What about the hardest scene you've had to do so far?
None of my scenes are very hard. I mean I don’t find them very hard. Maybe it’s because I understand everything. I think when you don’t understand something it’s quite hard, otherwise you can’t understand why you’ve got to do it, you can’t work out what all that's about - 'Why did I say that?' Nothing has been hard, I’ve had quite a laugh to be honest!
What do you have coming up?
Bits of TV stuff I did last year, Wuthering Heights is coming out, a different film called Jump, I’m doing this, another short film, not sure when that’s coming out. And then lots of things that are lined up. Lots of auditions in-between. But yes, some very exciting things coming up.
Kaya is in Wuthering Heights as well...
She is, yeah. She is Cathy and I’m Isabella. And so when we first met, it was quite a different job. The characters, although they’re friends, they kind of have this awkwardness, I think, that is created because of both of their relationships with Heathcliff, played by James Howson, a complete first-time actor, but really brilliant.
Have you seen Andrea Arnold’s film Fish Tank? Do you like it?
Yeah, I did. But even just meeting Andrea, you know she’s got reasons for everything. She understands everything completely. She chose a lot of the actors because she said that they had naturally what she thought the characters should be like. She’s very nice because I don’t think I’m naturally all airs and graces. I could be if I wanted to, which is quite nice that she’s seen that. So yeah, she took a chance on that.
Do you know what she'd seen you in, to cast you in that?
Well, she said she‘d not seen anything of mine - I’m not sure if it’s true or not - but the casting director may well have put me in touch with her. And in the first meeting it was just a general chat, and she said I want you to come back and she brought me back with the guy who played my brother, who is very well-spoken and as soon as I saw him I was like, 'Wow', because there was still no real idea who the actors were going to be at that time, because she didn’t want a clear definition of class in terms of characters. She didn’t want Isabella to be very posh and Heathcliff and everyone be really down-and-out because she didn’t think it very realistic. They’re all from a similar place, they’re all from up North and how realistic would it be that those class differences were defined in those times. So he’s very posh and I was posh-northern at that point. And then we found she wanted RP and then posh northern again and that’s what it ended up being.
How do you find accents? Easy or fun?
Quite fun, you get voice coaches most of the time, so it was just playing around. But once you know an accent, you can just make it your voice or what’s natural to them. So it’s not ‘Nichola’ speaking RP, it’s just someone else and that’s how they are and it’s quite easy then because you can disguise whatever you say or whatever you do. It’s just a different person so again, you get away with it.
You did Cockney for this? Can we have a little burst of Cockney?
[Cockney accent] Like, shut up, who you talkin' to? Really? Yeah. She’s a little ghetto-chick. This character has a lot of ‘attitude’, which helps! Not that Londoners have attitude but this character does!
Did you base it on anybody?
(laughs) I didn’t, but they wanted me to. I didn't base it on one particular person but for the accent, the voice coach got told to pick Tulisa from N-Dubz, but I wouldn’t say I based my character on Tulisa! I wouldn’t even want to disrespect her like that. I think, the character of Andrea, you see her everywhere, I think you see her in a lot of people, of different ages but I get to play someone who’s 17. I just get to look back at the young girls, see what they do. When you’re out and about you see young girls and their actions and the way they hold themselves is not necessarily how I might stand with that. [Cockney accent again] 'What do you mean? Shut up, who are you looking to!’ I think Andrea is a lot of different people, not just one.
Do you find it easy to switch off at the end of the day?
Sometimes - I think sometimes when I’m having difficult scenes, it’s sometimes harder. At times I’ve been home and everyone’s like, 'What’s wrong with ya?'
And I think, 'What do you mean?' I’m fine and I guess you know everyone at home who’s very close knows that actually it’s not you it’s just one of those things, you come out of it, but you can’t always instinctively. It’s easier now than when I first started, definitely! I don’t think I could always find a clear definition between the two. I knew who I was and I wouldn’t let the character change who I was but it was sometimes not so distinct to shut it off.
Scene after scene, that’s fine because you know you’re in a really different state of mind. But in terms of completely switching off that character, their instinct, their abilities, the things they do… that was a bit more difficult. I guess it’s the more difficult scenes, that emotion or that mood or that mentality, they can slightly stay with you a bit.
Do you have trouble getting into character, when there’s stuff like that going on?
Not really. Sometimes it’s quite strange because you don’t realize how much you’re doing it. You find you’ve got a certain scene, you often get an advance so you know what scenes you're doing and on what days you're doing them, or roughly at some point. If I know the night before I’ve got certain scenes and I know my lines and everything else, I just start to think about different things, where’s this person come from, where are they going to, what their state of mind is, why do they say the things they say, because often it’s important not to just say things but have justified reasons why they say these things. In real life we don’t say stuff and it’s careless often, it’s thought about.