Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Video: Gugu giving Acting advice : BAFTA Guru - In Focus: Acting, Vol. 2

"In a role, I'm mainly looking for truth and integrity. No matter what it is, even if it's a comic cameo, there's still got to be a truth behind it."
For acting advice from some of the biggest female names in the business, check out this second volume on Acting from our In Focus series, featuring Keira Knightley, Julie Walters, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tasmin Greig!
Published on 15 May 2015

Watch the first volume of In Focus: Acting here: http://bit.ly/1HgBCSD

Stay up to date with the latest news from BAFTA:

@BAFTAGuru: https://twitter.com/BAFTAGuru 
@BAFTA: https://twitter.com/BAFTA 
@BAFTAGames: https://twitter.com/BAFTAGames 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bafta
Instagram: http://instagram.com/bafta

Film: http://bafta-film.tumblr.com/ 
TV: http://bafta-television.tumblr.com/ 
Games: http://bafta-games.tumblr.com/

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/bafta/
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/+BAFTA/posts

Sign up to receive our emails: http://guru.bafta.org/newsletter 
And don't forget you can also subscribe to our podcasts:

iTunes: http://bit.ly/Vz84HI 


Monday, 18 May 2015

2013 Photos of Gugu and the cast of Belle at the Toronto International Film Festival


Directed by Amma Asante 
Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes the title role alongside Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson and Canada’s Sarah Gadon in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.
Fans of English period drama are accustomed to its gorgeous settings, social graces, and sophisticated language. But what's often missing from those adaptations of Jane Austen or the Brontës is the institution at the foundation of that refined life: slavery. Austen wrote about how the slave trade made British gentry wealthy, but until now no film has brought both the glory and the contradictions of that life to the screen in such a powerful fashion.
In late eighteenth century England, Dido Elizabeth Belle is born to a white British admiral and a black Caribbean slave. The admiral's well-bred family is appalled, but when he returns to sea, custom dictates that they raise his child as an aristocrat. Britain's imposing Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) is both Dido's uncle and the family patriarch, and instructs this biracial young woman (Gugu Mbatha Raw) to respect both the law and the social codes of her station. She is a lady, but an embarrassment. How is she ever to marry?
Director Amma Asante found her inspiration for Belle in a true story, and she sets the plot in motion in sweeping, cinematic form. At the same time, she weaves in potent subplots: Dido's cousin Elizabeth (a pitch-perfect Sarah Gadon), raised in similar circumstances but untouched by racial discrimination; and a horrific, slave-trading case over which her powerful uncle must preside.
Belle is as beautiful and romantic as any Austen adaptation, but with new insights into its time. Both stirring and thought-provoking, it offers all the pleasures of period drama but returns to rest on Dido's simple question: "How may I be too high in rank to dine with the servants but too low to dine with my family?" 

Cameron Bailey

Nate Parker Goes Above And Beyond In ‘Beyond The Lights’ Vibe magazine November 2014


 By: Camille Augustin / November 14, 2014
Nate Parker has no time for funny business. The 34-year-old actor has already stacked his IMDb profile with serious projects like Red Hook Summer and Red Tails, and is directing a Nat Turner biopic called The Birth Of A Nation. Near the top of his credit list lies Beyond The Lights, the romantic drama created by Love & Basketballdirector Gina Prince-Bythewood.
The Norfolk, Virginia, native plays hero in the film as Officer Kaz Nichols, who saves superstar Noni Jean (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) from a suicide attempt and eventually falls for her. Clichés aside, the two are brilliant on the big screen and prove black love is alive and well. Here, Parker dishes on working with Hollywood’s new bae, tackling a music career and why his work serves a higher purpose.—Camille Augustin
VIBE: Gugu is gorgeous. Did it make your job as her leading man harder or easier?
Nate Parker: I don’t think it made it harder at all. Her beauty is eclipsed by her talent. She’s so good, so it not only made it easy but it made it engaging and effortless with respect to being present. It’s a lot of beautiful women that exist but to have one that has a talent that’s so intense is very much a blessing.
Who is your Hollywood crush?
You know what’s funny? You’re the second person to ask me that. I don’t have a crush. I think I grew out of crushes and, having a family, that’s a trap question but I’ll just say Gugu is definitely my movie crush.
Whose brilliant idea was it for you to sing karaoke to New Edition’s “Can You Stand The Rain”?
It was all Gina. I remember when it came up, she said, “Can you sing?” I was like, “I can sing a little bit.” The plan was to sound as terrible as I possibly could and that was easy and fun. Gina wrote an incredible script. She developed it and took so much time to explore and investigate all the details that make these characters who they are.
Will you be taking on a music career?
(Laughs) I will let my performance in the film as a singer tell you that, but the answer is probably not. I have no desire to be a singer, but I did in that scene and it was fun.
In the movie, your character has never been on a plane. Is there anything you haven’t done in your lifetime?
There are places I haven’t been, but I can’t think of too many things I haven’t done. I’ve never skydived. I try not to do things that if something went wrong, my mom would look at me and shake her head so I stay away from things that are too risky or risky for no reason. Like I said, I have a family, I don’t really do the thrill stuf.
Last year, there were reports that you were up for the role of Django in Django Unchained and that you found the script upsetting. Is there any truth to that?
My only issue is that as people of African descent, we have so many stories of real heroes that lived and died in the name of freedom and justice. I don’t want to criticize [the film], I just felt like it wasn’t for me and I felt like it wasn’t productive to what we’re trying to do as a community.
Going back to Beyond The Lights, how was working with rapper Machine Gun Kelly?
He was great. He had such a desire to be honest, truthful and believable that he took off his ego. He asked questions and I felt like he delivered a brilliant performance. He had the burden being the guy that had the beautiful girl and him being a rapper that is not African-American. There was a bad version of it that did not get played, which I’m very happy for. He didn’t push it, but it’s really a testament to his commitment to the role.
Are you into hip-hop and rap?
Not so much anymore. I’m 34 about to be 35 and there’s some good stuff out there but I’m the type of guy [where] my best ideas come in the car when there’s silence. I don’t really turn on the radio much but every once in a while, when a really good song comes on, I’ll listen. In the movie, Gina was able to secure “Drunk In Love.” That’s a song I really liked before and after. I don’t really listen to hip-hop and R&B as much as I used to. One of my favorite artists still is Nas. I’m a big fan of Common, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, Mos Def and A Tribe Called Quest.
Director Gina Prince-Bythewood also directed the famed film Love & Basketball.What do you remember of that movie and were you and Gugu looking to capture the same magic?
Love & Basketball‘s one of my favorite films of all time. Gina is one of my favorite people of all time and she’s probably one of the top directors in my life from a work and relationship standpoint. I call her savant. She takes her time. There’s a reason why she only puts out a film every four years because she refuses to compromise the story. She understands that she owes something to her vision. It’s so funny because but Gugu and I get a lot of questions about that but we invested in each other and we investigated each other, and we were there for each other. We knew whatever would come out would be honest.
Do you have any future projects lined up?
I’m actually directing a film on Nat Turner called The Birth Of A Nation which starts filming in December so I’m literally in prep for that right now.
Your character Kaz was big on quotes, what’s a saying that you live by?
There’s a quote by Dante (Alighieri) that says, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who remain neutral in times of moral conflict.” That one inspires my career. My whole career is about being intentional about the roles I select because I feel like I have to be intentional. I can’t remain neutral in a community where so many things need help and work. The image of the black man, the over-sexualization of the black woman. These are things that we deal with in this film, playing Kaz Nichols who has integrity, and stands for justice in the criminal justice system, but is not of the system. In the film, one of his quotes is “Truth is the only solid ground to stand on.” It’s like, ‘That’s okay, you can be that as a black man, you can be that now.’ I wanted to create an image of a black man who really loved his woman, put her first and pursued the love of her, and saw her humanity and wanted to inspire her in that.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

2012: Gugu Mbatha-Raw went to America by accident, now every time the British star of Touch tries to get home an A-lister offers her a job

Hollywood hostage! Gugu Mbatha-Raw went to America by accident, now every time the British star of Touch tries to get home an A-lister offers her a job

Gugu Mbatha-Raw would really, really like to come home. She misses the Oxfordshire countryside where she grew up. She misses her mother and London’s theatre world. She misses her friends and the British sense of humour. The only problem is, America doesn’t seem to have any plans to let this up-and-coming actress go. 
She first went there by accident. While she was playing Ophelia to Jude Law’s Hamlet in the West End, the show won a Broadway run in 2009. It was her first time in the States and she was homesick. 
But then JJ Abrams, the creator of Lost, offered her a part in his new show Undercovers. Next, Tom Hanks cast her in his film Larry Crowne with Julia Roberts. And now she’s starring opposite Kiefer Sutherland in his first television role since 24. 
America doesn't seem to have any plans to let up-and-coming actress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, go
America doesn't seem to have any plans to let up-and-coming actress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, go
The show, Touch, has already been sold to 100 countries and with 23 episodes planned for each series, it doesn’t look like she’s going to get home soon.
‘I’m totally in denial about moving here,’ says Gugu, 28. ‘Every time I get a new contract I rent a new flat. It’s not like I packed my bags and said, “I’m moving to Hollywood”. But the work keeps bringing me back. My most overused word at the moment is surreal. In 2009 I was living in London and getting work I enjoyed. 
'But since then I’ve worked with Jude Law, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland. That is surreal. When I first arrived it was a real culture shock. I see LA as a workplace rather than somewhere to live. If I don’t get out I go crazy. If you have a little success people treat you differently, so it’s good to keep a healthy perspective. It’s acting, not rocket science.’
Wow-factor: The actress looked stunning in a sexy black lace cut-out frock
Wow-factor: The actress looked stunning in a sexy black lace cut-out frock
Stepping into the spotlight: Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the premiere of Touch in New York last month
Gugu, whose name means ‘pride’ in Zulu, was a born performer – even though there is no history of showbusiness in her blood; her English mother Anne was a nurse while her South African father Patrick was a doctor. Although she was one of the few mixed-race children at the Henry Box School in Witney, and her parents split up when she was one, she was a happy, extroverted child. ‘From the age of four I loved ballet and tap. I was in the school band, the choir and all my school plays.’ 


Kiefer Sutherland on the moment he knew he’d found the right boy to play his son in Touch.
Kiefer Sutherland
Kiefer Sutherland sat through 35 auditions for the role of his mute son Jake in his latest TV series – but knew the last 34 were a waste of time.
‘I looked into the eyes of the first child who auditioned, David Mazouz, and I cried,’ says Kiefer, 45. 
‘There was something about David that reminded me of my daughter Sarah at 11 – the big eyes, the ability to convey emotion without saying a word – which I found so moving. I just knew he was the one.’
The series is, at heart, about the relationship between a father and son. 
‘It’s about the guilt a parent feels every day of their lives, to the power of ten,’ says Kiefer. 
‘Which parent gets through a day and says, “I did everything perfectly today?”  I suspect there are few who have.’
From there she moved on to the Oxford Youth Music Theatre and then, at 17, breezed into RADA. She played Juliet to new Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield’s Romeo in Manchester when they were both 22, and had minor roles in Spooks and Doctor Who (where she played Martha’s little sister). Then came Hamlet with Jude in New York – and America fell in love with her. 
It helps that she does a very good American accent, so good she even pretended to be an American when she met Tom Hanks to pitch for her role in Larry Crowne. ‘I auditioned with an American accent on Friday morning, then I was told I had to meet Tom Hanks on the Monday. My manager had heard Tom didn’t want the role to go to a Brit because he saw her as quintessentially American and advised me to do the interview with an American accent. 
That panicked me because I knew it would fall apart once he asked me which college I went to. So I went in doing an American accent, then cracked after five minutes. I said to him in my English accent, “I hear you only want to cast an American but that isn’t really the case, is it?” He looked at me and it was nerve-racking for a moment. But then he laughed and I got the job.’
But it’s Touch that could make her a star. It centres on an autistic, mute boy, Jake Bohm, who communicates only with numbers. His father Martin, played by Kiefer, struggles to control him, and Gugu’s character, social worker Clea Hopkins, tries to help. Martin and Clea realise Jake can see the future and links people around the world via the numbers he writes in a notebook. Though it’s already on Sky1, Gugu and Kiefer are still filming the end of the first series. 
All of which leaves little time for romance. She recently split from Game Of Thrones and Robin Hood actor Harry Lloyd, but won’t reveal whether she has a new boyfriend. She lives in West Hollywood ‘which is not as glamorous as it sounds’ and on the rare moments she has off she catches up with old friends, including Andrew Garfield. ‘I’ve got friends from home and some new ones I’ve made here, but mostly I just try to rest.’
And seeing as Gugu can’t get back to Oxford, she’s taken a little bit of Oxford to Hollywood. She’s bought herself an Oxford-made Mini Cooper. A little car in a big place. 
Touch, Tuesday, 8pm, Sky1.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2125487/Gugu-Mbatha-Raw-Every-time-British-star-Touch-tries-home-A-lister-offers-job.html#ixzz3ZTwxtfxu
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

‘I love period dramas: Gugu Mbatha-Raw interview 29.1.15

‘I love period dramas. Being biracial, I wasn't necessarily going to turn up on Downton Abbey’: Gugu Mbatha-Raw interview

In the past 12 months Gugu Mbatha-Raw has landed roles opposite Matthew McConaughey and Will Smith and been taken under the wing of America's foremost talk-show host. So what's next for Britain's brightest star?

Hollywood here she comes: cocktail dress, POA, Elena Reva (elenareva.com)
Updated: 13:48, 29 January 2015

In her most recent film, Beyond the Lights, Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Noni, a Rihanna-like pop star who’d never turn up to a press engagement without a cavalcade of black SUVs and an entourage of assistants, stylists and hangers-on. But Gugu is still sufficiently down-to-earth to arrive for our interview at an LA studio in her own car — a Mini Cooper — without anyone to hold her handbag.
That state of affairs may not last long, because the 31-year-old star of the 2013 British film Belle is about to hit the really big time, with a string of major Hollywood movies on the horizon, in which she’ll be seen acting opposite Keanu Reeves, Will Smith and Matthew McConaughey. She has also been nominated for the EE Rising Star Award at this year’s BAFTAs, chosen by the public. Previous winners include James McAvoy and Kristen Stewart.
Her fellow nominees include Jack O’Connell, the breakout British star of Unbroken and ’71, and Miles Teller, from the Oscar-nominated drama Whiplash. ‘I’ve actually kissed Miles Teller,’ Gugu confides, in what sounds like a scoop. In fact, the smooch was on-screen, as part of a short film series for The New York Times website.
Gugu, who has never been on Twitter or Facebook, plays her real-life romantic cards close to her chest. She dated the actor Harry Lloyd until 2012 and may run into him on the red carpet this awards season — he plays Stephen Hawking’s best friend in the much-nominated The Theory of Everything. If she has a boyfriend now, she’s not saying.
Playing Noni, who spends a lot of her time at parties or being pursued by paps, will have given Gugu some practice for the pressures of public life. For the part, she performed songs specially written by The-Dream, who has penned hits for Britney and Beyoncé, and choreographed by Laurieann Gibson, Lady Gaga’s former creative director.
The musical demands of the role weren’t a total departure for Gugu, who learned to play the saxophone as a girl and whose earliest ambitions were in musical theatre. At 11, she took to the stage for the first time as Dorothy, in a local production of The Wizard of Oz, and later appeared in National Youth Music Theatre productions, including Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods.
Beyond the Lights portrays the poignant romance between Noni and an idealistic young cop (played by Nate Parker), who saves her from a suicide attempt. Due to be released in the UK this summer, the film was barely seen in the US, despite appearing on several best-of-2014 lists, and some have suggested it was overlooked by the mainstream because it was marketed misleadingly as, in the words of one critic, ‘a date movie for black audiences’.
Dress, £668, The 2nd Skin Co (the2ndskinco.com)Gugu admits to frustrations with the film’s promotional campaign. ‘As far as I’m concerned the movie is not about race,’ she says. ‘It’s a love story, and it’s about a woman finding her place in the world, struggling with her identity, which is universal. There were some short-sighted decisions made about reducing the capacity for the movie’s reach, [but] just because you’re the lead doesn’t mean you get approval over the poster.’
In the film, Noni’s pushy, single ‘momager’ is played to perfection by Minnie Driver. By contrast, Gugu’s mum, nurse Anne Raw, was wary of showbusiness and insisted her daughter complete her education before pursuing acting. On the other hand, Gugu says: ‘I am an only child, so I relate to the intensity of that single-parent, mother-daughter relationship.’
She was born in Oxford in 1983 and her parents split the following year. Her South African father Patrick Mbatha, a doctor, lives in Shropshire and they remain close. But Gugu grew up in Witney, where she occasionally crossed paths with the local MP, David Cameron. ‘He used to turn on the Christmas lights, and I once saw him in Waterstones,’ she says. ‘He came and talked at my school long before he was Prime Minister.’
At RADA, Gugu’s contemporaries included Ben Whishaw, Tom Hiddleston and Andrea Riseborough, all former nominees for the Rising Star gong. Shortly after graduation, she was Juliet to Andrew Garfield’s Romeo at the Manchester Royal Exchange, when they were both 22. The last time she ran into The Amazing Spider-Man star, she says, was at the Met Ball in New York.
After a few years in small roles on the likes of Spooks and Doctor Who, in 2009 Gugu landed the part of Ophelia in a Donmar Warehouse production of Hamlet, opposite Jude Law. The show attracted mixed reviews but blockbuster audiences, and soon transferred to Broadway. She’s worked in the US ever since. ‘I never said, “Right, I’m going to crack Hollywood.” At RADA my aspirations ended at the Donmar and the Royal Court and the National Theatre,’ she says. ‘But I just started getting work here.’
Costume drama: Gugu with Sarah Gordon in Belle (2013)Her rising-star status was cemented by her performance as the title character in Belle, which saw her named Best Actress at last year’s British Independent Film Awards. The story of a mixed-race aristocrat who pursues love and the end of the slave trade in 18th-century London, Belle won one important American admirer: Oprah Winfrey, who championed the film in the US. They often email. ‘Oprah is a wonderful fairy godmother,’ she says.
For now, home is Gugu’s apartment in West Hollywood, although she tends to hang out in hip Los Feliz or Silver Lake, and regularly takes advantage of the city’s open spaces, such as Griffith Park or Malibu Canyon. ‘I love to go hiking. There’s a lot of concrete in LA, and I come from the Shires, so it’s important for me to get back in touch with nature.’
She gravitates to greenery whenever she’s back in London, too. ‘One of my favourite places is Hampstead Heath,’ she says. ‘When I first moved to London I lived in Highgate and I would walk on the Heath at the weekends and go to the Kenwood House coffee shop.’
After shooting twisty courtroom thriller The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves in New Orleans last year, she’s about to return to the Big Easy for The Free State of Jones, based on a true story from the American Civil War, with Matthew McConaughey. ‘I’m thrilled, because I love period dramas, and for a long time, being biracial, I wasn’t necessarily going to turn up on Downton Abbey,’ she says. ‘But yesterday I had my first costume fitting, and there I am — back in a corset!’
It makes a change from her last gig, playing Will Smith’s wife in the NFL whistleblower drama Concussion. During one gruelling day on the film’s Pittsburgh set: ‘We were shooting a club scene and the extras had to dance to the same song for eight hours,’ Gugu recalls. ‘Everyone was exhausted, so Will jumped up on the decks and started doing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air song, and everybody sang along. It wasn’t egotistical; it was a morale booster. You spend any time around Will Smith and you learn how to be a movie star.’
It’s a lesson that she’s about to find very useful indeed.
Portraits by Steve Schofield
Cast your vote for the EE Rising Star at ee.co.uk/bafta