Imagine landing a part in The Dark Knight Rises, a surefire summer blockbuster. Now imagine that your part in the film is so secretive that even you aren’t sure who you are playing.
That was the case for British model-turned-actor India Wadsworth, who plays The Warlord’s Daughter. If you’ve already seen the film, you know what that part entails (and why it is such a secret). We caught up with India before The Dark Knight Rises premiered for a completely spoiler-free interview discussing what it’s like to have a small, but pivotal secret role in a big budget Hollywood film.
How did you get into acting? When did you decide it’s what you wanted to do for a living?
I was about 18 or 19 and modeling for a few years. I always did acting in high school and never really thought it could be a career. And then a few option deals came up and I did my first movie and I was like, “Wow, this is fun.”
So I carried on pursuing it and it definitely felt like it was giving me a bit more out of modeling because modeling can be a bit frustrating. I just carried on after university and moved to LA about a year ago.
Once you started acting, did you work fairly steadily as an actor or were you mostly modeling and just acting when you could?
Yeah, still modeling, going on lots of auditions, not booking any roles for about two years. But I think that was such a learning process for me to go on auditions and see how the industry worked and work at the craft. I’d done training but I think you definitely learn more on the job.
When did you starting feeling like, “I’m pretty good at this”?
I guess when I came to LA and I started doing acting jobs over here. The technique really inspired me. It’s like a light bulb goes off like, “Aha! That’s how it works.” So I never really thought, “I’m pretty good at this.” I never really had that thought. “Oh, this is getting better I guess” is my thought process.
How did your role in The Dark Knight Rises come about?
I auditioned for it quite a while ago now through my London agent. The audition was in London. It was a pretty standard audition. I didn’t realize it was for The Dark Knight Rises. It was under a different name. It was a good audition, I got to play around with it a little bit, which is always pretty nice to do in an audition.
A few days later I got the call saying it was The Dark Knight Rises, would I like the part? So I screamed and jumped and cried and all that stuff.
So they were so secretive with everything to the point where you didn’t even know what you were auditioning for?
Yes, they didn’t tell me what the role was, then when I got to the set, I thought I’d be doing the sides I got in the audition, but I was doing something completely different. I was preparing my audition sides for the job and as soon as I got to set they gave me something completely different. And I thought, “Oh okay, I’m not that person.”
So your official role is The Warlord’s Daughter, but you aren’t listed on the IMDB page for the film and everyone has been tight lipped about what your part is. Are you allowed to talk about it at all?
I’m completely sworn to secrecy and I’m not allowed to tell anything, which is frustrating, but at the same time it’s perfect because my role, I guess, means something.
How long were you on set filming for The Dark Knight Rises?
I was on and off set for about 10 days and filming for about five. They had to do some stunt training and fittings and all of that stuff.
As someone still starting out in acting, what is it like being on the set of a huge summer blockbuster?
Oh my god, it was so exciting. It was a bit nerve wracking and I felt a bit like I was thrown in the deep end not knowing what I was doing. But at the same time, everyone was lovely and it was so incredible to meet Christopher Nolan and see him at work. I’ve always admired his work. And watching him in his element making his stories come alive is just incredible. Whatever happens in my career, I have that. I can tell my grandkids that that’s what I saw.
What’s he like as a director? Is he very hands on or does he give actors room to find the part on their own?
I think he balances it out. He knows exactly what he wants and he knows exactly what goes on. His attention to detail is phenomenal. The lighting and the hair, costumes and everything, he picks up on to make sure that it’s perfect and what he wants.
But everything else, I think he lets it get into place. It’s been set up, everyone’s got their sides and they know what they’re doing and I think that’s all part of the secret of it of being in the moment. I think what’s really important with acting and filmmaking is being present in the moment because then it’s real and that’s what you’re trying to portray.
With everything being so secret, if you had questions on set or were confused about a line, would he give you answers?
He definitely helped out. There were a few things I wasn’t sure about and a bit nervous about and he was helpful and comforting and like, “Everything will be fine.”
Will you watch yourself in this film or are you one of those actors who doesn’t like to see her work?
I think this is an exception. I usually don’t like seeing myself. I cringe and close my eyes and dread thinking what my mother will say. But this is an exception. This is such an incredible movie that I’m so excited about anyway that I’m dying to see it. Because my role is kind of small, I’ll close my eyes for that bit and watch the rest of the movie.
I am really excited and excited to see it with a big group of people. I was in the cinema watching Harry Potter when the first Dark Knight Rises trailer came out, everyone was clapping for the trailer. I was like, “Oh my god, that’s the trailer.” That was year before the film comes out. “What’s it going to be like when I’m actually in the movie theater?”
What else is on the horizon for you?
I’m filming an indie film at the end of the month. And I just got back from London, I was filming a BBC comedy called Me and Ms. Jones, which was really fun. I’m still pursuing modeling and going on auditions.
What would you be doing for a living if you never got into modeling or acting?
There were two things I really wanted to be. I really wanted to be an architect and a marine biologist. I definitely think it would have been something creative. I think being an architect or doing something where I’m creating something. But I don’t know. Life is a funny thing. It takes you on funny paths. Who knows what will be next?
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I am obsessed with elephants. I spent a month in Thailand learning how to become a mesut, which is a professional elephant rider.
What does the training involve?
It’s basically like learning how to ride a horse. You have to kick behind the ears and you use these little kicks to go left or to go right and learning the language that they understand in Thailand. Learning how to control them, basically. It was totally random, but it was the best month I had in the jungle washing my elephant every morning and trekking through the jungle picking up logs and camping. I loved it.
What does the future hold for you?
It’s the future, so I don’t know. Whatever comes my way. It’s been a really exciting year and I’m looking forward to it. I think to carry on working hard and to have fun. And I’m really lucky I’m acting. It’s the best job in the world. I get to play every day.
Interviewed by Joel Murphy.