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Springboard: Natalia Tena on ‘10,000 KM,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and How Sex Scenes are ‘Language with Action’

Springboard: Natalia Tena on '10,000 KM,' 'Game of Thrones' and How Sex Scenes are 'Language with Action'

READ MORE: SXSW Review: ‘Long Distance’ Is an Insightful, Moving Romance For the Technology Age

Editor’s Note: Indiewire’s Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in film worthy of your attention.

There are only two actors and two locations in “10,000 KM.” The first scene, a long take, lasts 25 minutes. Yet, incredibly, the film never feels claustrophobic. In fact, Carlos Marqués-Marcet’s feature-length directorial debut serves as a microcosm for the large implications of modern love. 

“10,000 KM” is an intimate portrait of the dissolution of a long-distance relationship. When Alex (Natalia Tena) accepts a fellowship in LA, she leaves behind her boyfriend of seven years, Sergio (David Verdaguer), in Barcelona. Through the fragmented lens of technology — Skype, text messages, emails, and Facebook — we become privy to the couple’s frustrations and conflicting needs and desires. Because we stand inside the very medium that divides them, we’re given an eye-opening perspective into the insular world they create — and that every couple creates — for themselves.   

Natalia Tena began her career as Ellie in Chris and Paul Weitz’s “About a Boy.” Since then, she’s embodied the larger-than-life Tonks in the “Harry Potter” movie adaptations, the riotous, mud-soaked Osha in “Game of Thrones” and various other dynamic female characters. Indiewire sat down with Tena to discuss the unique language of the sex scene, her hopes for her character in “Game of Thrones,” and why she avoids long-distance communication.

I love the fact that this movie is centered around a woman being the one that leaves for a career. My character’s boyfriend is the person that stays at home and wants to have a baby and family. That’s something that’s usually reversed in most films. In real life, I’ve got some male friends that are more interested in being at home. And I know some women that are infinitely more career-driven. In this movie, it’s just two people that really love each other. They are two different people and an opportunity arises for one of them.

My character is sexual, and not the way that women are usually portrayed sexually in films. She just has a sexual life that’s hers and independent. It’s incredibly great. It’s how most films should portray women. That’s the right angle. 

Sex scenes are a language with action. Someone pregnant from production came in and we were like, “Yes!” We asked her what the sex is like that you have when you’re having sex to actually make a baby. We asked her loads of individual questions and she was absolutely happy to help. That really helped the language of it. It is a different kind of sex. It might be very sexy but it’s also a bit scary, actually. She talked about the fact that even if you do want the baby, she had moments after that she was like, “Oh, my god!” A real freak-out, actually. The other big sex scene goes wrong because the distance is pronounced and she can’t connect. It is just broken. You can’t fix a relationship with sex. You can’t fix it with the one thing that we’ve been missing all this time, because it’s been broken on another level that sex can’t heal, which is quite scary. 

I would love for Osha, my character on “Game of Thrones,” to become queen.
 I don’t mind that the show is diverging from the books. I read the fifth book when it came out, which is a while ago now. I loved Season 5. I thought it was absolutely compelling. I was riveted. I binge-watched it over a weekend. There are a lot of characters that have been melded into one and some characters that have been taken out and given to someone else. The reason you need to do that when you adapt is because, if you try to put in too many characters, people lose interest. They don’t follow the story onscreen because you’re switching too much. In a book you can do that.

Usually, women are portrayed so stereotypically in films because they’re written by white men. There are mothers, prostitutes and secretaries and it’s important that they’re represented in films because they’re all characters, but it’s a constant thing we’re pigeon-holed into. We need writers of different ethnicities and genders. Until you change that, you’re still going to get stories about white men. It’s just boring only because we’ve had a lot of it.

It’s annoying that other than just trying to be good at your job, you’re also judged by your looks and your age, whereas a man is just not. It’s just not the same principle and it’s very frustrating. I’m 30 now and I’m getting scripts for 35-year-olds. It’s like, “Why are you trying to get younger women to play older women? Why don’t you just get a 35-year old?” That’s also saturating society with an image that that’s what a 35-year-old looks like; it’s fucking not.

Obviously “Mad Max” is amazing, but the pregnant woman in that  I don’t believe that she’s pregnant. But obviously something like that is sci-fi and is meant to have a look, and I can kind of excuse it, but it still fucks me off. For example, “The Killing” is an incredible, incredible Danish TV series. Why did they have to remake it in America? Oh yeah, so they can get loads of fit people in it. What’s amazing about the Danish version is that she’s an attractive woman, but she’s not a model. I can believe that she’s that character. I believed every single actor in that, so why beautify it? It makes it more fake for me. It also is bad for the images of all the women in the world.

I’ve never used Skype because I think it’s worse to see the person.
 I think if you’re having a sexual relationship, you need to smell and touch them. It just makes you miss them more and it makes the distance more pronounced if you Skype. I’m in a band called Molotov Jukebox, and my guitarist was having a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend. I saw how difficult it was for that period that they were apart. With my bloke, I write emails and send him, “What’s up?” I don’t talk to him because it would make it harder. I’d rather be present where I am. 

“10,000 KM” is in theaters and available on-demand starting 7/10.

READ MORE: Watch: Exclusive Clip From ‘10,000 KM’ Shares a Tender Moment

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