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Interview: Nathan Stewart-Jarrett

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Nathan Stewart-Jarrett: Curtis from Misfits, Ian from Channel 4’s smash hit Utopia, and all-round nice guy. He took some time out of promoting Utopia’s DVD release to talk to The National Student about the conspiracy thriller and what it was like to finally say goodbye to Misfits.

For people who haven’t seen Utopia yet, could you try and sum it up in a couple of sentences? Tough ask I know…

In a couple of sentences?! Um… it’s about a graphic novel called the Utopia Project that has been written by a scientist and contains governmental secrets. Our group from an internet forum have met up to find the manuscript, and the people who want to keep the secrets “secret” are after us!

Why should people catch up on it and why is it worth watching?

I think it’s really really gripping, it looks amazing and the writing is incredible. But it’s the conspiracy side of it that’s really gripping, and the way it’s set in a kind of dystopian present – we don’t know when we’re being watched, or who we can trust. It’s also got really great characters as well, people can identify with each character which is wonderful.

I definitely enjoy that aspect of it, that it almost seems like it could happen…

Yeah, I think a big part of it is not whether it COULD happen but is it happening NOW, I think that’s really interesting.

People know you as Curtis from Misfits - a lot of people loved the character and the show was really popular. How does your character Ian in Utopia differ from Curtis?

Ah cheers… In every way! He’s a frustrated I.T consultant that lives at home with his mother, he’s really smart but he’s not very confident with girls, I mean he doesn’t even know what he wants to do in life, whereas Curtis was so driven, he was really ambitious and focused on a goal. Ian is the complete opposite. But that’s cool because he’s a character people can relate to, a lot of people come out of school or university and get a job and then they’re like… what next? They face a severe slump and that’s what Ian’s going through now.

There are definite similarities between Misfits and Utopia – both darkly funny dramas – is that the sort of script you’re drawn to, or is it just coincidence?

I think it’s a bit of a coincidence actually, though there are similarities in both. I mean I LOVE the script, that’s really what it was about for me personally.

I was genuinely upset when Curtis, last of the original cast, was killed off in Misfits. Do you feel like it was a worthy send off for the character, and were you sad to leave the show or did it feel like the right time?

It was a huge part of my career and a huge part of my life, four or five years! So I was super sad about finishing, with the crew and producers it really became like a little family… but I do think it was the right time, anyone in acting knows that you can’t stay in one place forever, and I felt like it was the right time to go. It was an amazing send off, I was really happy with it, I thought it was a great episode.

Back to Utopia, and the fairly iconic awkward attempted sex scene from the first episode. Was it massively different filming an intentionally awkward sex scene from a normal one? You’ve been in quite a few!

(Laughs) Yeah, it’s kind of like a prerequisite at the moment - it’s like someone secretly writes it in to my contract.

As long as your bum’s in an episode somewhere they’re pretty happy right?

There we go yeah, that’s it. I think it’s probably a bit easier, it was really early on in the shoot that we did the scene so it was quite nerve wracking, but I think because we weren’t meant to take it seriously and we weren’t, in inverted commas, “love making”, there was no kind of emotional intensity so it was easier to find elements in it that were supposed to be funny, so it was probably a lot easier than some of the others that I’ve done. We were supposed to be really drunk so had license to go to places you wouldn’t normally go, it eases you into the scene. Though we did do it in the morning… it was the very first scene we did!

Utopia was fairly violent, with Wilson’s torture scene being a particular stand out.

I think what’s great about Utopia is it doesn’t glorify that violence, but it’s SO scary, which I think is realistic, whenever I see violence in real life it’s really shocking. I think it’s great that it shocks rather than thrills you like certain action movies do. But the precedent’s been set, we’ve got quite a high body count!

What projects do you have lined up next and can we expect to see you in anything soon?

I’ve got a couple of films coming out this year! I filmed something about a year ago called The Comedian, that comes out in March as an independent film, that was completely improvised. It’s about a disappointed comedian and London, and I think it paints London in quite a realistic view. I’m really looking forward to that! Then I filmed something in November called Dom Hemingway, it’s got Jude Law, Emilia Clarke and Richard E. Grant, and I’m in that playing a Senegalese musician, I think it’s coming out towards the winter. That was pretty cool.

Finally, do you have any advice for students aspiring to get into the acting business?

Yes, I do! I suppose it’s about watching as many films and plays as you can and immersing yourself in that world. That’s how I did it, I was really interested in it, watching as many things as I could. Also if you have drama groups at your university then join them as well, and importantly have the belief! I suppose it seems a bit cliché to say “don’t give up” but really that’s what it’s all about, stay persistent and you’ll make it. 

UTOPIA out on DVD & Bly Ray from 11th March 2013

 

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