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‘Til Death Do Us Part’ Star on Growing Up as a Ballerina and Pursuing Her Hollywood Dream


For Ukrainian-American actress Natalie Burn, growing up as a dancer and going to ultra-competitive schools in Moscow and London was surprisingly effective training in surviving Hollywood.

“The competition is so brutal that you get turned down all the time,” Burn says. “You have to have really tough skin not to pay attention and just ignore it and say, ‘Okay.’ In the end, you are doing it for you. That is your dream. You’re basically saying, ‘No, I was born to do this, so I’m not going to give up.’”

He has appeared in films including black adam, consumables 3, The executor and Mechanic: Resurrectionand now drive Until death do us part, a Cineverse-distributed horror-action-comedy hybrid that follows the struggle of a bride with a unique ability to stay alive after running away from her wedding. (In the midst of the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, Until death do us part It’s not a shocking movie.)

the movie of Final destination creator Jeffrey Reddick, who also produced Burn, is directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. and stars an ensemble that includes Cam Gigandet, Jason Patric and Orlando Jones.

A few days before Until death do us part hit theaters on August 4, Burn spoke with the hollywood reporter about the road from kyiv to Hollywood and the bittersweet feeling of releasing a movie during the strikes.

How would you describe your trip to Hollywood so far?

I think like everyone else’s journey, it’s been a bumpy road. I started as a dancer. When I was a dancer, I unfortunately got injured and that’s when I started thinking about a career as an actress. I went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, a summer program, and I loved it. I decided to go back and went to the Lee Strasburg Theater Institute and eventually The Actors Studio. Since I was a dancer, the theater seemed natural to me. So, I was actually considering moving to New York and looking for Broadway, but then I fell in love with Hollywood. It was difficult at first because I didn’t have a green card. I did not have a work permit. I think anyone who comes from abroad understands how difficult it is to start working in Hollywood compared to being here and dreaming of doing things. I think it was like 10 years for me to finally be here now. I get to work. I can do what I love. Basically, I feel like my journey has just begun.

How old were you when you started dancing?

At the age of 4 my mom took me to the ballet because she wanted to fix my posture. I was born a month ahead of schedule, so I had a hunch on my back. She would touch my back and she would tell me: “Hey, straighten up”. She took me to the ballet and begged the teachers to fix my body. Nobody wanted to take me. I started getting the nickname ugly duckling because I also had inward-turning feet. Everyone made fun of me. She had no natural ballet abilities. I had to work really hard to stretch and finally get into a frog pose or split. It was very, very difficult, but my mom was determined. She said, “You have to. You’ll thank me later. I’m definitely grateful because it developed my personality; dedication and constantly going towards something and not giving up no matter what the people around you say.

That’s fascinating given how far you took the ballet you started from a place where your mother had a hard time even getting you into any classes.

It was pretty crazy. They just turned me away and my mom literally had to talk to the director and say, “Please take her away.” Then I ended up at this summer camp and they basically said, “If she survives this camp, if she’s okay, then we’ll take her.” I was like 6 years old. She put me on a bus and I just left and I didn’t know where she was going.

They were ashamed of me. So they put me behind the piano. Throughout my entire life, I feel like I’ve always been pushed behind something at the beginning. I remember doing some kind of ballet cartoon, and I was trying really hard to do it, but everyone was making fun of me. That was a very intense time. I was very young, but I still remember every day due to anxiety. I was always worried, but I really wanted to satisfy my mom and get to where she would be proud of me. They shaved my head. They constantly did not give me food. They were beating me, I didn’t tell him any of this.

My journey finally took off when I got back from that school. I remember my mom asking me, “How was she?” And I was like, “It was great.” I just went ahead and focused on trying to achieve the goals she had planned for me. If she didn’t make it as a dancer, I can. I went to the Bolshoi Academy, which is a huge thing in Russia. Once you get in there, the competition is even worse. The teachers are very brutal.

Then the Royal Ballet School in London was difficult because I didn’t speak English. Going to this amazing school run by the royal family, everyone is upper class. Everyone speaks a certain language and has a certain education. I was one of the first to enter who was a foreigner. And again, my mom dropped me off at the boarding school. And again, I ended up behind the piano. My journey was constantly (starting) behind the piano and pushing myself to end up in the center and finally receive leading roles. Once I got injured, that’s when I said, “Okay, I want to pursue the dream of becoming an actress.”

You were born in kyiv, right?

I was born in Ukraine, yes. Kyiv. It is sad what is happening right now in Ukraine. I remember how beautiful the city itself is. I was 6 years old when I moved to Moscow and only came back a couple of times. I grew up most of my life in London. I just remember how beautiful it was and it’s sad to know that if I ever go back, the beautiful places I used to go are no longer there. it’s devastating

Do you still have family there?

Yes. I have my grandmother on my mom’s side. When the war started, we were rooting for her to get out of it and she just said, “Hey, I lived through World War II, I can survive this one. Here I was born, here I will die”. She just called me today, actually, every day that she calls me, I’m grateful because (I know) she’s okay, and she was in a panic like, “Sorry I didn’t call you yesterday.” I said, “What happened?” And she said, “Well, when she was trying to call you, the siren went off and we had to go downstairs to hide in the bunker.” So, yeah, it’s pretty intense.

Wow. Let’s get to where you are now. How would you describe Until death do us part?

It’s a genre-changing movie that we decided to do for fun. If someone likes horror, they can find a little horror. If you love comedy, there’s a bit of comedy. if they love john wick either kill billyou can find those kinds of tense fights there too.

It’s a bride who basically decides to run away from her wedding and hides in her father’s house, and the groom gets mad and sends seven angry groomsmen to get her out. You find out that they are all murderers and that the director, Timothy Woodward Jr., had the idea to take those seven groomsmen and create almost a snowman. White-Type thing and making each godfather a character. So, it’s not your typical assassins that you see in a movie.

We take a bunch of stuff and just mix it up. It’s interesting and cool to find your own rhythm. Some people won’t understand. They’ll be like, “Oh, well, they’re not taking it seriously.” But that is the idea. There are so many serious things in the world today. We just wanted to make someone laugh. We wanted to create those outrageous situations and make fun of them.

Cam Gigandet and Natalie get burned Until death do us part.


What was your favorite part of filming?

I loved the action parts. We had so much freedom. I worked with DY Sao, who is an amazing martial artist, and Arnold Chon, who came in as a stunt choreographer. We had this collaborative effort and started creating things on the fly, and choreographing as we went based on location.

Working with Cam Gigandet was phenomenal. It was fun. We had this scene that I love when I hold a knife to his throat. Of course, because it’s a totally independent production, we’re not AMPTP, we didn’t have the time or money. They basically gave us 30 minutes to do this five page dialogue scene while doing action, holding knives and talking and fighting with each other.

It has to be really weird for a movie to come out right now. How has that been for you?

A little sad because I feel that as an independent production we have not received enough information. We should have separated ourselves from other productions a bit and not compare ourselves to the big blockbuster movies because we don’t have the same capabilities. We’re just trying to survive here. We’re just trying to make movies for the audience to entertain people and have fun while making them. And it’s kind of devastating that we don’t get a complete guide to what we can and can’t do. I feel like maybe they should have pulled us apart and said, “Hey, if you’re an independent production, you can still go and promote it, even as an actress, because you’ve done the work.” We have done the work and we have worked hard to put it together. We don’t have millions. We do it because we love art. We are doing it for ourselves. We’re doing it for the audience. They are our dreams. It’s our job.

I am in a difficult situation because I also produced the film. So, I’m talking to you first of all as a producer. I support my union. I support my colleagues. I support SAG and I support everything that’s going on right now. I support my union 100 percent, but I also have a movie coming out on August 4th. And, as a producer, I would love to talk to as many journalists as possible so that we can get at least some sort of recognition (because) we made this movie ourselves. I can’t completely turn it off right now (like) I don’t care about the financial outcome of this movie because, you know, I’m not Jennifer Lawrence. So I go out there and I’m like, “Hey, this is our little movie.” I’m delighted with how well this movie turned out. We had a great crew and amazing cast behind it, and we should all be proud of it.

Interview edited for length and clarity.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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