The young actress on life after The Inbetweeners

Whilst studying at London Drama School, Coventry born, 23 year-old Tamla Kari made her acting debut in the summer smash hit comedy The Inbetweeners Movie, starring as Lucy, love interest of hopelessly awkward teenager Simon.  The film broke box-office records in the UK, grossing £13.2m in its opening weekend.  Kari has also starred in Being Human and in the latest series of Silk.  Speaking from her home in Coventry, the actress explains just how lucky she was to get the part as Lucy.


Tamla Kari: It was a weird one, actually, because I originally was seen for the part of the PR girl who was handing out the leaflets outside Marco's - the one who ends up smacking Jay around the face.  This was while I was still at drama school; I got put up for it by my agent, just on the off chance.  Nothing came of it and I had forgotten about it.  Then a few weeks down the line, I got a call saying they wanted to see me for this other part called Lucy.  I didn't really know the kind of extent of her character.  I went in and I read, expecting to read with the casting director, but Joe Thomas was actually there.  I was absolutely bricking it.  I read with him in front of the producers and the writers, and then I think I had to go back the next day and read again in front of the director this time as well.  They had already started rehearsing at this point, so when I went into the room they're all there, the other girls who had been cast, and all the boys.  It was a bit mental.  I think it might have been that same night that I got the call.


STUDIO: Did going out to film affect your return to your drama studies?

TK: It was a bit weird coming back, but my class was really supportive and really happy for me.  Although it was weird, it was easy in terms of nothing had changed and no one treated me any differently or anything.  It was good that I could come back and do some theatre.



As well as taking time out of studying to film, the actress also got marked on The Inbetweeners Movie, getting a 1st for her degree.   So, in addition to picking up training and experience on the job, she also got a good degree out of it.  Not bad going for a first film.


The sweet and lovable Lucy has to put up with Simon's ignorance and disrespect towards her feelings with the constant obsession over ex-girlfriend Carli D'Amato, which fans of the TV show will know that this fascination was constant throughout the series.  It becomes apparent with the characters and the audience that Lucy is the obvious choice for him from the beginning, it just takes him until the end of the film to realise this.



STUDIO: Just how similar are you to the character you play?

TK: Well, I think Lucy had a great journey throughout the whole film.  Personally, I would not have taken the slack that Lucy did.  I would probably have told Simon to sod off quite soon on, as soon as he started rambling on about Carli, me (Tamla) would not have put up with that.  I don't want to call her a pushover because she's not a pushover, but she did take some stick and kept going back for more, which I wouldn't do.




Lucy's relationship with Simon certainly isn't unique, however Kari maintains that she has never been in a similar situation as her character.



TK: No, can't say I have and can't say that I would.  I mean, of course there's a lot of similarities because every character that you play there's going to be a part of you in it somewhere, somewhere to draw upon of course.  But she's a lot nicer than me.  Well, that's not true at all, I'm not a horrible person, but I'd say I'm probably less tolerant than Lucy and that I wouldn't put up with the crap that she did.  Although, she came out good in the end.  I don't think that I would have put up with that kind of behaviour straight away.  I just think, what's the point?  If someone's so hung up on their ex, then don't go there, don't waste your time.  But she was a lovely character to play.  I felt really lucky and really pleased because she had a really nice journey.



The Inbetweeners started back in 2008 as a show about a group of awkward teenagers from a typically suburban comprehensive school, who didn't conform to any particular social groups.  Skins was the overly dramatic show full of good-looking and cool teenagers, however it is widely agreed that The Inbetweeners is much more relatable.  These are the kids at school that most of us would associate to, they are neither popular or social rejects.



STUDIO: So did you fit into that 'inbetweener' category?

TK: You know what, probably.   I wasn't in what you would call the cool crowd, but I wasn't terrorized at school either.  I'd get called geek and boff because I would do well in exams; I just got my head down.  I didn't particularly go to a great school, but I did well.  I'm glad I went to a slightly rougher school because it toughened me up a bit.  It was a bit scary, but I've got no regrets about going there.  I was never a popular girl or the girl that anyone fancied or anything like that.  I was very much mediocre, an inbetweener I suppose.  I wasn't the popular one and I wasn't beaten up, I just kind of floated along in the middle.



Damon Beesley and Iain Morris are the creative duo responsible for the teen-comedy hit, drawing ideas from their own personal experiences at the age of the characters.



STUDIO: The film and series capture the antics of teenage youth.  Just how much of the writer's youth still remains in themselves today?

TK: They're dead naughty.  They terrorise Joe Thomas and Blake as well sometimes.  They're just like little boys really, but they're married men.  They're great and having them on set as well, because they're the writers and they produce it as well, having them there, they can tweak things that aren't quite working.  Whenever I've seen them since, they're just really complimentary and just really nice guys.  I would jump at the chance to work with them again.




STUDIO: A big screen debut could be seen as an actor or actress' big break.  What has it done for your career?

TK: It's not like I can go into an audition and be like, "Hi, yes I'm Tamla Kari."  I'm still on the audition circuit.  Obviously, it's good to have on the CV and I learnt a lot.  I'm still like any other actress, I'm still auditioning and auditioning and not getting these things.  It's a hard slog.  I was prepared for that and I'm just lucky to have had that opportunity really.  I'm sure it has helped, of course, but nothing's changed in me.  I'm in Coventry at the minute in my kitchen and my mum's in the living room.  I'm still normal.


STUDIO: You also had a role in the fourth series of Being Human.  How did the television experience differ to being on a film set?

TK: Going into Being Human was hard because obviously they're in their fourth series so they all knew each other; it wasn't like you were starting something afresh.  Everyone was so lovely and welcoming, but it was the speed in which everything has to be done.  When you're only given one or two takes, it's really hard to get in that moment and then it's over, it's done and they've got what they wanted and you feel like you're just warming up in a way.  There isn't that rehearsal period to be doing a play.  Half the time, there is no rehearsal on TV, you go with your character and you do it and that's it, and that's quite difficult.  There was a bit more time doing The Inbetweeners - it was something like 6 weeks.  Being Human just felt so fast to me, it's something I'll have to get used to with doing more TV.  That's the norm.



After the huge success of the movie, it wasn't surprising to see rumours surfacing of another potential film or series by dynamic writing duo Damon Beesley and Iain Morris.



STUDIO: Would you be interested in reprising your role as Lucy?

TK: Oh, God yeah.   Like a shot.



Having just finished Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, a play set in the '50s, adapted from a novel by Alan Sillitoe and directed by Matthew Dunster, the young talent has many hopes and aspirations for her career.



TK: I'm itching to do another film.  I'd love to do a gritty drama, a period drama or an independent film, something that really stretches me and will show a completely different side to what people have seen.



With such passion and drive, Tamla Kari is certainly one to look out for in the foreseeable future.



Words by Adam Sellick

“I would not have taken the slack that Lucy did, I would probably have told Simon to sod off.”

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