Natalie Zea on La Brea and How the Series Has a Pretty Big Gasp Moment - VRGyani News and Media

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Natalie Zea on La Brea and How the Series Has a Pretty Big Gasp Moment

From creator David Appelbaum, the NBC fantasy adventure series La Brea explores what happens when a massive sinkhole opens in the middle of Los Angeles, pulling hundreds of people into it and separating the Harris family. While Eve (Natalie Zea) and son Josh (Jack Martin) are in a strange and dangerous primeval land, Gavin (Eoin Macken) and daughter Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) are left searching for answers in the hopes of somehow finding a way to reunite.

During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, Zea talked about what convinced her to do this project, the physical challenges of playing an action hero, why she never wants to ask for answers that aren’t necessarily guaranteed, the mother-son relationship, demanding a costume change, and the amount of green screen they work with versus what they actually have on set to react to.

Collider: This pilot is wild and I can’t imagine how much crazier things are going to get. When this came your way and you learned about this opportunity to be a part of telling a story about a massive sinkhole that opens up and swallows part of Los Angeles into a prehistoric world, was it an immediate yes?

NATALIE ZEA: It wasn’t an immediate, yes. I had never really considered this particular genre, or this action hero kind of woman. I thought, after The Detour, I was just gonna keep doing comedy and I was going to retire in my 90s, being some sort of distiller. My husband pointed out to me that there’s a finite window for action and that he didn’t want me to feel as though I had missed out on something, and why not take this huge leap and go for it. So, I did, and I ended up in Australia for six months doing a lot of running and jumping and making these great friendships with my fellow castmates.

By the time you got to the end of the season for this, how did it feel to be do this kind of show? What were the biggest surprises for you, in taking on something like this?

ZEA: Weirdly, I didn’t realize how much running was gonna be involved. It should be very obvious. I’ve been doing this for 20-plus years, so shame on me, but I was like, “Oh, you mean, we’re gonna do more than one take, where I have to run really fast and really hard?” There were sensations in my legs that I had never felt before. I was like, “I’m in shape. What’s happening?” It’s a different kind of running than being on a treadmill. You’re running for your life, and let me tell you, it’s intense on the thighs. So, while I was like, “Yeah, let’s do action and be this superhero,” the practical elements that are involved in that are no joke. I really tried to get into shape before I left for Australia because I knew that once we got there, there would be a limited amount of time to do that, and I was right. But man, I never felt more out of shape than on take three or four of just running back and forth.

How much, at any given time, did you know about where things were going or why things were happening? Are you someone who asks a lot of questions, or do you prefer not to know?

ZEA: I never ask because I learned really early on that, to the fault of no one really, most of the time, the answers are untrue. Not because they’re lies, but because they change so much. The network gets involved and says, “No, we want this to go this way. We want this person’s storyline over here.” Things shift and move around. Really early on, after getting a little disappointed, early in my career, when things didn’t happen the way I was told they were gonna be happening, I just decided to be surprised once I opened the script, so I didn’t know a lot. There were rumblings because a lot of my fellow cast mates are not that way. They would wanna get information, so they would glean stuff from the creators. I would hear rumblings from them and be like, “Oh, you don’t say? Okay, well, we’ll see if that actually happens.” And sometimes it did, and sometimes it didn’t, but I was very much in the dark a lot of the time.

RELATED: Watch a Massive Sinkhole Destroy L.A. in the First Five Minutes of NBC's 'La Brea'

Then how many times throughout the season where you just completely shocked at what the answers turned out to be?

ZEA: There was one thing that I would have been really shocked about, if I hadn’t heard rumors about it on set. And you’ll know what it is when you watch it because it’s a pretty big gasp moment. I was upset that people were talking about it because I would have loved to have read it and been like, “What!?,” but I found out pretty early on. Chik√© [Okonkwo] who plays Ty, knows all the things, so he whisper it to me. I’d be like, “Spoilers! I don’t wanna know.”

Do you feel like you’re at a place now, with where things go in the season, that you’d be able to see where Season 2 could go?

ZEA: I’ll just ask my castmates and they’ll tell me. They’ve given me some hints, here and there, about what their storylines are supposed to be, so I could cobble together something.

We get to see Eve’s relationship with her son, since she gets separated from the other half of her family. How will this experience affect their relationship and how much is it going to evolve, over the season?

ZEA: There’s a real push-pull element there. In the very first few seconds of the pilot, both of the children confront her about her helicopter tendencies. The desire is there for her to curb that behavior, but then, when you’re in a situation where danger is lurking, literally around every corner, and you have your child to protect, there’s such an internal conflict of, do I do that thing I know I’m supposed to do, or do I do the thing that I know I have to do? Those two things are in conflict, and she doesn’t know what the right answer is, except to just protect her son at all costs. You’ll see the back and forth that they share, involving all of that.

How odd is it to be part of an ensemble where you aren’t really even able to do scenes, at least at this point, with whoever didn’t fall into the sinkhole?

ZEA: It’s strange. Another one of the reasons I wanted to do this job is because I thought that because it was divided up into two worlds, it would be good because I’d get some time off and be able to explore Australia. That didn’t happen. What we ended up doing was shooting two units most of the time. There was what we’d call upstairs and downstairs, and a lot of those things were happening on the same day. It made it very weird because on the very rare day off, I would come into work the next day and be like, “If I wasn’t here, what were you guys doing?” And the answer was always that they were doing upstairs. So, yeah, it was strange because it felt like we were shooting two different shows. And they were definitely shooting a very different show. They were indoors a lot. They got to change clothes. They were warm. They got to talk a lot. We were outside in the elements, running and panting, and wearing the same thing every day. It was two very separate experiences.

Did you ever try to come up with ways to find a reason where you could have a wardrobe change?

ZEA: Oh, I demanded a costume change. When we were doing wardrobe fittings for the pilot, it was like, “Okay, I’m gonna be stuck in this potentially forever, so it has to be very comfortable.” And then, we ended up shooting in a location where the climate wasn’t conducive to what we had all chosen to wear. So, I, for one, raise my hand and said, “I need a coat.”

How is this show to shoot? How much are you reacting to things that aren’t there versus how much you actually get practical surroundings?

ZEA: It was almost all practical. Obviously not the primeval animals, but even those were costumed people, wearing a blue or green head-to-toe suit with their faces covered. It’s the equivalent of a green screen, but a body suit, so that we would have something that had motion and a presence. It was no more acting to nothing than any other thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes actors have to go and you just play to the air. Although with this show, nobody had anywhere to go, so that never happened.

It’s just funny because you can’t possibly have anything to compare this type of experience to.

ZEA: Yeah, and we could be reacting way too big or way too small. We don’t know. Hopefully, we were all consistent with our reactions.

I feel like you probably can’t be reacting too big when it comes to this kind of a situation.

ZEA: That’s what we thought. There’s no such thing as too much.

La Brea airs on Tuesday nights on NBC.



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