Interview | Natalia Tena Talks Technology And Long-Distance Romance

The Game Of Thrones actress on her new film '10,000 km' and playing in a gypsy band.

John Gaudiosiby John Gaudiosi

Actress Natalia Tena has had the good fortune to see her career span two pop culture phenomenon. She played Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter films and she played Osha in Game of Thrones – a character who’s still alive in the story, although she hasn’t been present in the last two seasons. While fans speculate on whether Osha will return to the series in Season 6, they can catch Tena in the new theatrical release, 10,000 km.

Also: Comic-Con 2015: Game of Thrones Panel Report

Tena plays Alexandra in the film, which explores how technology can actually ruin a relationship for a couple that’s never spent time apart and is then forced into a long-distance Los Angeles-to-Barcelona relationship. Tena offers her own take on technology’s role in communicating, discusses life on the road as the lead singer of Molotov Jukebox, and discusses Game of Thrones in this exclusive interview.

What attracted you to 10,000 km?

I have a band – Molotov Jukebox – and I didn’t know anything about Skype all these years. I’d never even heard of it, and my bandmate had a long-distance relationship. So when I got the script I suddenly realized that a lot of people live with these kinds of obstacle that they need to overcome to love each other. That’s what drew me because I understood it.

What are your thoughts about the role technology plays in relationships today?

Every single relationship is different. There are some people who meet online, for example, and so their relationship is built on an online basis. Whereas other people maybe have been together for seven years and – like 10,000 km – and they’ve never spent a day apart, so when technology comes in it’s almost like a third wheel that’s in between their love.

What do you feel people who’ve grown up with smartphones and Skype from day one are missing out when it comes to human interaction that older people understand?

There seem to be certain things that are added to every generation. It’s a tough question. My main problem with technology is that people immediately always want to take pictures. Like for example I saw a guy get hit by a bus and everyone just took a picture of him rather than ringing the ambulance. And that’s just absolutely f**king insane.  So that kind of culture is pretty strange, but I’m sure it’s got its advantages. I’m just not in that generation. I just missed it age-wise, but it still is there.

Natalia1-CR

What role does technology play in your life personally?

Well, basically a year ago I decided to get involved with Facebook and Twitch to help get the band out there in a different way.

Do you have any type of technology device that you can’t live without today?

I suppose my phone. That’s all I use really. I’ve got a really bad computer and I watch films and shows on it. I don’t have a TV. And my headphones.

Virtual reality is starting to become a reality. How do you think VR might have helped the characters in 10,000 km?

I don’t know. People who watch this film might find it to be quite dated because of the technology. It’s really mad. I don’t really know much about VR but I’m going to look it up after my conversation with you because that’s actually quite interesting.

Game of Thrones even did a VR experience for San Diego Comic Con where you get to ride up the elevator of the wall.

Wow. That’s pretty special. I’m sure it makes lots of people happy.

How do you feel the fan bases you’ve established with the Harry Potter films and Game of Thrones show impact attracting attention to film projects like 10,000 km?

Game of Thrones has been amazing with the doors that it’s opened. It’s amazing that people give you the opportunity to potentially do your job well, hopefully.

Is it pretty easy for you to spot the Harry Potter fan from the Game of Thrones fan?

Yeah. It’s just their outfits, really. They come dressed up.

Have you noticed a lot of crossover from going from the one big franchise to the other?

I’m not sure. With Molotov Jukebox there’s a crossover from some of these fans to actually coming to our shows.  It’s amazing to see that.

Natalia3-CR

As someone who’s an actress and also a lead singer in a band. Why do you think so many people want to be a rock star?

I’m not a rock star. We don’t play rock. I play classical gypsy music and my aim is to help people to get laid at the end of the night and dance and forget their worries. I think maybe a lot of people see this as a lifestyle choice. And it is amazing and great to make people dance and happy and forget their worries for a while. But at the same time it does take a huge amount of work and discipline and practice to be in a band. And having those relationships is quite hard to find the right combination of people. We’ve gone through so many musicians in my band, so there are all those things people don’t really see. They just see the glamour side of it.

How do you balance the band life with television and film work?

That’s really hard. I do it because I’ve got an incredibly patient and hardworking team around, including my American and English agents. And then the band has been great. I can find out I got an acting job tomorrow. It’s bittersweet if I get a tour with the band or an acting job because it means I’m going to have to sacrifice other things for the other one, and that’s always a bid sad.

But at the same time like you had mentioned when you do have a hit show or hit movie, all of a sudden there are new people that want to go see you sing.

Exactly. That’s the thing. There is a payoff.  Sometimes it’s a kind of long-term payoff rather than an immediate one. 

Have you guys ever performed at a Comic Con type event where you know your fan base is going to be at?

We did one once in the Czech Republic where there was a big, massive festival, but not usually. That’s a different kind of crossover and I’m not sure that we are ready for that because it’s such a different atmosphere at a Comic Con. The gig we played in the Czech Republic is a massive festival with a giant stage and there’s a convention that’s part of it, but it wasn’t exactly a Comic Con convention.

Has it helped you playing Osha in Game of Thrones where you’re constantly muddy and less recognizable than Kit Harington in public?

Yes, I’m happy with that. That’s great. I don’t want to be recognized.

That camouflage works to your advantage.

Yeah. It’s very different. I’m very different in real life, I think.

When it comes to Game of Thrones one of the big things about that show is that everyone gets to die on screen at some point.  Your character hasn’t done that yet.

Let’s just see what happens.

Natalia4-CR

Regardless of whether or not your character is coming back, have you ever thought of how you’d like to die?

I have a few options in mind. I have a few suggestions I could give them, but I want to keep that secret just in case it would actually happen.

There haves been rumors that Season 6 will focus heavily on your character and Rickon Stark.  Has that resulted in any kind of phone calls yet from your agents?

I can’t tell you. That’s a secret. We have to wait and see.

What was it like to be away from the show for a full two seasons?

It was sad. But I still got to see the cast, so luckily I had contact with them.

Who was more fun for you to play Nymphadora or Osha?

I think I like Osha more.

Was there a particular reason that you like her more?

I just liked that she has more to do and it’s more fun. I get to kill people.

What’s it been like watching the last two seasons of Game of Thrones as a fan?

It’s more enjoyable because I actually don’t have to think about when my face is going to come on.

You don’t like seeing your face on the TV?

Yeah, it’s not as much fun to watch yourself. That’s why in 10,000 km I find it really hard because it’s mostly me and David (Verdaguer) on screen, there’s no respites.

And there’s no mud or camouflage. It’s you guys.

Yeah. Exactly. It’s almost too intimate that it can make you embarrassed watching it, like you’re the fly in the room. I hope people still can enjoy it.

What was it like filming that movie?

I was lucky because David is actually an amazing human, and he made me laugh so much. If it would have been a different kind of actor, it would have been different.

What do you feel your Game of Thrones fan base will like about this movie, since it is very different from anything you’ve done before?

I don’t know. That’s a tricky question to answer because a lot of people are familiar with long-distane relationships, whether it’s a parent or a friend or a lover. We do live now in a world where a lot of relationships are torn apart by circumstances.