Interview: Nazneen Contractor discusses Star Trek Into Darkness
It may have been a role of a lifetime for Canadian actress Nazneen Contractor, and it surely was a large milestone in her young acting career.
The 31-year-old, born in Mumbai and raised in Toronto, took to Los Angeles to more aggressively and decidedly pursue her passion. A combination of talent and timing it would seem found her nailing an audition to play the role of a wife and a mother in one of 2013’s most anticipated blockbusters.
One of many vying for a small yet important and coveted role, Contractor auditioned when the director happened to show up, and an one later she had gotten the part.
“J.J. Abrams walked into my audition,” says Contractor during an interview while in Toronto. “I left, drove back to Hollywood, went to yoga class, and there was a message on the phone.”
“I almost went into labor in the parking lot,” adds Contractor, who was pregnant with her son at the time.
The role is Rima Harewood, and while that name might not be the most familiar to movie goers, the film, Star Trek Into Darkness, certainly is noteworthy. Now out on DVD and Blu-Ray, the sequel to the Abrams’ 2009 reboot brings back stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Zoe Saldana, and Anton Yelchin to tell another chapter in the sage of the Enterprise Crew. Joining the second film are Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch, the latter of whom influences Contractor’s storyline.
We meet Harewood in the second scene of the film after a dramatic opening, where we learn her child is sick and dying. Harewood’s husband meanwhile is a Starfleet officer, and gets an offer by Cumberbatch’s John Harrison – he can save the child, but needs something in return.
“It’s nice to be part of a smaller story that leads to a bigger story,” explains Contractor. Her scenes are indeed some of the quietest, most tender in a film that is big, loud, and incredibly fast. “I think that’s always a beautiful way to start.”J.J. really lead us through the preparation; we shot still photos, home videos in numerous locations, and we all got to know to each other.”
A week of shooting and two major scenes were in place, but as tends to happen, not everything that is shot and mapped out makes it to the finished product. “The way the role was written, I bookended the film,” informs Contractor. “We were to be in the scene at the opening and at the end, but that got cut out.” Her first sequence too was switched around, allowing for whirlwind of an action set piece to open the film on the red planet.
Still, Contractor’s opportunity is unforgettable. “From all of this, took away that it’s entirely possibly to do. I moved to L.A. to get into a big movie – it was a huge amount of validation. It was a very demanding shot, and I felt like I rose to the occasion.”
A fan of Star Trek growing up, Contractor viewed that series as well as other sci-fi shows as an interesting way into the industry. “I watched these futuristic shows, and it was the first time I saw visible minorities in regular roles. It had a huge impact on me. I thought, ‘is this going to be my career?’”
Well, it’s certainly not the end, but it’s definitely a memorable chapter in what looks to be a lengthy story for the dedicated actress.