Flatland Interview – Nicole Fortuin

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With an already established career trajectory, the serendipitous Nicole Fortuin is certainly a humble, lovely person with blazing talent. Believing so much in the film Flatland, Nicole waited two years until delayed production began and it was worth the wait.

In conversation from her home in South Africa, Nicole exhumes passion for the industry and even showed me some glorious art.

Was becoming an actor always something, you were going to do.
NFas a dancer I always enjoyed performing I don’t know why but it wasn’t until I was about eighteen, I got the acting urge.

I was either going to be a professional dancer or go to art-school. Suddenly I thought, well…….

I’ve always been interested in people having had this crazy idea of getting to know as many people as possible. I discovered acting, not exactly the easiest way, but an excuse to get to know many people personally over the span of your career.

Where did you study.
NFdrama school at the University of Cape town. Deciding to become an actor so late was extremely helpful because at University I was a sponge as everyone had been in plays before knowing various aspects of acting. I took it all in studying for four years and have been constantly working, I’m very happy.

You also sing in A Cinderella Story (2016).
NFI do a bit yes, I also once played a doctor who sings (laughs).

Did you audition for the seriously dramatic role of, Natalie
NFyes one audition with Jenna (Director Jenna Cato Bass) it was super challenging because she doesn’t always say much and I wanted to map it out for myself.

Natalie is a rewarding character for an actor, a learning experience.

Much of the film is in Afrikaans, is that a dialect you often speak or mostly English.
NFI mostly speak English, my parents speak Afrikaans so I when I speak with them it’s Afrikaans, I respect and enjoy conversing in it.

Related Post: Film Review – Flatland (2019)

On Flatland, what techniques did you use to get into Natalies mind.
There’re some harsh things happening.
NFdefinitely. I read the story relating to a lot of her journey into womanhood in terms of some similarities. I also knew, De Klerk Oelofes (actor who plays, Bakkies) we are friends and we talked extensively about the relationship or circumstances. Jenna, was open to being collaborative on input making it helpful and encouraging in our creative space. I remember when getting the role we had to postpone shooting twice.

That makes things difficult Nicole.
NFmy agents were not happy because they were saying; this is a little independent film you keep getting cancelled on, will it ever happen? I was invested in Flatland, as something I wanted to do.
I also have a very close family member who shared a lot of the actual experiences which helped my understanding a bit more.

Do you have a love of horses or riding like you do as Natalie.
NFnot before the film. I decided start training and getting to know horses especially the one I would be within those scenes. It became an emotional, beautiful experience on a personal level. We had three horses however in the close, emotive scenes there was one specific horse. I always say she was my favourite co-star to-date. They are fascinating, different to anything else, you feel so completely vulnerable but at the same time, be in control, dictate the movement. I’ve been horse-riding since, it’s simply enjoyable.

Tell me a little about South African film industry, are there many movies being made, or projects for audition opportunities.
NFeverything has been affected by Covid for sure, but there has been constant work for me finding interesting projects or be passionate about things I do. I’ve managed to play characters far from my comfort zone and as we are developing still as an industry there are experiments that are happening as well. Unique things with filmmakers taking risks, a lot of those risks don’t pay off. It’s still special as an actor to tap into that.

It seemed Flatland, was natural locations, no sets and a real truck.
NFI’m trying to think, don’t think we had any sets. Yes, an actual truck which was helpful like you asked about what techniques I used, well everything was real, the landscapes were vast and magical. Transported connectivity of the character to the place.

Such great work, you were convincingly sad, living a hard life.
NFthank you Shane. Natalie stayed with me for quite a while because she was so quiet. On stage a few years back, I played Carol in Oleanna (David Mamet play) and Carol never stops talking (laughs) it was natural to get out of that character as I don’t talk much anyway (laughs). This was polar opposite in Flatland, having to reside so closely to me getting into deep emotions with silence.

Knowing I was playing Natalie for two years; she was inside me.

Such beautifully wild curly flowing hair too.
NFyes (laughs) I do love transforming as much as possible.
When Jenna asked, would you do your hair like that; immediately I absolutely agreed to bleach my hair orange, exciting.

Who is an actor you haven’t worked with but hope to.
NFMeryl Streep , an obvious choice (laughs) Adam Driver is a wonderful actor & Daniel Kaluuya, I’m hoping anything is possible.

Outside of acting do you play cricket, go surfing or other interests.
NFclimbing mountains. Painting. Taking a lot of photos.

Maybe you will have your own exhibition in a gallery someday.

Nicole reaches behind to a large painting sharing with me a striking example of her art. I felt privileged, made my day Why should people choose Flatland, to watch.
NF – you can tell me if I’m being bias, but I can honestly say this film is like nothing you have ever seen before. I certainly know people say that often, it’s quirky, spontaneous, emotive and emotionally realistic. If viewers are open to that, the movie is rewarding.

Flatland is available now on Digital Download.

You can follow Shane A.Bassett @movie_analyst on Twitter

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