Natalie Marie Ames may live a double life between North London and LA, but within her burns a single ambition

Natalie Marie Ames is marvelling at how different our surroundings are compared to what her ‘ordinary’ daily life is like. ‘The main difference between LA and North London is that the former is the hub of the entertainment industry,’ she says, as we meet for coffee in the relative quiet of Frederick’s. ‘There is no conversation that’s not about the industry. You are surrounded by scripts, production meetings, buzz words like green light. Coming home [to North London] for the first time in a long time meant I could catch up with current affairs! You are in a bubble there in LA of film and your career.’

It was her career that inspired Natalie to make quite the decision to up sticks from North London to attempt to break into the industry she clearly loves. ‘It was a pretty major decision,’ she puffs her cheeks out. ‘I was drawn to it – not just because of Hollywood, but the lifestyle, the sun. I found out about the visa you could get to move out there for three years if you are an “alien of extraordinary ability” so I filed for that and got it. I am an alien!’

She believes that moving out to LA has given her career a boost, with her latest role a case in point. Natalie plays a British news anchor in Criminal, which has quite a cast: Gary Oldman, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot and Kevin Costner all top the bill. Set in London, the film follows what happens when the memories and skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict. ‘It’s the biggest thing I have done,’ she says on being a part of a studio movie. ‘The bigger the budget, the bigger everything is.’ Did she learn from her glitzy co-stars? ‘Absolutely,’ she nods eagerly. ‘One thing I did notice is the level of ease and professionalism. One minute you are laughing, and the next you are filming.’


Moving to LA has not only boosted Natalie’s vitamin D intake, but also her career (Photo: Emily Sandifer)

Criminal is set for release in early 2016 and, in the meantime, Natalie is back in North London to work on Strangers on the Ledge, which she has penned. ‘I have always dabbled with writing,’ she explains, ‘but I have never had the discipline to finish something. That changed when I went to Sundance in 2014. I met so many people with their first feature out there and that inspired me. I came back and worked on finishing this short film. I would describe it as Lost in Translation meets Before Sunrise.’

The glamour of LA and Sundance seem a world away from when she was appearing on the stage at the likes of Angel’s King’s Head Theatre. ‘Oh that was fun and very intimate,’ she laughs at the memory. ‘It was a series of monologues and it was me out there by myself, a really weird role and she only talked in verse. I definitely miss the theatre. I recently tried to see Benedict Cumberbatch [in Hamlet], but I couldn’t get a ticket.’ I ask if she could imagine being as famous as Sherlock himself? ‘Can I?’ she looks up to the sky and pauses. ‘Yeah! But I am quite a private person. I do see myself as being successful. What I have learnt in LA is you literally have to sell yourself. If you are in an elevator, you have to be ready to introduce yourself to anybody.’

WORDS Mark Kebble

Criminal is set for release in spring 2016 and keep up with Natalie at

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