Meet the ‘lady we hate because she is temporarily keepin the people w the symmetrical faces from bein together’
Cliché is everywhere, an inescapable product of our reality – it’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. It’s particularly prominent in Hollywood – audiences feel comfortable kinda knowing what’s coming next, and being able to understand and love or hate characters for no better reason than they’ve met them before.
To that end, in 2016, Natalie Walker began her thread of now-viral fake auditions for women’s roles that technically don’t exist, but similarly also totally do, all posted on her Twitter. My personal favourite is her latest work, “my audition to be in a movie as lady who is married to the great white man who is solving racism forever all by himself”.
On account of watching these clips over and over again, transfixed by their accuracy, we decided to contact Natalie to ask her about what she actually loves about the movies, the reactions to her thread, and...why? Read what she had to say and watch all her clips now.
What inspired you to start this thread? Was there one pivotal moment in a film where you thought "fuck this" I need to make fun of this?
Natalie Walker: There was an Oscars party a friend had a few years ago where we all went in costume as nominated films and my friends Katie and Will went in British vintage-y clothes and told people they were both The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, which really put that first trope in my mind, so that’s where the catch-all “you will get through this/you are extraordinary” came from. And I finally decided to film it on a night where I was walking home from a reading I had done of a bad play after a failed audition I had done for a bad play and I was in despair and anger and just thinking “I know I have something to offer and why am I killing myself to not get parts that I could play in my sleep”? And I have always responded to my own despair and anger by trying to make people laugh, because if I can make someone laugh, then I’ve changed something about a situation. Even if I don’t feel better, at least someone else does.
Who are your most and least favourite characters in film?
Natalie Walker: I’ll give five I love and one I hate, because contrary to what the thread might have you believe, I like to celebrate more than I like to tear down. They change all the time, but a few favorite characters that stick out to me now are Emily in The Devil Wears Prada, Georgina in Get Out, Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act (great movie) and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (greater movie), Margo Channing in All About Eve, and Crystal Allen in The Women.
My least favourite is Rachel McAdams’ character in Midnight in Paris, which is no fault of hers – she’s one of our most versatile and consistently great actresses and deserves better and I could write an essay on that alone – I just felt Woody Allen’s utter contempt for women oozing out of every frame she was in.
You say that you still want to work in film or be on the screen. If it's so cliched and contrived...why?
Natalie Walker: I do not have any marketable skills and I would like to be given money as a reward for that incompetence. Also, I think it’s improving! The more opportunities there are for women in the writers room/behind the camera, the better opportunities there will be for women in front of it. Finally, I will say – I don’t think cliché is inherently bad! I think there are well-worn tropes that are actually a lot of fun; for example, the RomCom Bitch Girlfriend character (unsurprisingly the character most often written by women) is generally my favourite character in whatever movie she’s in, because I find it so cathartic to watch an actress be completely untethered to societal constraints of female likability. Please let me play that character! I will Parker Posey all over your You’ve Got Mail !
Do you base your cliched roles on particular people or is it an instinctive grasp of general malaise in script writing?
Natalie Walker: For the most part, it’s a general malaise – I’m an early MoviePass adopter, so I see entirely too many movies and my mind is a labyrinthine hellscape of things that have irked me in all of them.
Everyone loves your thread. What does that say about the state of film today and are you surprised?
Natalie Walker: I think it says that we have more access to content than ever before, with MoviePass and Netflix, and with that increased access/consumption comes a higher awareness of antiquated, reductive representations of women; that awareness creates a greater desire to both see and do better, and if that desire can manifest itself in a way that makes people laugh instead of just scream into the void, all the better. I think there’s also an element to it of people enjoying the nonexistent “production values” of the videos in contrast to the big-budget movies at which they take aim; it makes the endeavor feel very David vs. Goliath.
You're a talented, funny actor. Do you have a background in drama?
Natalie Walker: Oh, 1000 per cent. I wish I was some kind of neophyte prodigy, but I am a dyed-in-the-wool theatre nerd. I grew up doing musicals and am legitimately the villain of a book about my theatre camp; then I went to NYU Tisch to study drama at the Stella Adler Studio and become a very serious actress. Obviously that plan is going amazingly for me and I have several Oscars and did not spend several days last week with $57 to my name.
How much work goes into each clip?
Natalie Walker: Once I have the trope idea, the writing happens very quickly, but the ideas take a while, because I don’t like to force myself to come up with something – it’s gotta be a character archetype with a sound bite sticking out in my mind; people love to submit their own trope requests, which is fun, but if you’re not paying me, I’m not a free content vending machine. You don’t get to place orders! You will take the stale SunChips stuck in the compartment or go hungry. I usually find that the longer, more text-heavy ones actually take less time because I’m like, “oh Jesus well in that one I said all the words in roughly the right order so that’s good enough”; the one-line ones I agonise over. “Is this eyebrow raise on ‘the Force’ correct or should it be the lip quiver?”, et cetera.
If you could have played anyone in an existing film, who would it be?
Natalie Walker: I would have been very good as Tobey Maguire’s part in The Great Gatsby. For example, at the very end of the movie, he is shown typing “GATSBY” in the title page for his manuscript, then taking a pen and writing “THE GREAT” above it. If I had played that part, because I am very smart and savvy, I would have written “THE GREATER”, thereby leaving the door open for a possible sequel. Greater than whom? Is there a Greater Gatsby? Now the audience has been teased with the promise of an expanded Gatsby universe. I thought there was a lot of franchise potential in that movie and I find it unfortunate Tobey blew this obvious chance. I also should have been Johnny Depp’s part in the Fantastic Beasts movies because I am a good weird actor but I do not abuse women. It seems like Hollywood does not know we exist.
Hollywood is loaded with cliche. Your thread is a particularly observant take on the roles afforded to women in cinema - do you think men suffer the same fate on screen?
Natalie Walker: Oh, no. Not at all. And any time a movie even gets close to that, you get some some sort of uproar about how none of the men were well-rounded characters – or worse, the movies that don’t really cater to/center men don’t get seen enough at all for people to have reductive male roles become widely recognized tropes. I think if you look at any list compiled of the “Greatest Film Characters of All Time”, you’ll see how much work there is to be done as far as course-correcting the ship goes.