Category Archives: Actors

Natasha Khan Mayet is one Indian Actress Making a Huge Splash in Hollywood!

Natasha Khan Mayet
Actress Natasha Khan Mayet shot by Paul Smith

When internationally acclaimed actress Natasha Khan Mayet was growing up in South Africa, she knew her future would be a creative one. Since beginning her acting career over a decade ago, Natasha has become known for her roles in Mother, May I Sleep with Danger with James Franco and Tori Spelling, Metropolitan Detective, and 2 For Flinching. In a time when actresses like Priyanka Chopra are protecting national security in Quantico and Deepika Padukone is making moves in XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Natasha Khan Mayet proves actresses of Indian descent can make it in the big time on a global scale.

One of her most recent projects, Trafficked, is proof of her incredible accomplishments as globally renowned actor. In that film, Natasha shares the silver screen with Golden-Globe nominated actress and American movie star, Ashley Judd, well known for her roles in the blockbuster Divergent franchise, Olympus Has Fallen and Double Jeopardy. Natasha admits that Judd is “one of [her] favorite actresses,” so it’s no surprise that she’s proud of the esteemed production. The story of Trafficked concerns three girls from America, Nigeria and India who are trafficked through an elaborate global network and enslaved in a Texas brothel, and must together attempt a daring escape to reclaim their freedom.

In her key role as a woman who is kidnapped by Albanian mercenaries and sold to a group of Italian men, Natasha steals the audience’s attention every time she is on screen, such is the power of her captivating performance. She proudly explains that the filmmakers needed an “Indian woman with strong acting skills,” and that she was the only actress who fit the bill.

Given the critical impact her scenes have on the film’s plot development, it’s easy to describe her role as the heart of the film. The emotional depth of her role and its critical importance to the film’s story was clear while shooting. Natasha tells us how “[t]he scene where we were tied up and at the mercy of the Albanians was pretty raw, and as I stood there tied up with other girls we literally felt as if we were their prisoners.” She goes on to say that “the scene became so real…a couple of us were already crying because the moment was so real to us.”

Not only was Trafficked shortlisted for the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, it was written and produced by Siddharth Kara, author of the internationally acclaimed book Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. Kara is also a leading professor at Harvard and a lecturer at UC Berkeley, attaching greater credibility to a film project that not only brings an audience to tears, but has a politically charged message that will ensure its global success.

Further to that, Natasha confirmed her exceptional acting skills in Trafficked by working alongside award-winning director Will Wallace, who won a feature film prize at WorldFest Houston for his hit comedy Cake: A Wedding Story, starring Major Crimes and The Closer TV star, G.W. Bailey. Another one of his projects, the romantic drama Red Wing starring Hidden Figures star Glen Powell and the late Bill Paxton, was an additional credit to why Natasha was so excited to play a critical role in Wallace’s latest project.

Natasha’s authentic relationship with her craft is reflected not only in her involvement with Trafficked, but the diverse range of roles she has played in a number of other high-profile film and television productions. She explains that “acting constantly challenges me,” and that “it allows me to explore the different aspects of myself, grow and constantly evolve, and tell a different story through each role that I play.” So while Trafficked represents a recent silver screen highlight of which Natasha was a key reason in its success, she is also experiencing extraordinary triumphs on the small screen too.

Film Poster for
Film Poster for “Trafficked” directed by Will Wallace

Most recently, Natasha was seen playing the critical role of Helena Michaels in the Amazon-Prime original series Music & Murder. Appearing alongside Atlanta TV star Tony Scott, the formally-trained actress added a great depth of intrigue as the mother of lead character Chastity Michaels, and thus provided important emotional life to a storyline about a talented music video producer who avoids life on the streets and finds success, only to be framed for murder.

In further support of her reputation as an actress capable of playing complex and fully-rounded characters, much like her South African compatriot Charlize Theron, Natasha plays reporter Angela Lee in the upcoming television pilot Stimulus. In this provocative series, Angela is torn between reporting the news and uncovering the truth, in a story that raises significant questions relating to race, politics, religion and prejudice.

Clearly, Natasha’s recent work shows she is an actress who sticks to her artistic values. She elucidates that she loves “any project or role that challenges” her, and that it’s crucial for the production to “tell a story that is in some way important and conveys a message.”  

GREENWOOD ISN’T AFRAID OF THE ANTI-SEQUEL

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There is a quote that is attributed to many fine actors that states, “Dying is easy. Comedy is difficult.” It has been repeated by Academy Award winners like Gregory Peck and Jack Lemmon (most consider Edmund Kean to be the originator) and speaks to the fact that making something seem spontaneous and light hearted takes a fair bit more convincing than a dire situation. There’s also a fairly common belief that the film industry takes itself too seriously and rejects mockery. This is a notion to which Canadian writer/producer/actor Troy Greenwood does not subscribe. As a part of the FAFC (Film Actors Fight Club), Greenwood helped create the award winning film Diamond Planet. With a very self-deprecating approach, Diamond Planet poked fun at filmmakers, the film industry, and even film students. In this production, fools abounded while intelligence was scarce. The film was so popular that Troy decided to write/produce and act in the sequel…a sequel which is in fact about a film that is not yet a film. As proof that filmmakers revel in self ridicule, Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon was embraced with greater enthusiasm than the original (winning at the Calgary Film Challenge and going on to screen at the Sun and Sand Film Festival in Mississippi). Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon is a testament to the fact that as long as creative individuals take themselves too seriously, there will be peers among them who remind us all how absurd they seem.

It has increasingly become commonplace for filmmakers to feed upon themselves, recycling films and themes from the past, sometimes even repeating the same current day premise but with different casts. While Diamond Planet shone a light on laughable concepts in modern film, Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon turns its gaze to the film industry’s lack of originality and ingenuity. It seems that the current M.O. is to go for a wide audience that assures box office rather than fosters new ideas and artists; at least for the most part. Greenwood had a clear idea for a sequel which immediately follows the action of the first film. In Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon, Ollie Swagger (the filmmaker from the original Diamond Planet) steals the idea for the “Diamond Planet” that was pitched in the first film. He’s going to try and sell the idea to a studio at the annual pitchtime event. Unfortunately for Ollie, when he was bragging about it the night before the meeting, his nemesis overheard him. The next day when they are seated together, Swagger starts into a pitch about “Diamond Planet”. In the film’s premise, the Diamond Planet will cross between the sun and the earth, magnifying the sun’s rays and burning the earth to a crisp. The government wants to send optometrists into space to change the curvature of the Diamond Planet rendering the rays harmless. However, Swagger’s nemesis jumps in, pitching his movie “Emerald Horizon” about a giant emerald planet and ophthalmologists in space. We, as the actual audience, see cuts back and forth between trailers for these films as they are pitched. Each trailer becomes more and more ridiculous until they’re basically turned into one complete parody of a movie; to which the studio’s representative responds “I like it, but how about a hamster!” The unseen wink with which Greenwood delivers the humor is obvious to all. One need not look too far into recent movie productions to see evidence of this scenario. Cutting to the core of the movie’s lesson, Troy notes, “Anything that tries too hard to purport itself is funny.”

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Due to the nature of “Diamond Planet” (the spoof movie) being a science fiction suspense thriller, the production value and the cast for this sequel necessitated a sizable increase from the original Diamond Planet. Because the original was so successful, it helped to propel much of the original cast and crew into busier careers and thus some key players proved unavailable for this sequel. Luckily the popularity of Diamond Planet attracted the interest and involvement of a large number of respected Canadian actors (both films are Canadian productions). This included noted theater and film actor Stuart Bentley. Greenwood’s prowess at a multitude of production roles, in addition to the script is what enticed Bentley to join the cast of Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon. He comments, “Over the years, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Troy Greenwood on stage and in film. In a production of Inherit the Wind Troy gave a masterfully understated and relatable performance of the accused schoolteacher, Bertram Cates. Troy effortlessly navigated this difficult character, drawing in audiences and critical approval. I had the opportunity to act in Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon which Troy wrote, directed, and starred in. Troy had written a wonderfully funny script, and easily navigated the tricky job of acting and directing in his own production. He took great care of his cast and crew, and kept the production flowing on time, while being careful to ensure that every needed master and coverage shot was captured to realize his artistic vision. Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon was a great success with judges and audiences and continues to be one of my favorite film projects of the past several years.” In addition to Bentley, the considerably larger cast included notables such as Jesse Collin (Fargo), Helen Young, and many others. Troy remarks, “Stuart, Louie, and Helen were all a breeze to work with. Stuart’s presence as the president had a great gravitas to it.  He really milked the moments of humour in the script, nailing the timing of lines to keep the pacing moving as the film progressed. Helen was also wonderful to work with. I had an interesting shot envisioned where the camera rotates around her before landing on the president; she was a trooper repeating the sequence a number of times while we worked out the technical kinks with the camera movement.”

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Another positive aspect of any sequel is that the success of the initial production allows for a higher production value in the second installment. The aforementioned larger cast and a greater array of interesting locations (including the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, and the Springbank Airport Flying Club), were augmented by state of the art VFX. Greenwood relates, “I invested money to buy specific models we needed through a 3D modelling page.  Specifically, I got two distinct space ships for the two different versions of the trailer within the film, and planet models for the solar system, and then a diamond model so that my VFX artist could place them into the editor and articulate them to create the sequences you see in the film.” In fact, Troy concedes that he had to make sure the graphics were not too professional, in order to add to the humor of the trailers and the actual film itself.

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Diamond Planet 2: Emerald Horizon represents a blind spot in the film industry. While a considerable number of studios and filmmakers steer towards repeating proven ideas rather than creating new ones, Troy Greenwood has found a way to turn that concept around and use it against the very premise it represents…and still be wildly entertaining. Greenwood refers to comedy as a unique beast, remarking that you can plan all you want but often what is required is to just sit back and watch. Be careful filmmakers, you are being watched.

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Actor Wadih Dona Thrives on Challenge

Australian actor Wadih Dona is a force to be reckoned with. With an impressive depth of classical theater training, a rich catalog of stage, television and film credits, the handsome, versatile player has achieved a great deal and is poised to ascend to the top of his field. For Dona, it’s been a near-lifelong pursuit.

“I don’t think you choose acting—it chooses you,” Dona said. “From a very early age I was always drawn to it. My father worked all over the Middle East and Europe, and as child I was exposed to many places and different cultures. I was always interested in people, watching them, looking at their behavior, making up stories about them. You see a couple in a restaurant and within seconds you can figure out their relationship based on their behavior. Is this a first date or a break up? I loved that.”

Acting is a particularly demanding endeavor. In order to succeed, a practitioner must demonstrate the ability to create a wholly convincing fictional experience. It’s a complex, sophisticated, painstaking discipline, and Dona does it with a sensitivity and skein of truth that reaches his audience’s empathic core to evoke a genuine response. As Nicholas Buffalo, who directed Dona on medical drama series All Saints, said, “Wadih’s incredible skills as an actor, his talent and versatility not only ensured the series’ commercial success and high viewership but also contributed to the way the show was received by critics and award bodies alike.”

This rare ability was honed and perfected by training alongside some of the world’s most prestigious educators. With studies at the renowned Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, New England University, New York University and London’s world famous Royal Shakespeare Company, Dona, since finishing his studies in the mid-90’s, has undertaken a steady stream of work and built a career of significant momentum in theatre, film and television.

Currently appearing in the Sydney Theatre Company’s critically-acclaimed revival of Michael Gow’s Away at the Sydney Opera House, Dona’s trove of international include a wide range of theatrical work, recurring roles on some of Australia’s most watched television programs and made his US feature film debut in 2016’s Septembers of Shiraz. But, at home, he is perhaps best known for his role as Dr. Nick Paltos on the top-rated series Underbelly.

“I had watched the first season of Underbelly and loved it,” Dona said. ”Then I heard they were casting the second season leads, and Nick Paltos, the character I played was of Greek Australian heritage and I had a reasonable resemblance to him. Really, it was synchronicity, because the producers were interested in me, so I screen tested for it and the rest is history, as they say.”

“Unconventional stories are always the most interesting to me,” Dona said. “The character was based on a real person, a doctor who was notorious in the 70’s for smuggling the largest import of hashish into Australia—seven tons! Here was a conservative doctor, a GP, the pillar of his community, a church goer and beneath all of it he ran a huge drug racket. That, to me, was fascinating.”

Underbelly had smashed ratings records right out of the gate. As the Australian News reported, the show was “the most watched Australian Television series, with the double episode premiere attracting an average of 2,501,500 viewers nationally. The show has consistently rated highly, being the most watched show on Australian television for all episodes broadcast so far.” Dona’s striking portrayal of this infamous character kept the excitement high, and he relished every moment of it.

Underbelly was a fantastic experience,” Dona said. “But it was shot very quickly and was a true thrill. They cast strong actors because they knew the shooting time was short, so you really had to go with your instinct, as rehearsal time was also very short. Since I was playing a doctor on my first day of shooting the first scene was of me performing a colonoscopy, so it was very interesting getting the medical advisor to show me how to do that at 7 am on set!”

Since that six episode stint on Underbelly, his ongoing professional odyssey, with almost 30 television credits and eight big screen appearances, has been equally rewarding and successful. “Acting is a lifelong pursuit,” Dona said. “It’s organically happening for me now, and the opportunities coming are fantastic. There is no failure, only feedback. You have to plan to some extent but also leave some things to fate. I never want to be someone who regrets not doing something—if something challenges me, I embrace it.”

 

Canadian talent Kyle Meagher: “it’s a very exciting time to be a young actor”

There are many people who believe everything happens for a reason. In one instant your life can change. One decision can impact the course of your future. Fourteen-year-old actor Kyle Meagher knows this well, and his life changed in a single moment.

When the actor was just ten years old, he decided to go to an open call at the local talent agency, but he also had a hockey game later that afternoon. He knew it would be tight, but he decided he had time to head to Angie’s Models and Talent to see what would happen. However, he underestimated just how busy it would be, with almost 200 people waiting to get their big break. After waiting for over an hour, he knew he had to leave or else he would miss his hockey game. Besides, at the time, acting was just a fun past time, and not many ten-year-olds are planning their careers. Little did he know that it was when he was walking out the door that his entire life changed.

When Meagher decided to leave, Lou Seymour, the co-founder of the agency was standing at the door.  As he tried to leave, Seymour stopped him, not letting him leave, and sent him straight to the front of the line. After his audition, he was immediately asked to join the agency.

“To think I almost missed out. I am so glad Lou stopped me that day from leaving. Lou and Angie always laugh about that and say ‘Imagine you would have left without talking to us? We couldn’t let you leave’,” said Meagher.

Since that time, the Ottawa-born actor has never looked back. He continues to study his craft and take classes, and at the same time has been building an established and extensive resume. Four years after that fateful day at the open call, he is recognized around the country for his talent.

“I feel as though it’s a very exciting time to be a young actor.  The opportunities are many, with the change in technology and delivery of programming with Netflix and other services, new media and the abundance of channels, there is opportunity to get seen by a worldwide audience. We are very fortunate,” said Meagher.

And Meagher has been fortunate. His natural acting abilities combined with a good attitude and hard work have given him an abundance of opportunities. He worked with an all-star cast on the feature film Northpole, appeared in a music video for worldwide star Janelle Monáe, worked alongside his close friend on the film The Big Crunch, which is making it’s way through film festivals, and had a starring role on an episode of the award-winning series Odd Squad. Despite this success, he remains humble.

“I actually don’t like seeing myself on TV. I have been known to run out of the room in embarrassment. I guess as actors we are pretty critical of ourselves,” he said. “The only time I do like to watch myself is when I am rehearsing for an audition or for filming. I have to tape myself to watch it and see if there is anything I can do better. I still don’t like to watch it because I never seem to be satisfied, but it’s helpful.”

The people Meagher works with, however, are consistently satisfied with both his performance and demeanour. Meagher’s manager, Dimitrios Seymour, describes working with him as very rewarding.

“To have such a professional, talented and, an amazing attitude, at such a young age, isn’t something that an agent like myself sees every day. He approaches roles with such excitement, poise, and confidence that he always makes a major impression on casting and production teams. I never hesitate to pick up the phone and put myself on the line to push him through to opportunities because I know Kyle will always follow through,” said Seymour. “His natural instinctive chops are what separates him from other actors. He has great timing and understands how to really read a scene and feed off his partner. He’s also worked very hard developing his skill set in class, which has made him a versatile young actor who can bounce between comedic and dramatic scenes naturally.”

In addition to working on award-winning series and a variety of films, Meagher has also worked on many national commercial campaigns. He says the most memorable moment of his career so far was working on a web series promoting Mega Blocks, a leading building block toy owned by Mattel. As a kid, he was living the dream, when every few months he would get a box of toys sent to his house to play and build, and then head to the set with a film crew to discuss what he liked best.

“It was amazing.  I did it for Spongebob building sets, Hotwheels, Police Cruisers, Skylanders, you name it.  Then, near Christmas time, I was walking through Toys R Us and I went to see the building sets and right there on the shelf was a mini TV with push buttons where you could watch my videos right there.  My videos were across all the Toys R Us stores. I started trying to visit stores everywhere I went just to see if they were there,” said Meagher.

Promoting what you are a fan of while working on a commercial makes your job that much more enjoyable, and Meagher has worked on all sorts of campaigns for things he genuinely enjoys. As a hockey fan, getting to do a commercial for NHL gear was a fantastic experience. He has also worked on many food commercials, and getting to eat some tasty treats while filming is, of course, a bonus.

“When auditioning for a Black Diamond Cheese Spread commercial, all I had to do was sit at a table and pretend to eat crackers likeit was my favorite food. I didn’t realize I was only supposed to pretend, so I ate the crackers the casting director gave me,” said Meagher. “He had to explain I was only supposed to pretend – not actually eat them –  and he had to give me more. We laughed and laughed, but I got the job!”

No matter what job he works on, Meagher enjoys what he does, and at just fourteen years old, he is definitely off to quite the start. Having passion for your chosen career path is important at any age, and his commitment to keep improving and refining his natural abilities shows a maturity that many people much older do not possess. He will definitely be on our screens for years to come.

“Being on set is an incredible feeling.  The people are always fun to be with and amazing to be around. It’s like instant friendship. It’s exciting to be able to suddenly be someone I am not. For instance, I tend to get to play the villain a lot. In reality, I am usually a quieter guy who is often concerned about people’s feelings but when I get into character, I can play the mean guy.  How many other people get to be different people every time they go to work?  While it can be hard work, it is always fun,” he concluded.

Andrew Searles is seriously funny in upcoming film Cereal Killer

While growing up in Montreal, Andrew Searles always knew he wanted to perform. As a child, he would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation and be captivated not only by the special effects and storyline that made the show what it was, but the performances of the actors. He watched every episode he could, studying how the show was made, fascinating him even more. When was watching other movies and shows, recognizing actors but seeing them play different characters, he was enchanted. He knew that he had to follow in the same footsteps. And he has, Searles is an incredibly versatile actor, just like those whom he idolized as a child.

While also being an established stand-up comedian, Searles is of course capable to deliver a comedic scene. He understands improvisation, and exactly how to deliver a joke that will leave the audience in stiches. However, it is his more serious side of acting that leaves audiences bewitched. He really can do it all.

“I like the aspect of portraying somebody else who isn’t me,” said Searles. “Taking on a new persona, a new identity, embodying their traits and creating an entirely new person, or taking on the personality of whomever I’m supposed to be portraying.”

Searles flexibility as an actor is exemplified further in the upcoming film Cereal Killer, written and directed by Fabrice Barthelemy. Cereal Killer is a comedy that follows Jimmy, a young man who loves eating his cereal. However, things take a turn for the worst when someone in his neighborhood keeps breaking into his apartment and eating his cereal. Jimmy, along with his best friend, Sean, team up to begin an investigation of who keeps eating Jimmy’s cereal. Searles plays Gus, the antagonist in the film. Gus is a very mild mannered, quiet, reserved, caretaker of an apartment building. He often says inappropriate things without realizing he said them. When Jimmy is searching for whomever has been breaking into his apartment and eating his cereal, it eventually turns out Gus was the culprit the whole time.

“Portraying a character like Gus allowed me to ‘get my hands dirty’. I wanted Gus to be a very dark, twisted, soulless type of character. I wanted to use this opportunity to break away from being a ‘comedic’ actor in a sense, and shine as someone playing a character who is disturbed. Even though Gus’s lines would still be comedic in nature, I figured his lines would come off even funnier if they were delivered in a dark, morbid tone, rather than from a goofy, comedic character,” said Searles.

Gus was not originally intended to be a dark character, but it was Searles’ intuition that brought the character to life, and the twist added even more humor to the film.

“I created his personality and traits and integrated them into the film. I also learned how to embody a very serious, dark character, darker than I’ve ever played on camera. I learned how to keep the balance of playing a very serious somber character while playing with the comedic lines and aspects of the film. I wanted to be dark enough so the darkness of his character shined through, and the audience felt that, but not too much where the comedy aspect of the film is off balance,” he explained.

And does his technique ever work. In a pivotal scene in the film, when Gus is being confronted for being the cereal thief, he is extremely serious, as if confessing to an actual murder. He even puts his hands up to be handcuffed after his confession, as if he committed a large crime, but he is just being told he is fired.

“Fabrice originally intended the role to be a fun, goofy, type of character, but wanting to play something different than just a type casted comedic role, I played it my way at the table read and Fabrice lost his mind and hollered at how much he loved my angle on Gus. He was so ecstatic and in awe because he never envisioned his character to be that dark, and it’s his dark humor and awkwardness that made Gus even better on screen. I figured that if funny lines from a funny character are expected and normal, then funny lines from an unfunny and dark character would be even funnier, because it’s not what the audience would be expecting,” said Searles.

Although Searles went in to read for the character of Gus, he was actually approached and asked to play the part without an audition. The Assistant Director and Assistant Writer of the film, Sara Sommers, knew that Searles possessed extraordinary acting capabilities that would make the film even better.

“Andrew is an extremely driven and talented individual. During filming, he displayed his incredible acting and comedic talents. There is no doubt in my mind that he was the correct person for the role. No one else could bring this character to life the way Andrew did. His portrayal was done magnificently and effortlessly and I am sure that he will bring these attributes to all his future roles. Andrew is the type of talent that we do not meet on a day to day basis. He is unique, one of a kind and truly remarkable. He is the type of actor that not only would directors and producers love to work with, but also will be loved by audience members as they will be struck by his presence. I would work with Andrew on a future project in a heartbeat. He truly is a talent to look out for,” said Sommers.

Cereal Killer is expected to be released later this year.

From the Stage to the Screen Australian Actress Natalie Page is a Knock Out!

Actress Natalie Page
Australian Actress Natalie Page shot by Andrew Rouse

 

Hailing from Sydney, Australia actress Natalie Page has created a dazzling reputation for herself as a uniquely talented performer whose dynamic character portrayals continually leave audiences wanting more. Over the past three decades Page has amassed an impressive repertoire of work that spans both the stage and screen, with each character she takes on shedding light on the multi-faceted nature of her craft.

In the world of network television fans will immediately recognize Page from her critical roles in the Awgie, Logie and AFI Award winning crime drama “Water Rats,” the long-running series “Deadly Women,” “Australia’s Most Wanted,” “White Collar Blue” and more.  

Page discovered her passion for performing early on in life. Driven to take her craft to the next level she began studying at Sydney’s renowned Genesian Theatre Company in her youth, where she immersed herself in Chekhov’s vast repertoire of work.

“I can bring all of myself to acting as it involves mind, body, energy, voice and a precision that requires my focus and dedication. A craft that I can bring all of myself to is both stimulating and enormously satisfying,” admits Page.

Early on in her career Page put her flare for the art of seduction on display in the critical role of a sultry mistress in the hit romantic drama “Home and Away,” which has earned a whopping 26 Logie Awards and six Awgie Awards to date.

In the series “Water Rats” Page struck a chord with audiences with her performance as a hostage fearing for her life. Sharing the screen with Astra and Logie Award winning actress Catherine McClements (“Tangle,” “Rush”) and Film Critics Circle of Australia Award winner Colin Friels (“Tom White,” “Ground Zero,” “Malcolm”), Page held her own acting alongside Australia’s best without ever missing a beat.

Her ability to tap in and embody the fear one feels when trapped in a situation where the question of whether she will live or die lays in the hands of a desperate criminal landed her another critical role as a hostage in “Australia’s Most Wanted,” which aired on Australia’s Nine Network, one of the two highest rated networks in the country.

Page’s incredible range has allowed her to portray the victim as believably as the villain, something she proved when she took on the starring role of Marie Noe in the popular series “Deadly Women” episode “Murder of Innocence” narrated by Lynnanne Zager (“Hotel Transylvania 2,” “Transcendence,” “Kung Fu Panda 3”).

A Philadelphia housewife who gave birth to 10 children, with two of them dying at birth and the other eight dying under suspicious circumstances, which turn out to be caused by her own hands, as she admits to strangling them nearly 30 years after the fact.

The way Page taps into this sinister, real life character, mastering Marie Noe’s Philadelphia accent and embodying the character’s mannerisms on screen not only makes the story that much more believable, but one that undoubtedly sends a shiver up the spine of all who watch the episode.

The actress admits, “I like a project that will present a challenge and one in which I can bring something unique to the role.”

While Natalie Page has left an indelible mark in the minds of audiences through her on-screen roles, she’s made just as powerful of an impact through her performances on stage. In 2014 she took on the starring role of Millicent in Brett Garland’s revival of “Estranged” staged at Sydney’s Tap Gallery theatre, which debuted in Australia during the Mardi Gras Festival.

Written by renowned playwright Jason Charles, “Estranged” brings to life the story of a dysfunctional family who comes together for the wedding of one of the sons while exploring themes of sexuality, societal acceptance and the way judgement can divide us from those we love. The mother of the son to be wed, Page’s character Millicent is the divisive force who causes the original rift in the family decades prior when she passes harsh judgements on her sister and subsequently banishes her and her son from their lives. As the drama and tension plays out over the course of the nuptials, we see Millicent and her sister engage in malicious attacks against one another, with Millicent going as far as to slap her sister in the face in front of everyone, a challenging move that Page pulls of with precision.

 

Natalie Page
Natalie Page (left) & Lena Sandberg (right) in “Estranged” shot by Brett Garland

 

Page explains, The reason I liked this role is because my struggle to accept such a mean spirited person was vast– I had to overcome this and be prepared to allow people to see me in a very ugly light, even slapping my sister across the face… When I completely surrendered to the role my work flourished.”

It comes as no surprise that the production received rave reviews across Australia as Page gave a phenomenal performance as the mean spirited Millicent in a portrayal that made her character one who is easily loathed by audiences.

While Page’s acting skill and commanding presence on the stage and screen have made her an easy fan favorite, these qualities have also been a huge draw factor for high-profile companies across the globe who have cast her as their lead actress. In 2014 she starred in a commercial for the popular Australian noodle company Maggi, and most recently she landed the lead role in a commercial for Australian Seniors Funeral Insurance, which is currently airing nationally across Australia.

From High Stakes Stunts to Emotional Character Portrayals, Rick Tonna is a Knock Out On Screen!

Rick Tonna
Actor and stuntman Rick Tonna shot by Andrew Campbell

Over the past two decades leading actor and stuntman Rick Tonna, who’s originally from Melbourne, Australia, has made an indelible mark on the Hollywood film industry and abroad through a number of memorable performances in high profile films such as Russell Crowe’s “The Water Diviner,” Jon Hewitt’s “Elimination Game” and “I, Frankenstein,” as well the Awgie and ADG Award winning crime series “Rush,” the AACTA Award winning series “Underbelly” and more.

Shining a bright light on the diverse talent Australia has to offer, Tonna is the perfect example of how drive, dedication and skill can turn a Hollywood newcomer into a leading figure in tinsel town’s competitive film industry in a relatively short amount of time. While breaking into Hollywood is rarely easy, Tonna’s established reputation for delivering first-rate work back home in Australia provided a helpful segway for him to begin landing roles in major Hollywood productions once he moved stateside several years ago.

In 2014 Tonna took to the screen in Oscar Award winner Russell Crowe’s (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Gladiator”) directorial debut “The Water Diviner,” in which Crowe stars as Connor, an Australian father who travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli in search of his three sons, who go missing while serving with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.

A major hit among Australian film critics, “The Water Diviner” earned the AACTA Awards for Best Film, Best Supporting Actor and Best Costume Design, an Awgie Award from the Australian Writers Guild, as well as four awards from the Australian Screen Sound Guild and four more from Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards.

In the film, which also stars Olga Kurylenko (“Oblivion,” “Quantum of Solace”) and Jai Courtney (“Insurgent,” “A Good Day to Die Hard”), Tonna shares screen time with Crowe and gives a riveting performances as a Turkish soldier defending his country.

Rick Tonna
Still of Rick Tonna (left) and Russell Crowe (right) in “The Water Diviner”

“My character was a hard working Turkish man who was conscripted to fight in the war against the Greeks and later fought the Australians in what is known today as Gallipoli. He was simply defending his homeland… His land and people came first his own life second,” explains Tonna.

“‘The Water Diviner’ was both a physically challenging and immensely rewarding role for me. Firstly, it was a role I was requested to play directly from the director Russell Crowe and the Oscar winning stunt coordinator, Doug Coleman, themselves. That it itself brings pressure.”

But as we’ve seen through his high stakes performances in a long list of other international hits over the years, such as the Logie nominated film “Jack Irish: Black Tide,” the Golden Globe nominated series “The Pacific,” Syfy’s Saturn Award nominated series “Childhood’s End” and the Logie and AACTA Award winning series “The Secret River,” Rick Tonna is not one to crack under pressure.

In 2015 Tonna took on the critical role of Devine in the multi-award winning series “The Secret River,” where he acts alongside Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“Emerald City,” Despite the Falling Snow”), AFCA and AACTA Award winner Sarah Snook (“Steve Jobs,” “Predestination”) and Logie Award winner Lachy Hulme (“The Matrix Revolutions,” “Killer Elite”).

Adapted from Kate Grenville’s novel of the same name, “The Secret River” is set in the early 1800s and follows William Thornhill, played by Oliver Jackson-Cohen, a young man who is sentenced to life in New South Wales where he finds himself in the middle of a bloody conflict between the British settlers and the land’s indigenous people.

Being from Australia originally, the story “The Secret River” brings to life hits painfully close to home for Tonna, which is only multiplied by the fact that his character Devine is one of the most ruthless and hateful British convicts on the show.

Tonna says, “‘The Secret River’ was a truly emotional journey for me. This part of Australian history has been sugarcoated to hide the cold and brutal truth of the heartbreaking slaughter of the Aboriginal people.”

 "The Secret River"
Still of Rick Tonna as Devine in “The Secret River”

Devine is seen throughout the series murdering aboriginal people without remorse, and the way Tonna embodies his character’s brutal and villainous nature on screen makes Devine an easy character to hate. From the audience’s perspective Tonna seamlessly inhabits the character, the truth beyond the screen though is that the role posed overwhelming challenges for Tonna; but that’s what it means to be a great actor after all, to be able to remove one’s self and truly become the character at hand, and Tonna does that without missing a beat.

“From an emotionally moral point of view, this was one of the toughest roles for me. Devine was part of a group whose hatred for the Aboriginal people was gut wrenching, I had a very defined ‘on- off’ switch where right up until I was on set I kept the switch off. I had to as the savage brutality of Devine pushed me to edge every time,” admits Tonna. “There were days I held back tears until I was alone.”

One of the toughest days for Tonna was shooting a scene for “The Secret River” episode two where Devine and his group slaughter an entire tribe.

Tonna recalls, “As we watched the bodies burn I hear a newborn child cry. I have to load my gun and shoot the child. Needless to say that this scene absolutely wrecked me emotionally.”

While stunts are what started Tonna’s onscreen career, with his expertise in martial arts and motorcycle precision driving landing him innumerable roles in action-packed productions, his gift for powerful character portrayals, even the ones that are painful to watch like his performance as Devine, are what have made him such a sought after actor around the world.

“For me it is about connecting with the audience through the scene. Becoming the character and bringing life to the words on the script. To be able to tell a story that hopefully will move the audience,” explains Tonna about what drives him to perform.

Regardless of whether he’s grabbing our attention with his action heavy roles as a stuntman, or captivating us with his authentic and emotionally honest performances as an actor, Tonna is one talented Aussie we can’t help but fixate on everytime he hits the screen.

Up next for Tonna is the highly anticipated new series “Emergency: LA,” a dramatic crime series where he will take on the lead role of Motorcycle Officer Joey Truscott. He is also slated to play a critical role on an upcoming series that is currently being developed for Netflix, so make sure to stay tuned for upcoming announcements about that.