"I’ve done a really crazy mix of stuff"André Pattenden

What are your best memories of filming the Narnia series? Are you still in touch with the other cast members?

I was really young when I started filming, so when I remember it, it’s like this weird line between reality and dream. The best day I can remember was turning nine on set, because we were filming in New Zealand and I’d been away from my family for about two months; my mum had been with me, but my dad and sisters flew out on my birthday. We had a special cake and the production assistants decorated my trailer, it was like crazy fantasy stuff. In terms of keeping in touch, we’re all doing different things but, whenever we can see each other, we do. We spent so much time together that we genuinely are so close. It’s great, I love them so much.

How do you feel looking back at the films, and seeing a snapshot of your younger self preserved?

Anyone who’s a youngest child will know that there’s always fewer home videos of you, so we make jokes that my home videos are the Narnia films. My grandma loves watching the films and my parents normally flick on the first one at Christmas whilst they’re decorating the tree or something. I can’t really watch them for a long time, but I can watch them for a bit because I look so young in them that it doesn’t really feel like I’m watching myself; it’s more a like a version of myself. There’s definitely an image of me imprinted in people’s brains, which is weird to think about.

Did you grow up reading the Narnia books, and would you consider acting in fantasy again?

We read the Narnia series in school and I would get annoyed because I’d have read on ahead at home and then everything would be repeated in class when we read it together. I’ll read anything now, I’m into American modernism which my dissertations are on, but I’m looking forward to reading for pleasure again. There’s so much reading for your degree that you can’t just read that F. Scott Fitzgerald novel you always wanted to. As for acting, I auditioned for Narnia when I was seven and finished when I was 15: when you’ve been part of something for so long you do worry about getting typecast. The roles I was offered were very similar and I wanted to do something new and go forward, and experiment with loads of different stuff. There’s never been any kind of plan, I think some people feel the need to over-compensate and destroy the image people have of them when they’ve acted as a child, but I’ve never really felt the need to do that.

How do you think being involved in the Narnia series has impacted on you and your life, not only during the years of filming but even now?

It’s a very clichéd phrase, but it has completely changed my life: I’ve travelled the world and met so many amazing people. Getting into Cambridge was a really big achievement for me because I’ve had to juggle studying and work commitments, and making the decision to go to university meant that I could only do projects I really wanted to do. I decided that for the three years I’m at Cambridge I want to focus on experimentation, especially with theatre, and take time out of professional work.

What have been your highlights of the Cambridge theatre scene?

I’ve done a really crazy mix of stuff. In my first year I played Hecuba in The Trojan Women and a gender-ambiguous alcoholic chaplain in A Clockwork Orange within two weeks: that’s the kind of freedom we have here to express different ideas. Skylight was great because, considering it was put together so quickly and acting on stage for two hours was such a big responsibility, we didn’t expect the amazing reaction we got. I get so nervous when I’m acting, but I find that when I’m onstage I completely forget my nerves. In film there’s the sense of ‘it’s forever’, which is also terrifying; I can’t really work out whether I prefer acting for theatre or film, but there are definitely different pressures.

You’re now working on your own film, Tide; can you tell us a bit about that? What inspired you?

Tide follows two young women as they go about their daily lives: the relationship between them is very ambiguous, you’re not really sure who’s caring for who and whether they’re in love or just friends. It’s quite difficult to explain because it’s very visual, but above all it’s about dealing with the absence of the one person in your life that you rely on. We shot it last summer, and we’re now editing it, which is really exciting and it feels like everything is coming together. I actually had the idea about five years ago when I went to this beach in Lytham, St Anne’s, and since then the idea’s changed dramatically, but always stuck with me. There’s so much talent in Cambridge and so many resources that I wanted to make the most of, that I thought why not?

Have you always wanted to be an actor? What are your plans for the future?

I have always wanted to since seeing my older sister acting, singing and dancing, and Narnia gave me the opportunity to see that I could make it a career. I want to continue acting, but also being given the freedom to write and direct in Cambridge has been amazing and made me realise that it is something I want to pursue.

It’s difficult for women to be taken seriously in the industry, so you just have to put yourself out there and believe in your work. You have to convey that you have a story and a message, and that’s what I want to do: whether I’m acting, writing or directing, I want to tell stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told.

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