Natalie Zea is no stranger to pushing boundaries, having starred on TV's "Dirty Sexy Money" and "Hung," but her role as a phone-sex operator in the new indie drama "Sweet Talk," available on VOD on Dec. 15, presented a new challenge. Not the sex part, but the phone.
"When I saw the final outcome I was sort of shocked at how sort of tame it was in terms of the sexual nature," Zea told Yahoo Movies over the phone (appropriately enough). "There was a kind of sweetness, like a layer of sweetness that kind of covered the whole thing." She said the bigger challenge was just being physically separated from her co-star Jeffrey Vincent Parise, since they spend much of the film's run time talking on the phone in different rooms.
Zea said they shot Parise's half of the conversation first, with her off to the side in "this little cocoon, this weird makeshift sound booth." Cameras would film him speaking to her on the phone but unable to actually see her. Zea said, "There was a loneliness that was really surprising about it that I didn’t like at all." But then they moved to a different location to film her half, which gave her a second chance to do every scene. She said, "I won that whole deal because my coverage was second, so I really got the advantage."
When it comes to Zea's personal pop culture affinities, they run the gamut from high-brow to low. She's not precious about clothes, and she refuses to spring for popcorn at the movies, but there is one particular singer-slash-actress to whom she'll always declare, "I love you, I honestly love you."
What was the first movie you saw?
Natalie Zea: I think it was Grease. I think, but I can’t be sure.I was a very big Olivia Newton John fan so the movie was sort of inconsequential to me. It was more [about] her.
Even at the time I kind of knew she was probably not a great, great actress, but I just loved her so much. As a kid you just latch on to the idea of somebody and it kind of doesn’t matter if that idea rings any kind of truth. So, the movie itself was so inconsequential. Any time she wasn’t on screen I would lose interest.
What movie makes you cry?
NZ: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I can barely even talk about it. At the end when they’re at the beach house and the set literally starts to break down because the end is coming, but it’s the beginning. I mean, the metaphor. It’s just such a ridiculous metaphor. It’s so specific, and yet so, I think, universal.
What do you eat or drink when you’re watching a movie in a theater?
NZ: Oh, it’s gross. Water. I don’t participate in that monkey business. I get a bottle of water or I bring it in. Don’t tell anyone. The movie theater I go to is outrageously expensive, so I kind of can’t justify spending more money on the concessions.
What's the TV show you never miss?
NZ: Well that doesn’t exist because as much as I adore TV as a medium I can miss a show. I’ll tell you the only show I watch the day of, how about that? "Mad Men."
Who is your TV crush?
NZ: Oh God, I just answered this one earlier. If I say the same one, people are going to be like, "You really have a problem with this guy." I [said] Jake Johnson [from "New Girl"], but now it’s going to be all over the place. That’s fine. He can handle it. He’s married.
What is the guiltiest pleasure currently on your DVR?
NZ: It would have to be the "Bachelor/Bachelorette" series. I am not ashamed. I am not really ashamed.
I have to say, it’s not even about the show. It’s about the group of people with whom I watch it. We don’t even really watch it. I mean, I think they’re way more into it than I am. But I host and I’m like their little den mother. I make food and provide alcohol. It’s more like a weekly get-together to just sort of check in.
We also -- I’m not going to lie -- we have a bracket. I’ve actually never won, because I’m way too cool to know how to strategize with this game. I think [the winner gets] something I don’t need. Whatever the prize is, I don’t need it.
What is your karaoke go-to song?
NZ: It’s an Ice Cube song. It has a different name depending on the karaoke company. Sometimes it’s "Today Was a Good Day," sometimes it’s "It Was a Good Day," and sometimes it’s "Good Day."
What is your favorite album of all time?
NZ: I would say any of the earlier Air albums. The first few Air albums are all tied.
What was your first concert that you remember attending?
NZ: Olivia Newton John. A call-back there.
What song was playing during your first kiss?
NZ: Oh, no, we were outside and there was a pumpjack to my right. Do you know what a pumpjack is? It’s a Texas thing. It’s one of those oil… oh, look it up. You’ll be like, "Oh, that’s a pumpjack."
What website do you visit when no one is watching?
NZ: I can’t tell you that. Sorry.
Who is your favorite Tweeter?
NZ: Oh, I know this one. Alex Baze. I don’t even know who he is. I have no idea. He’s the funniest person on the planet.
What article of clothing can you not live without?
NZ: To be totally honest, if you take away my clothes I’ll be fine, but logistically speaking, I need a coat. I’m not precious about my [clothes], I just want to be warm.
Did you have a poster of a celeb on you wall as a kid/teen?
NZ: I was really, really enamored with Michael J Fox. We were going to get married. It was Marty McFly. I loved the vest.
Have you ever dressed as a celeb for Halloween?
NZ: I have. Unfortunately, it was so good that I have spent years trying to top it and it’s not going to happen. My fiancé and I went as Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda from "On Golden Pond." It was phenomenal. We won money.
I had a Xanadu dress [like Olivia Newton John] that my grandmother made me but that was just, like [for] Tuesday. I didn’t need to do that for Halloween.
"Sweet Talk" is now playing in Los Angeles, and will be available for digital download and on demand on Dec. 15.