Canada’s Natalie Charles works alongside Kim Cattrall on HBO’s hit ‘Sensitive Skin’
For Natalie Charles, there is no greater sense of satisfaction than truly embodying her character, becoming someone else, and learning a new aspect of humanity. Acting, for this Canadian native, is a sense of release, a chance for both catharsis and escape, while educating and entertaining her audience.
“There is no place to hide when your face is on screen. The camera won’t lie for you, so you better be absolutely certain of what and who you are portraying. The audience becomes familiar with the character and can know what is happening simply by looking at the performers face. It’s exhilarating,” she said.
Throughout her esteemed career, Charles has shown audiences time and time again why she is such an in-demand actress in both her home country and abroad. Captivating audiences in iconic television series Suits alongside Duchess Meghan Markle, as well as the award-winning Mary Kills People and the acclaimed film Residue, Charles is a force to be reckoned with.
Charles often works alongside top-tier talent, and her role on Sensitive Skin is no different. Starring Kim Cattrall and Don McKellar, the show follows Davina and Al who try to revamp their lives as they struggle with the uncertainties of middle age. Struggling with the uncertainty of middle age, Davina must make decisions about her future and the future of the marriage. Starting over is not easy at any age. When Davina attempts to 'find her voice' she encounters Carol, played by Charles, who knows her voice and has distinct ideas on how to use it.
“You don’t have to be going through a divorce to experience those ‘change of life questions.’ You reach a certain point and all of a sudden you find yourself taking stock. The ‘what the hell have I been doing’ question comes up and smacks you in the face. I wanted to see that honestly portrayed on screen,” said Charles.
Charles’ character was one of the women in the 'voice class' who was uncertain what was happening. Carol is a pain in the butt, according to Charles. She was there to have a certain experience and did not take kindly to it not being provided. She was not aggressive or mean spirited, quite the contrary. Unfortunately, her idea of the class was not the actual reason for it being offered. She chose to go along with the program in hopes that by the end, she would get what she signed up for and was not thrilled when discovered otherwise. She was remarkably comedic in her determination to get what she wanted.
“Have you ever wanted something but were told you can’t have it. Then ignored whomever told you so, only to be blessed with exactly what you wanted? Walking onto this set was that experience,” said Charles.
Sensitive Skin premiered on HBO Canada for two seasons and was an instant classic for fans and critics. Charles was happy to have made her mark on the show’s success, especially shedding light on a story she thinks needs to be told. She aims to do her part in sharing important stories for the masses, and Sensitive Skin allowed her to do just that.
“This can and will lead to individuals starting a conversation. We are taught to get over things and move on. Well some of those obstacles are a pain and we need help. That help shows up in different ways, in the form of different people and unexpected experiences,” she said.
Portraying such a powerful role, Charles took careful measures not to overplay. She aimed to bring in the comedy, but not bash the audience over the head with her displeasure. The humor was already there, she didn’t have to inject anything extra, just enhance it with her performance. A large part of her is Carol, so she chose to portray herself, with some fine tuning.
“I was in and amongst some real comedy vets and I got to watch them play. I had a blast on this set. The ‘matter of fact’ way they handled both their scenes and characters, you knew this was from years of experience, I watched every nuance,” she said.
Despite the many awards and accolades Sensitive Skin has received, Charles says the greatest reward is sharing such a real story with audiences all over her country, and the rest of the world. There is no greater sense of purpose as an actor than storytelling, and she is more than happy to do her part.
“There is honesty in this situation. Many of us spend so much time silencing ourselves to please others, we lose our voice. Kids, partners, bosses, friends, all of them. We relinquish our power, which dampens our spirit. There comes a point when enough is enough and you rebel, hopefully in a healthy way, and that is what this show is truly about,” she concluded.
By Annabelle Lee
June 23rd, 2019