a spot at the renowned Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute in Hollywood. I made the move, ready to immerse myself in the world of acting. While I may have transitioned from being a full-time ballerina, the fire in my heart for dance still burns and my journey as an actress has just begun.
You were born in Kyiv and grew up in London and Moscow before moving to LA. How would you say your growing up shaped your life and you as a person?
Being born in Kyiv, spending four years in Moscow and my entire teenage years in London greatly contributed to my ability to respect and understand people from diverse walks of life. I had the opportunity to immerse myself in various cultures, upbringings and witness people facing different challenges from abundance to scarcity, including those struggling to put food on the table. These early travels instilled a profound sense of gratitude within me and fostered a genuine appreciation for each person’s unique story. No matter our differences, at the core we are all human beings with similar hopes and dreams, only varying in the opportunities life presents us.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles, I realized it was a melting pot of cultures, comprising people from all corners of the world. It was an enriching experience for my cultural education. Unlike my initial feeling of being an outsider when I moved to London and when I was accepted into The Royal Ballet School, LA’s cultural diversity helped me adapt more seamlessly. Although the city brought its own set of challenges, one thing became evident. Living in LA required a thick skin to handle everything it had to offer.
You also speak an impressive five languages, English, Spanish, French, Italian and Russian. How important do you believe is it to know many different languages in today’s world?
I am proficient in English, French and Russian, and have some knowledge of Italian and Spanish. In today’s interconnected world, I strongly believe that knowing multiple languages is of paramount importance. The world has become incredibly diverse and intellectually enriched, making communication easier and more effective across cultures. Moreover, my language skills have proven invaluable in portraying diverse characters from various countries in movies. I actually wish I could speak more languages.
We’ve been witnessing the horrific stories from Ukraine for very long now. How has the crisis in your country affected you personally?
The distressing events unfolding in Ukraine have left a profound impact on all of us and it personally affects me deeply. For those of us with connections to the country, whether through family ties or past residence, we understand the immense beauty and cultural richness Ukraine holds. It’s heartbreaking to witness what is happening to this once vibrant place. The architecture in Kyiv in particular is awe-inspiring, with its amazing fountains and streets adorned by remarkable cultural buildings. Ukraine as a whole is a truly beautiful country, making it even more devastating to see it engulfed in crisis. My concern for my remaining family, especially my grandmother who still lives there, grows every day. The fear of something dreadful happening to her and other family members is constant. My grandmother’s calls have become a lifeline, providing some reassurance when she shares her experiences of sirens blaring every night, forcing her to seek shelter in the bunker of her building.
What saddens me most is that my grandmother is very old and struggling to walk, so she finds it incredibly challenging to go downstairs to the shelter. Despite the risks, she is resolute about staying in her homeland, reflecting her strength and determination having endured World War 2 and now facing this war as well. In the face of this ongoing crisis, the emotional toll on all those connected to Ukraine is immeasurable. We can only hope for a resolution that brings peace and safety to its people, allowing them to cherish the beauty of their country without fear and uncertainty.
You are very vocal about wanting the women, especially those who have fled Ukraine, to feel empowered to live a life they deserve. What would be your advice or words of wisdom to them?
I find it incredibly brave and inspiring to see those who have fled Ukraine seeking a better life. It is vital to empower these women to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead, allowing them to create the lives they truly deserve. My advice and words of wisdom to them are to embrace change wholeheartedly and be open to the countless new possibilities that await. This journey may be tough and filled with sadness, but amidst the challenges, there are hidden blessings waiting to be discovered. The key is to remain eager to learn and grow, no matter the circumstances, as the world continues to evolve rapidly. By welcoming new experiences, they open doors to exciting opportunities that may even exceed their wildest imaginations. A significant aspect of this journey is the pursuit of learning the English language as it can become a bridge that breaks down barriers and enables them to navigate through life with more confidence and ease.
interview by JANA LETONJA @janaletonja
photography Serge Guerand