|Actress Natasha Halevi (Photo courtesy of N.H.)|
Phil Castor: First things first. Do you go by Tasha or do you prefer your full name Natasha?
Natasha Halevi: I go by Natasha on the set. My mom loved Natalie Wood and named me Natasha as a variation of that name. I like the idea of having a piece of her with me through my name, especially on set.
PC: So tell us about growing up in sunny Ventura, California. What's your family like?
NH: Growing up in Ventura is like growing up on a beach vacation. I love that town and it is my sanctuary. You can see the Channel Islands from most places in Ventura, including the house grew up in and there is something about staring at those islands that has always grounded me. I was raised by two aerospace engineers, aka rocket scientists...actual rocket scientists. So, my family is kind of a bunch of smarty-pants. We were raised around a lot of technology, but also, a totally grounded connection to nature, especially the ocean. My younger sister grew up to be a tech guru too - she's worked on a bunch of video game development and is a League of Legends nerd. I like to take credit, because I taught her to play Super Mario Bros. as a kid. (But it's really, of course, all her!)
PC: I read somewhere that you graduated from Davis University with a B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Dramatic Arts. Those are two totally polar opposite majors. What made you decide to pursue both studies?
NH: Totally. Polar. Opposites...but, I loved studying both. As it turns out, NONE of the classes overlap, so it was a lot of work to complete both. Davis has an amazingly talented plant biology department, and even though I did a pre-med track, I took as many plant biology classes as possible just for the sake of learning from geniuses I their field. I also obsessed over David Osleger's geology classes. (I am a rock climber, so love learning about geology) As much as I loved learning organic chemistry and calculus, the Theater Department was always home. It's still a part of my home - I keep a series of B&W photos of the UCD Theater Department on my wall.
PC: While at Davis you also worked at Yosemite National Park. What did you do there?
NH: I started climbing at the Rocknasium climbing gym when I was at Davis and I became immediately obsessed...I mean I spent my summers living out of my car, sleeping outside every night and literally climbed most waking hours. Yosemite is a Mecca for climbers, so it made sense to get a job there. All those plant biology classes were put to good use too, since I was a Park Ranger who gave daily walks though the Maripoa Grove of Giant Sequoias. I also told campfire stories to campers....hey, wait a minute, that's what Anaconda does!
PC: Sounds like life imitating art. So how did you get into acting? Was it something you fell into?
NH: I wish it was something I just fell into, that sounds a lot easier. I've worked at it for years. As you know, I studied Dramatic Arts in college and I truly continue to study everyday. Everyday I wake up and look forward to working as an actor, whether that means going to set or spending time working on my craft at home. I put in the work everyday and it's a joy!
PC: You've appeared in several outstanding short films. What do you love about acing in them?
|Halevi as Anconda in B.C. BUTCHER (Photo courtesy of N.H.)|
PC: What are some of your favorite film genres? Do you have any actresses and films that you draw inspiration from?
NH: I love an epic drama. Some of the most epic stories of our day are actually on TV. The work that Matt Weiner has done over the years is amazing - Mad Men is such a beautifully complex drama. There is such subtlety and so much meaning in every moment. I’m really into Krysten Ritter right now. It’s really fun to see her go from her comedic role in “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23” to a very dark role in “Jessica Jones”. I also really like watching the career of Constance Zimmer – she’s been working a long time, but she seems so fresh in every new role she’s taken on recently – it’s really inspiring. Both those ladies have recently been added to the Marvel Universe, so might I actually be a Marvel nerd?
PC: So tell us how you meet Bowling Kansas and what made you decide to be in her film? What attracted to you to the project?
NH: I met Kansas in the audition room and I knew immediately that I wanted to work with her. It took a whole of maybe 3 seconds to realize that Kansas was a strong force and a woman who had the cajones to make her vision happen. I got what she was going for with Anaconda and I knew it would be a lot of fun. It was easy to say yes to Kansas because I loved what she was planning to make happen, and I knew that she would actually make it happen.
PC: How would you describe your character Anaconda? Did Bowling allow you to improvise on set?
NH: Anaconda is aptly named – she’s a snake and is a little sneaky in trying to get her way. She is the “second in command” of the female cave clan and is always somewhat undermining her best friend and cave clan leader, Neandra. It's a classic tale of most popular girl and her bff.
PC: There's been a lot of debate with shooting movies on film like Kansas did and shooting digitally? Do you have an opinion on this topic?
NH: There’s something special about working on film and hearing “roll out." It felt like being in a romanticized version of old Hollywood. After we shot, Kansas invited us to see the raw footage in a small theater at FotoKem where the film was processed. I was blown away by how beautiful everything looked raw. It’s a dreamy medium and I hope I get to work on film again.
NH: I just finished up a feature film called 'Toby Goes to Camp.' I’m Bella and have a wild animal refuge where Toby lives. Toby is a tiger, a real tiger! Most anytime I was on set there was also a tiger on set, which was pretty exciting. It was a lot of fun to work with a tiger and the amazing trainers. We actually shot some of the camp scenes on location at a camp in the hills not far from where we shot B.C. BUTCHER.
PC: What are your future plans? Will stay in the film industry or will you go into the world of biology?
NH: I’ve never thought, "oh, if only I could go back and go to med school or why didn't I become a field biologist." I'm excited about the work I do as an actor every day. Acting is my passion and my career and I'm lucky to have them both together.
PC: What advice would you give to all aspiring and upcoming female talents who want to break into the film industry, especially those who wish to bring diversity and a feminine voice to the overpopulated male dominated Hollywood?
NH: There are so many things you need to “do”, BUT, the most important thing you can do for your career is to know your own self worth – regardless of gender, race, education, height, weight, or whatever other metric you (and the industry) might let get in your way. Keep that internal fire lit through whatever it is you do – exercise, meditation, journaling. Keep the external support strong by surrounding yourself with people who think you’re worthy – let go of people who tell you to put your dreams on a shelf or are jealous you are following your dreams. Especially let go of people who pretend to be supportive but undercut you. (Those are the people who congratulate you, but with a dig about how small the project is or something.) Take in the people who love you for who you are, believe you have a voice in this world, and whom you also love in the same way. To put it short, believe in yourself and allow others to believe in you too.
To learn more about Natasha Halevi, visit her IMDb page and be sure to check out her Twitter and Instagram accounts. To learn more about Troma and their upcoming release of B.C. BUTCHER, visit their website at www.troma.com.
Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!