Nadia Parkes

British actress Nadia Parkes tackles the eternal question of “good” versus “evil” in Netflix’s new fantasy hit The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself.

Nadia Parkes is no stranger to highly anticipated television shows. After graduating from London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the British actress kickstarted her career with a one episode arc on Doctor Who. She then booked the recurring role of Rosa de Vargas in The Spanish Princess, Sophie in Starstruck, and Young Livia in Domina. While she’s often found portraying tales with historical premises, her latest role as Annalise in Netflix’s The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself  returns her to her much deserved spot of female lead and the 21st century, if not back in the real world.

Released just in time to engage those eager to partake in the Halloween season, the streaming platform’s newest fantasy venture centers around three teenage witches, their fight against destiny, and the civil war brewing between the Fairborn and Blood Witch tribes. Based on Sally Green’s novel, Half Bad, the television adaptation is filled with angst, growing pains, young love, and, of course, magic. While plenty of imagination was required during the filming process, for Nadia it was a step back into reality. For once, she was not required to wear a corset or banned from her phone. As Annalise, she not only finds herself at the helm of the project, but also breathes life into a heroine not often found in YA media. Yes, there is a romance central to Annalise’s story, but it only serves to supplement the journey of personal growth and self-discovery, the courageous young woman goes on over the eight episodes.

1883’s Sydney Bolen chats with Nadia Parkes about the new TV adaptation, what makes Annalise such an interesting female lead, her love for Sophia Loren, and more.

 

I absolutely loved the show. I think it’s so well done. I’m a big fan of Netflix Geeked and their fantasy content, so it was all right up my alley. I’m excited for everybody else to get to see it.

Me too. I’m so excited for it to be handed over.

 

To start us off, I was wondering, if you were a Fairborn or Blood Witch, which power would you want to gain on your giving day?

I think Annalise’s power is definitely the most powerful, but if I could choose one from the show, I would choose shapeshifting as my power. I think if it was any power up for grabs, even one that we don’t see in the show, I’d stop time.

 

 

Oh, that’s a good one.

Yeah, I was really bad at exams in school. I used to dream of being able to stop the exam, go look at the cleverest person’s test, and then go back to my desk. [laughs] I just fantasize about being able to stop time. You know when you’re in one of the most amazing moments – like you’re looking at a really beautiful sunset or something – and you just want to stay there for like a little bit longer? I think stopping time would be such a cool superpower.

 

That’s a really good one. I like it. Like a lot of fantasy content, the show is based on the book series. Did you read it prior to filming or did you stick to the script?

I actually had a conversation with the director, Colm McCarthy, about whether or not to read them before filming. We decided that because the show is a kind of spiritual adaptation of these novels, there was a lot in the books that might lead me down a wrong path.  The story differs so much from the book to the show. Additionally, I just feel like Joe Barton’s writing is so brilliant and so bold, and interesting. I didn’t want to read anything that might send me down a wrong path. But, after I wrapped I went on holiday with my mom and I read the first book. It was really interesting to read all the differences and find a few of the similarities. I did actually enjoy reading the book after I’d done the whole filming process.

 

Yeah. I think that’s what it’ll be like for me because now that I’m done with the show,  I want to read the novels. 

It’d be really cool if there was a whole group of people that found themselves reading the book after.

 

I guarantee these books will skyrocket after the show comes out. It happened with The Witcher. It happened with Shadow and Bone. People want the content. 

Sally Green [Author] will be able to buy a holiday home. 

 

Exactly. You mentioned Annalise is quite different from the books, but for people that maybe aren’t fans of the original material, or have never heard of the show, tell me a little bit about your character.

Annalise is a fun, mischievous, smart, interesting young woman, who is the daughter of the head hunter of the Fairborn Council. Because of this, she’s been brought up with very strict views about what’s good and what’s bad when it comes to Fairborn Witches and Blood Witches. On her first day of school in a new place, she meets Nathan [Jay Lycurgo]. Even though they come from different upbringings and worlds, they find a kindred spirit in each other causing Annalise to let go of everything she’s ever been taught and go on a quest for truth, what’s right ,and love. Along the way, she discovers a whole world that she didn’t really know was out there.

 

 

I think a lot of female viewers are going to like the character a lot and the ways that she adapts over the season.

Thank you. I think that’s because of Joe’s writing. He is so brilliant at writing characters who are such full, well-rounded human beings. It’s so amazing that I get to play a female lead who is so complex and not centered around who I fall in love with and how difficult that is. It becomes more about her growing up and coming of age as the story goes on.

 

She goes through a lot from the pilot to the finale. As an actor, there’s a lot of material that you have to sift through and deal with. What ways did you find to relate to the character? 

Well, it wasn’t a tough job because like I said, Joe Barton’s writing is just so unbelievably full and real. The fact that he can create this fantasy world that is so grounded in reality is such a treat to work with. All I needed to do was keep coming back to the text. I know what it feels like to be 16 and really fancy someone and not know if they fancy you and I know what it’s like to feel frightened. I just had to tap back into what it was like when I was at a point in my life where I was confused and trying to work everything out.

 

I love that inside this crazy fantasy world that has been built, the characters are just human beings.

They really are. I’m so glad you said that because I think there’s a part of the show, which I think offers an element to fantasy shows I’ve never really seen before. Yes, they do have magical powers and they get given them on their 17th birthday. But, sometimes that is the least interesting thing about them. What makes them more interesting is their relationships, their identities, and their questions about life.

 

I agree. Is there a piece of advice that you would give Annalise for the upcoming season?

I would say, “to question is to grow” or “keep questioning, girl.”

 

Oh, that’s a good one!

Do you know what? That is actually a lyric from ‘Proud’ by Heather Small. I’m so embarrassed that I know that. [both laugh]

 

I love that. 

That song really reminds me of my dad. It’s been with me throughout my childhood, so it’s at the front of my brain.

 

Amazing. I think it’s perfect advice in this situation. I love how close the cast of the show seems. Do you have a favorite moment from filming that you would like to share?

One of my favorite moments was Gabriel’s apartment in episode three when Nathan and Annalise meet him for the first time. It’s the first time for my character where she’s like, “Whoa, there is a whole world out there that I have never seen.” She’s never encountered someone like Gabriel because she’s come from such strictness and so much privilege. When we were shooting that sequence the three of us had such a laugh. We shot the whole sequence for like three days. The final moment was jumping out of the window. When they shouted cut, we got a round of applause for our leap. Honestly, I’ve never been so scared in my life. I thought I was going to die. The boys were really worried about me because the first time I did it as a rehearsal, I hit my feet on the bar. We were told that we had to get it on a run. I think the boys between themselves were like, “I’m really scared that Nadia is going to hit her head and die.” But, I did it extremely well. I don’t think going forward I’ll be a stunt woman.

 

No?

I think that takes a bit of skill that I’ve maybe not got.

 

Somebody else can do that for you. It’s fine. Based on your IMDb, aside from your Doctor Who episode, this is kind of your first foray into a full fantasy show. Everything else has been kind of historically grounded. Like we talked about with stunts, fantasy shows kind of come with their own set of challenges, such as the special effects that you have to deal with, especially once everyone’s powers come into play. How was that experience for you?

It was extremely rewarding to see it all put together in the end because there were moments where you’d be on set using your power and sometimes  you’d feel like a bit of a knob. [both laugh] It’s a really good imagination exercise actually. Somebody is describing behind the monitor what’s happening to your character. You have to implement your own storytelling for that moment. it was quite challenging, but it’s really beautiful to see in the final edit. Because it’s just so well done.

 

Yeah, I agree. I was shocked by the quality of the special effects to be honest.  How did filming this show differ from filming period pieces like Domina or The Spanish Princess?

Well, first of all, I wasn’t wearing a corset or a petticoat. That was a beautiful experience. I could nap. I could eat. I wasn’t restricted. It was actually so nice being able to wear jeans and a t- shirt everyday. But in all seriousness, it does come with its own challenges. When you’re doing period drama, you have to try and make a character super relatable in a world that we don’t know in this day and age. With Bastard Son, it’s about making it real in a world that we recognize doesn’t exist. In some ways, there’s the same challenge making it relatable to now and creating humans that we see every day in a world that we see everyday. But, I have to say there was something very freeing about playing Annalise, getting to sit at a table with my family, eating spaghetti bolognese, and use an iPhone and stuff like that. It’s quite nice to interact with things that I interact with everyday in a scene.

 

 

I get that. I read in a recent Vanity Fair interview that your biggest influence is Sophia Loren. What about her specifically do you seek to emulate?

She has this joy for life. I think she’s an incredibly talented woman. I think a lot of people idolize her because of her glamor and because of her talent. But my mom is a Scottish Italian. I grew up with a nan there that I looked up to every day. Sophia Loren has that Italian zest for life. There’s a quote of hers: Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.”  It’s beautiful because first of all, I love spaghetti and I love pasta. But second of all, what she’s saying is “it’s the simple things that can give us the most out of life like a plate of nice food or a conversation with someone you love.”

 

I love that quote. I’ve never heard that before. As you look to the future, is there a particular role you are dying to play?

I think it probably hasn’t been created yet. I really believe in all of this stuff being perfectly timed for where you’re at in your life at that moment, so I think a character that is my dream role probably hasn’t been created yet. Annalise was definitely a dream. I’d love to see myself do something quite weird and grotesque. In terms of what I’d quite like to play, I’d quite like to play somebody who is not nice to their core. Annalise is really kind hearted.

 

So, if you could be a different character in this show, you’d maybe be Jessica?

I think I would, yeah. Purely because there are points where she feels like the exact flip of Anneliese. I think playing the other side of it would be so, so interesting.

 

She’s a cool character too.

Yeah.

 

The last question is just a fun one. As The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself is set in the real world, what do you think would be on Annalise’s Spotify wrapped?

Oh my gosh, what an amazing question! Oh my gosh. I’ve never heard that. Incredible.

 

Oh, thank you. I like to end with kind of silly questions. I think it’s fun.

No, that’s great! I think Tyler the Creator would be top artists. I’m not a massive fan but she had a massive poster of him in her bedroom. Plus, Tyler the Creator always makes me think of Jay because he’s a massive fan, so I would say he reminds Annalise of Nathan.

 

The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself is streaming now on Netflix.

 

Interview Sydney Bolen

Photography Josh Shinner

Hair Davide Barbieri

Make-up Sara Hill

Styling Holly White

 

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