KARLA CROME [CARNIVAL ROW]
English actress Karla Crome plays the fae Tourmaline in Amazon Prime Video’s Carnival Row. She is the lover and friend of Vignette (Cara Delevigne). She was the Poet Laureate in her homeland, but in The Burge she finds works as a prostitute.
Crome is no stranger in British television. You may recognize her as Jess in Misfits, and roles in The Victim, The Level, You, Me and the Apocalypse, Under the Dome and more.
Karla Crome is not just a pretty-faced actress but also a writer. Writing scripts for TV is something that she enjoys to do.
In this exclusive interview, read on as Crome narrates her acting journey and learn about the Magic If Method of acting, Carnival Row and actually wearing wings and flying, her dream to play Spidwerwoman or She-Hulk, and what book she would be if she’s one.
Hi Karla, tell us about your story? Where are you originally from and how did acting start for you?
I’m from Borehamwood, a town on the North London commuter belt. It’s where EastEnders is filmed and they have a big Tesco (supermarket).
I always wanted to perform. I used to think that meant being in West End Musicals. I’m a terrible singer so I worked out quite quickly that wasn’t the route for me.
I decided on vocational training for ‘straight acting’ and went to Drama School when I was 18. I think UK drama schools get a lot of flack for being elitist - but that certainly wasn’t my experience. I’m from a very ordinary background. At that time, drama school fees were in line with university tuition fees- nowhere near as extortionate as they are now. If it wasn’t for my training, I’d have no other way into the industry. I got an agent from a final year show, and that’s how I got started.
Do you remember your most memorable audition?
I hate auditioning. Some people get a buzz out of it but I find it so draining. I don’t know if it gets easier, being repeatedly judged like that. I try to concentrate on channelling any anxiety into my performance. Sometimes it works a treat, sometimes I look like I’ve shat myself.
That said, if the director and casting director are willing to meet you halfway, it can make a massive difference.
I did a one-off BBC drama called ‘Murder’ when I was 23, and the director insisted on a 30-40 minute slot with each actor at the recall. It gave me time to relax, catch my breath and try new things in the room. It also made me respect him as a director. To date that is the work I am most proud of.
Walk us through your acting process. How do you approach the different characters that you portray?
I like to use a method called the Magic If. It just means putting yourself in your characters shoes; asking how you would truthfully respond to the same set of circumstances. People don’t always laugh when they’re happy, cry when they’re sad or shout when they’re angry. We’re infinitely more complex than that- using this technique just guides me away from a clichéd performance. At least I hope it does.
Out of all the characters that you played, is there any specific character that stayed with you for a while?Any specific favorite?
I played a character called Alice in ‘Linda’ by Penelope Skinner at the Royal court a few years ago. I loved playing her. She was fragile, funny, offbeat. It’s rare you get to play a part so layered. A lot of parts I read for feel quite 2D. The best characters are contradictory and surprising, just as people are in real life.
Let’s talk about Carnival Row. Tell us about your character Tourmaline.
Tourmaline is a faery, driven from her war-torn homeland to ‘The Burge’- a district populated by humans-the ruling class. In the Burge, fae are the social underclass. If they don’t get jobs in service or manual labour, they are forced into crime or sex work. Tourmaline was the Poet Laureate in her homeland, but in The Burge she finds works as a prostitute. That said, she is resilient and proud. She doesn’t feel ashamed -she just does what she has to do to get by.
What role does she play in the world of the series?
Tourmaline is caught up in complicated Love triangle with Vignette Stonemoss (played by Cara Delevingne) and Philo (Orlando Bloom.) Vignette discovers that Philo- the lover she thought died in the war - is still alive and well in The Burge. Vignette and Tourmaline are best friends, despite a failed relationship many years before. Tourmaline still carries a torch for Vignette even though she’s in love with someone else. Tourmaline is fiercely loving and loyal- so she’ll do all she can to reunite Vignette and Philo even if it breaks her heart.
What’s the best thing about playing her?
I get to wear wings and fly! I was literally hoisted up on the end of a rope and swung all over the set.
It was brilliant. I had never done any harness/stunt work before playing Tourmaline and I loved it.
What is your dream role/project?
Hmm. It used to be Storm (X-Men) but Alexandra Shipp beat me to it! I’d like to play Spiderwoman or She-Hulk. I think Spiderwoman is English in the comics so that’s a plus. I’d also love to do some Shakespeare. I’ve got my eye on Katarina from Taming of the Shrew. Or Othello.
Which actor do you dream to work with?
Easy. Meryl Streep. This side of the Atlantic... Samantha Morton.
Where do you get your inspirations from?
I love Podcasts. My favourites are BBC Woman's Hour, Beyond Belief, Death Sex and Money and Criminal. They are always great conversation starters and they just broaden my knowledge of the world.
What else keeps you busy if you’re not acting?
I write for TV. Most recently I wrote an episode of ‘Safe’ on Netflix, and I’ve done an episode on the follow up, ‘The Stranger’ which should be out later this year. I have a couple of original TV shows in development and I’ve written a short film which I’m going to direct next year. I enjoy being creative. As I get older I feel more confident to try new things. If things don’t work out I just think‘fuck it’. As least I was brave enough to give it a shot. No one’s going to die if I write a bad script.
Other than that I’m pretty dull, actually. I like running, pottering round the house, doing crosswords and watching Love Island and Louis Theroux docs.
If you were a book, what book would you be and why?
A Crossword puzzler. Not because I’m a mysterious, enigmatic intellectual. Just because I like Crosswords and that means I don’t have to look at people on public transport.
Catch Karla Crome as Tourmaline in Amazon Prime Studio’s Carnival Row streaming now!