How I landed the part of ‘Rhonna' in the new Duncan Jones movie ‘Mute’ by Nikki Lamborn
It all started with a mysterious phone call out of the blue around four years ago. The person on the end of the line introduced himself as Duncan Jones, said he was a film director and had worked on the movie Moon which at that point I hadn’t seen.
He asked me if I could act; I said that in a way I acted when playing with my band Never The Bride. The songs I write with my band-mate Catherine Feeney are very passionate, about real life: people that we see every day, places we’ve been, relationships, friendships, love, loss etc. I told him I’d done a few odd plays for friends but wouldn’t really call myself an actor. He thanked me, hung up and that was that. I just got on with life.
Then in August 2016, I got an email from casting director Manuel Puro asking if I’d be interested in auditioning for a movie by Duncan Jones called Mute, it was a complete surprise.
Straight away I Googled Duncan Jones. There he was, and there were his parents, David and Angela Bowie. I couldn’t believe it.
I read through some of what he’d achieved and was blown away by this man’s talent – he was already a BAFTA-winning director, had worked with some of the biggest actors on the planet, and now he was asking for me. I’m thinking, why me?
It turns out that Duncan had seen me on a TV programme thirteen years before. The way he tells the story, after the show he turned to his girlfriend and said, “That girl is gonna play Rhonna in my new movie.”
The TV show he was talking about was called Faking it, which was about taking a person out of their natural workplace and training them up as something completely bonkers. For instance, one episode was about a ballet dancer to wrestler, then another vicar to car dealer or even a sheep shearer to hairdresser. These people would be trained up over around a week or two and then have to perform in front of professionals as well as the public. The idea was, could they fool the professionals or would they get found out?
My episode was Cambridge Choir Girl to Rock Chick. I am also a vocal coach and was asked to coach and get the choirgirl ready to fake. This Faking it show was Episode 23 in Series 5, 2004, so that’s how long ago Duncan knew I would be Rhonna.
Meanwhile, back in the land of auditions, we finally settled a date. I was sent lines to learn and off it all went.
To say I was terrified doesn’t come close! I had no clue what to expect. Who was Rhonna? What was the film about?
I met up with Manny (Manuel Puro, the casting director) in London’s West End to audition with him just one-to-one. We went into a square white room with two chairs and a table. He set up a small camera on a tripod and sort of said, “Okay, when you’re ready” Talk about completely thrown in at the deep end. There’s me thinking there might be some props and some kind of vibe of Mute but no, it was what looked like a padded cell.
Manny couldn’t have been a nicer, kinder person. He nurtured me, gave me direction, and gave me chances to try different ways of saying the lines. Then afterwards he thanked me and said he’d be in touch and to expect someone to contact me either way in a few days, those days dragged and dragged.
Eventually, an email arrived saying that Duncan and Manny could see something in me that they liked and wanted me to see an acting coach to teach me more, take me through my lines and get me ready for another audition. So, almost immediately I had a crash course in acting! I saw a coach three mornings in a row, and on the third afternoon, I went for my second audition.
Then I waited for around two weeks for any word. Of course, now I really want to do this, so these two weeks of waiting were torture. Every time the phone rang or an email pinged in, or a buzz or beep sounded anywhere, my heart was in my mouth!
I was in Norway on tour. I’d just turned out the lights in my hotel room and after a long travel day and snuggled down for a nap before the evening’s performance. I was just dozing off when the phone rang; it was Manny, saying that the powers that be were still making their minds up, so there was no news. He’d called to say just that: “There is no news”! I could understand as this was a big movie and I was Nikki Lamborn, a little unknown actor-to-be –until then I’d been in my own world of music. Anyway, no news was good news as they say so I was still in with a chance! With great difficulty I had to try to close my eyes again, try to stop thinking about it all, as what was important now was singing and tonight’s show.
It was just a few days later when I finally got the heads-up, I’d got the part. I could hardly believe it. This was totally surreal; I was going to be in a movie with BAFTA-award-winning director Duncan Jones, together with award-winning A-list actors, Alex Skarsgard, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux and even a cameo appearance by Sam Rockwell.
Days later, I’m on a plane to Berlin where Mute is being filmed.
It wasn’t until then I was told how Duncan really wanted me to be there with this incredible cast playing Rhonna it would be true to say he stuck his neck out to get me in Mute.
So on my first day of filming in my life there I was, at the world-famous Babelsberg Film Studios where Fritz Lang made the movie Metropolis, about to work with all these amazing people: actors, crew, caterers, drivers, set builders, what an experience.
I even had a trailer with my name on – Rhonna – this is stuff that dreams are made of. Don’t wake me up!
For more about Nikki Lamborn visit www.neverthebride.com