Fish Tank: Katie Jarvis
17 year-old Katie Jarvis was discovered having a blazing row with her boyfriend at a train station, and has gone on to give a phenomenal performance as Essex girl Mia in director Andrea Arnold’s Cannes Jury prize winning, Fish Tank. We caught up with Jarvis to talk attitude, acting and babies…
LOVEFiLM: Have you been surprised by the amount of success the film has has so far this year?
Katie Jarvis: Yeah, it is a little bit unreal I think. I’m still getting used to everything. It’s like a mad rush.
LF: Lots of the press have been talking about the story of how you were discovered…
LF: Is that true?
KJ: (Laughs). Yeah it is true.
LF: That story is probably going to haunt you for the rest of your life now…
KJ: Yes it is. I was arguing with my boyfriend at Tilbury train station. I got on the train and then I jumped off at Upminster and then I was getting chased by a talent scout called Lucy. She said that she seen me arguing at the train station and explained everything. I didn’t believe her, because I thought this isn’t real.. (Laughs)
LF: What was the audition process like? Did Andrea explain much about the film to you?
KJ: No I didn’t really know much about the film. All I knew was that it was a film based in Essex about a young girl. One of the auditions was a dancing one, which I was a little nervous about ‘cause I’ve never done dancing before. But I got through that one alright (laughs) and then they phoned me on my 17th birthday to say I had the part. I was really surprised.
LF: And how did you feel when you actually started shooting the film?
KJ: It was amazing. It didn’t sink in at first. On the first dayI was really camera shy and sort of never thought I’d be able to do something like that. But I sort of stuck my head right into it and just forgot the camera was there.
LF: You’re on camera pretty much the whole time…
KJ: Yeah that’s why I thought I’ve gotta do this. I just got right into it, threw myself into it. It still didn’t kick in at the end I don’t think. It finally hit me after it had all been put together and was released in Cannes and then Edinburgh. That’s when it started hitting home.
LF: What do your friends think?
KJ: They think it’s crazy. They’re all like, “aw I know that girl, I know that girl.” (Laughs) And I’m like (whispering), "oh my God”…
LF: Fish Tank is a complicated film. It’s unforgiving and upsetting in places. What were the most difficult scenes for you?
KJ: There were two in the film that I found the most difficult. One of them was the scene with the two travelers - when they were attacking Mia - and the other one I was nervous about was the sex scene with Michael Fassbender.I think the reason why I was most nervous about the one with the travelers was because beforehand they were method acting, so I didn’t actually know that they were really nice people because they were being horrible to me. But the sex scene with Michael I think was the one that was a bit nerve racking for me. Andrea did let me know beforehand admittedly, she did make me aware that it was nothing too in-depth and we would both be fully clothed so that’s why I said ok. When it come to it Andrea and Michael were great. What helped me a little bit was the fact that Michael is a fully- grown man and I thought in my head even though he’s got a lot more experience, at the same time it must be nerve racking for him because I was only 17, but he just turned it into a laugh and a joke and made it funny for me.
LF: What was it like working with Andrea? It’s quite a unique way of shooting as you didn’t always see the script?
KJ: Sometimes we got it [the script] on the Friday before but sometimes we’d get the day before or on the day, and so I didn’t actually know what was coming up really.
LF: Did you like working in that way?
KJ: In some ways I did, because it was exciting, in other ways I didn’t. Andrea wanted to keep it all secret; she didn’t want none of the actors or actresses to see the rushes, until the film was all put together.
LF: You’ve got to really trust someone to do that haven’t you?
KJ: I loved everybody to do with the filming but Andrea definitely, she was sort of like a second mum.I don’t think I’d become that close with anyone again. I trusted her and at the same time I think she must have really trusted me, knowing that I’d never done nothing like that.
LF: What do you think of your character Mia? Do you sympathize with her or do you get frustrated with her?
KJ: I do have a bit of sympathy for her, ‘cause even though sometimes you can tell she’s a right bitch there are times you feel sorry for her. She’s got a horrible relationship with her mum, she’s confused whether to take Michael as a father figure or if he’s something more than that. I think Mia’s quite an unhappy teenager; she only smiles twice in the film.
LF: Have you got the acting bug now?
KJ: Yeah I’d love to do more. I’ve been sent a lot of things and been offered a few things. But where I’ve just had the baby, I’ve been looking after her because she’s still tiny. I think I’m just waiting for the right thing to come up now and then I’ll be jumping back into it.
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