Josh Hartnett has shared the screen with the most talented of actresses. From Kate Beckinsdale, Hilary Swank to Lucy Liu, few have spoke with such adoration as Naomie Harris does after starring opposite Hartnett in “August.”
“Josh was always there for me as an actor and really supportive. Also, he has a wonderful quality of just wanting to always grow and learn more and be open,” Harris said with her utterly charming British lilt. “I enjoyed the experience immensely.”
Harris plays a woman from Hartnett’s past who reunites with him during the fateful month of August 2001. The British actress talked to SheKnows about the relationship at the center of the story of the difficult days for the dot-com industry in “August” and how a few words from David Bowie ‘sent me to the moon.’
SheKnows: It’s hard not to notice the presence of 9/11, given the setting is the month prior, do you think, in a sense, it’s its own character? It something that’s coming that we all know, but it’s not ever necessarily mentioned in any way.
Naomie Harris: It definitely has a presence in the film. I think that it’s clever that is left and never explored in the film. You’re right. It’s an extra presence that we all know about.
SheKnows: Initially, what first drew you to this particular film at this particular time in your life?
Naomie Harris: I loved the story. I really liked the way the relationship was represented between Sarrah and Josh’s character. Normally in films, it’s usually two strangers represented coming together, being attracted to each other and will it work kind of thing. This is about two people who have been there, done that. They had a relationship. They know each other’s faults and yet they’re trying to again to make it work. That, for me, was a really interesting perspective on relationships that is not often portrayed in film.
SheKnows: For you as an actress, preparation wise, is it any different working on a film like “August” which is much more intimate than say, “The Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, but you still have to bring that face to face acting, how is that different for you?
Naomie Harris: It’s not really. It’s exactly the same. It’s always about finding your character and finding their truth and represent that while responding to your fellow actors. That process is the same, no matter what the genre of movie you’re doing. It’s always about that search for truth and that openness to the other people you’re playing with.
SheKnows: Your film resume is so rich, for instance, films like 28 Days Later. A film phenomenon such as that, did you have any idea when you’re making it, that it would rock the world?
Naomie Harris: No, no…we had no idea whatsoever (laughs). I was just thankful to be working. I only left drama school nine months before and hadn’t really done much at all. I was grateful someone was giving me a job. I had no idea it was going to go on to be the huge success that it’s been. That there would be a sequel (laughs).
SheKnows: I may be wrong, but it looks like it was fun to make.
Naomie Harris: Oh, no. That was not fun (laughs). Not at all, it was very arduous. Being covered in blood during freezing cold weather, we were filming during November, it was physically demanding, emotionally, I was exhausted.
SheKnows: In “August,” there are no scenes with you and David Bowie. Did you ever run into him on the set?
Naomie Harris: I did not, unfortunately. I got a lovely message from Josh when I got to set one day to say that David had said hi. I was over the moon, ‘Oh, my gosh. He knows who I am.’ I was totally flattered by that. That’s the closest I got to him.
SheKnows: Hey that’s great. I was wondering if you ran into him or whatever because I just love him.
Naomie Harris: Oh my gosh, he’s the best (laughs)
SheKnows: You’ve been acting for years now, was there ever anything else?
Naomie Harris: I’ve always loved acting. I started professionally when I was nine-years-old and did TV and things like that. I’ve never done anything else and I’ve never wanted to do anything else either. It’s always been my first love. I think there is something really cathartic about acting. In life we’re restricted to playing one role, to being one kind of person. I think what attracts all of us is the idea of playing a million different characters and personalities. The various ways that people respond to events, we choose. I find it liberating to explore other ways of being, behaving and reacting in these varied characters.
SheKnows: During your career, are there any individuals behind or in front of the camera that really made a mark on you professionally?
Naomie Harris: I really did genuinely impressed by working with Josh (Hartnett). With most actors, when you’re not on screen and you’re working with your fellow actor, you don’t give 100 percent. It’s not because you’re necessarily being selfish about it. Especially after a big emotional scene, there’s only so much emotional reserve that you have. If you cry, dramatically when the camera goes off on someone else, you don’t have much to give because you’ve been through much emotionally. Normally, that’s the way you find it. But Josh was so incredibly generous and giving that no matter whether the camera was on me or him, he always gave 100 percent.
SheKnows: Josh’s got this quiet power that resonates especially through this film.
Naomie Harris: Wow, he really does, quite intense.