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Behind the scenes: Nude Tuesday

23 June 2022

Jackie van Beek is no stranger to the big screen, but writing and starring in her latest film Nude Tuesday was uncharted territory for the writer and film star. Style had a behind-the-scenes look at how she found speaking in gibberish, and filming completely naked on a New Zealand mountain. Interview Hannah Brown

'Nude Tuesday' is a wonderfully weird New Zealand comedy about a couple in an effort to rekindle their troubled marriage. Laura (played by Jackie Van Beek) and Bruno (played by Damon Herriman) head to a three-day couples’ retreat run by relationship and sexual healing guru Bjorg Rasmussen (played by Jemaine Clement).

The must-see comedy is spoken entirely in improvised gibberish, which sounds slightly Scandinavian and communicates the miscommunication between Laura and Bruno who are on a journey of self-discovery. After filming, British comedian Julia Davis wrote the subtitles, which are sure to have you leaving the movie theatre laughing. Nude Tuesday was released on June 13th and is in Cinemas in Aotearoa now.

Tell us a bit about your new film Nude Tuesday…

It's an absurd comedy about a suburban couple who go to a new age camp as a last-ditch attempt to save their marriage. And the whole thing is performed in a gibberish language which we had subtitled after we finished the film by an amazing British comedian, Julia Davis.

What was it like writing a film, rehearsing it in English, and then performing it in gibberish? 

Very freeing actually. When you don't have to think about the content of what you're saying, you can focus purely on the energetic and emotional exchange between actors. 

How did the idea to speak in gibberish come about?

 Armagan and I were about a year into development and exploring the themes of miscommunication and misinterpretation between couples in these long-term relationships, and I suddenly had the thought – what if we all speak in gibberish and nobody can actually understand anything that each other is saying? Armagan loved that idea.  

What was it like seeing your script come to life on screen?

Absolutely thrilling. Armagan did such an amazing job of creating a spectacular world and Julia's gibberish was so surprising to us – I had no idea that my character had a "Christmas anal fling with her idiot boss!"

You worked with a range of talent on this film, including Damon Herriman and Jemaine Clement, what did you like about this cast?

The entire cast was so committed and courageous. I love that! They're all incredible improvisors and very generous with joining us for a film full of gibberish and nudity – a first for all of us! (Actually, Nude Tuesday is Jemaine's second film set at a nudist camp).

Filming naked... Just another day in the office? Except some of the film was made in Makarora in below zero temperatures, tell us about that...

Oh yes it was cold! We drilled the final sequence twice on the ground (fully clothed) in the days leading up to the shoot. Everyone knew where they needed to be at all times. We had wardrobe assistants hiding in the tussock with big warm cloaks so as soon as Armagan said CUT they would all leap up and throw the cloaks around us.

How/why was Makarora chosen as a key location? 

Armagan spent weeks on the internet scouring New Zealand for a location that felt enchanting. And Wonderland in Makarora was exactly that – the beautiful little A-frame huts, the mossy forests not to mention the majestic rivers and mountains. It was perfect! 

With the upcoming release of the film in cinemas this month, how do you feel waiting for New Zealand to see it?

I'm so excited for people to see this movie! Armagan and I feel that the movie is a real celebration of humanity and nature. And I've had so many messages from audience members telling me that it's the most they've laughed in a long time – which makes me feel good!

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