Ncuti Gatwa Interview: ‘Sex Education’
“I am very happy. I’m very, very happy that we’ve been nominated for four BAFTAs. It’s completely crazy,” Ncuti Gatwa tells Gold Derby in an exclusive interview (watch the video above), speaking to a media outlet for the first time since achieving “the highest honor for a British actor,” with his BAFTA Award nomination for “Sex Education,” which was created by Laurie Nunn. “I’m very, very grateful. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet, to be honest with you. It hasn’t sunk in! I keep looking at the BAFTA page to be like, ‘Is it still there?’ Am I still nominated or has it gone? No, okay, it’s still there,” the Best Comedy Actor nominee laughs.
Gatwa is quick to celebrate the three nominations for the show in the craft categories: “I’m very, very excited and so happy for Laurie and for Lauren Evans as well and [production designer] Sam Harvey. They are such hardworking people. Laurie, the world that she’s created, it’s incredible and Lauren Evans (casting director), the lengths that she goes to — to find the actors that she does — is insane. She works so hard and so it’s nice that the show is being recognized in different categories as well.”
Having been trained classically at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Gatwa has an extensive process for his performance that begins with reading the script five times. He elaborates about his next steps, “I will highlight and write down all the things that my character says about my character and then, I will write down all the things that my character says about another and then, I will write down all the things that all the other characters say about my character and then, what I’m left with is a bunch of statements referring to my character that help me understand who that person is and then, I will go through all the facts about my character.” Gatwa continues, “By that point, I’ve got quite a good grasp of the words and the world of the piece and then, I will track the character’s emotional journey on a chart, literally a graph.”
He admits that “it’s a lot,” but the above only covers the preparation that Gatwa does a month before shooting. The day before, he writes down the objectives of his character in the particular scene, while also relating this to the character’s overall objectives, as well as relevant actions of his character. Gatwa notes that this is a longer and less continuous method than he uses on stage, as he hopes, “Every time I come to a scene to actually do the scene, it’s fresh and natural, yet has an embedded foundation of work behind it.”
Because of differing eligibility periods and voting timelines, plus a delayed announcement, Gatwa contends at BAFTA for the first season, but is eligible at the Emmys this summer for the second. If nominated for Best Comedy Supporting Actor, Gatwa might submit the fourth episode for consideration as his showcase because “there were a lot of emotions going on there for Eric.” He explains, “The first date between Eric and Adam was really beautiful and really well done.”
Netflix is pushing the premiere to represent the second season in other key categories; that installment includes Eric’s iconic line of “You should wash your hands, you dirty pig,” which Gatwa reveals that he improvised. Gatwa counters that the penultimate episode of the second season has “got to be” his personal favorite and gushes, “I love that one. It moves me so much. I just love Aimee Lou Wood‘s — that’s the actor, Aimee Gibbs the character — Aimee Gibbs’s story line in season two so much. It was really important that we tackle the topic of harassment and sexual misconduct because they are very real things and they are very real things for many, many women and it’s very important for young boys as well to see that everyday acts of sexism do exist. The patriarchy exists!”
“We’re going to delve a little bit deeper into Eric’s culture,” Gatwa teases about the third season that will shoot “hopefully in the next coming months” and he suggests will feature more of the “very strong family unit” to which Eric belongs. “It’s definitely a conversation I have had with the writers,” he says about incorporating more of an intersection between race and sexuality in future episodes. Gatwa elaborates about his “collaborative” meetings with the head writer specifically, “I’ve felt comfortable to share my views on those topics with her and she’s been open to hearing them.”