Nathaniel Parker has had an extensive career spanning the stage, screen and radio. He has performed in big films such as The Bodyguard, Beverly Hills Ninja and Stardust. On TV Nathaniel is known for his role as Thomas Lynley in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries and has also featured in Merlin, Land Girls, My Family and countless other shows!
Nathaniel also has a prolific stage career. He is an Actor within the Royal Shakespeare Company and recently played the role of Gordon Brown alongside Dame Helen Mirren in the sell out production The Audience.
Nathaniel can currently be heard as the voice of Macbeth in the innovative new production at the Little Angel Theatre. I was lucky enough to catch up with Nathaniel after a performance of Macbeth, which also showcases the fantastic voice of Helen McCrory as Lady Macbeth (click here to read our review.) We had a hearty chat about his role in the show as well as what it was like acting with Dame Helen back in the summer. Check out what Nathaniel had to say below:
So Nathaniel, you have had an extensive acting career both as an onstage performer and a voice over artist – can you tell me a bit about how voicing a character is different to performing it live on stage?
Good Question! I guess one of things is that you as an actor can be anybody! As I was not onstage, it was my voice, you could not make any visual interpretations about me. People don’t judge the role as my Macbeth, there are no preconceptions about my previous career. People can just listen to the words and let the puppets create the action.
What lead to your involvement with Macbeth?
I don’t know actually! They had experimented with actors on stage with the puppets and the puppeteers were voicing the witches in a bird like manner. They then thought, let’s do them all as birds and have the text recorded as it is just too difficult to have performers there speaking it live. They then thought “let’s get some actors in!” and Helen and I were very lucky to be asked! We had both played the parts in the flesh before but many years ago…and not as birds!
How closely did you work with the puppeteers?
We only had one day when we watched an early version of what they were going to do. The puppeteers had already spent quite some time working out their movements onstage; they had to figure out how to get from A to B quickly. We watched what they had and then we did our own voice rehearsal and recorded the next day. The puppeteers then had to work with our recording. The end result worked brilliantly. The concentration they had and the inflections they bought to the characters were fantastic. There is a moment in the show with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in their bedroom and he touches her hand. It is absolutely electrifying.
How closely did you work with the other voice over artists?
We were all recording together in the same room. The director did a spectacular job of getting us all to work together! I’d also never worked with Helen before, although I’d met her many times. I thought she was amazing! Her voice was brilliant!
Did you have any input into the character creation?
My only real directorial input was when Macbeth was about to go and kill Duncan and I said why not, since he is a bird, let him hover off the ground. He’s a bird, he can do that!
What do you think makes this interpretation of Macbeth such a stand out piece?
I think it’s the way it has been honed down. They have taken McDuff’s speech of “my little chicks all gone”, a scene which is often cut quite mercilessly, and what they did was highlight all the bird imagery throughout the text. By doing this, they couldn’t have brought it more to life if they had tried! Also the varying birds on stage; Duncan as a Swan was a brilliant idea! A majestic swan with his goslings…it couldn’t have been better! I would never have thought of that. The best bit for me is the Cock Fight at the end! The whole thing was really quite shocking! The violence with the birds, just pecking each other…it was brutal.
You recently performed the role of Gordon Brown in the Audience – what was it like working alongside Dame Helen Mirren?
Well! She is a Dame! She has an enormous amount of charisma onstage and I often found myself just watching her! I was sometimes slightly late on my queue because I was just in awe! She was great. It is
a frustrating play to do in many ways as it is so clever. You only get about fifteen minutes with each Prime Minister. Playing Gordon was so great for me, especially as most people wouldn’t imagine me cast as Gordon! I know people who know both me and him very well and they would never of guessed that that was the role I was playing.
You were in the street with Helen when she confronted the noisy crowd…
Well yes – quite right of her too! It was starting to get noisy at the end of our scene and in the next scene they could hardly hear themselves on stage. When Helen went charging out on the street [dressed as the Queen] I though I had better follow! I thought “uh oh, this could be trouble!” There were a couple of hundred people there and only one who really took offence. People in the theatre had paid thousands of pounds and it is a very intimate play! They didn’t mind, they moved on. It was all very fun! She was like a one woman publicity machine!
Any chance of the production being reprised?
I think they will probably be keen to do it on Broadway…
Interesting! And next year will be busy for you at the RSC?
Yes! I am playing Henry VIII in Wolf Hall. It’s the same producing team of The Audience. They thought “Oh we have got hold of him now, let’s wring him dry!” [laughs].
Final question can you draw any comparisons between Gordon Brown and Macbeth?
[Laughs] Oh that’s a mean question! No! Well they are both very ambitious people. I think Gordon will go down in history as one of the brightest Prime Minister’s we have ever had. He had a really clever mind. I don’t think Macbeth could think more than five minutes ahead of his current situation! So the ambition is about where it finishes! I have huge respect for Gordon, but Macbeth…hm…not so much!
Thank you so much!
You can catch Nathaniel’s voice in Macbeth until the 10th November at the Little Angel Theatre and in as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall at The Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon from December 2013 – March 2014.