Nathan Stewart-Jarrett Discusses New Movie ‘Femme’ And Society’s Expectations On Masculini...

Actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett recently described, in an interview with the Guardian, his new show ‘Femme,’ where he plays a drag queen named Jules. While talking about this role and pushing himself as an actor, Stewart-Jarrett also took the opportunity to describe society’s obsession with masculinity and the importance of breaking those standards.

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Actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, known for his iconic roles in Misfits and Utopia, was recently interviewed by Catherine Bray for The Guardian to discuss his upcoming performance in ‘Femme,’ an erotic thriller that follows a drag queen Jules, played by Stewart-Jarrett, as he formulates a revenge plan after being attacked by a gang of homophobic men. 

According to Stewart-Jarrett, after his character is attacked, Jules runs into Preston, the gang’s ringleader, surprisingly at a gay sauna. From this, Jules not only determines that Preston is gay himself, but also that Preston doesn’t recognize him out of drag, leading him to create a master revenge plan against his attacker while befriending him at the same time.

While Stewart-Jarrett did boast that he loves a good erotic thriller, he still isn’t sure how to categorize this new project: “The Bedroom Window with Elizabeth McGovern. Body Heat with Kathleen Turner. The Last Seduction … I mean, basically, I love all of those movies. [But] I wouldn’t say it’s [Femme] an erotic thriller, per se. I’m still trying to discover what it is! But I find that I don’t always see things the way everyone else does … or the way I should,” he told Bray. 

When developing his character, Stewart-Jarrett discussed that his initial challenge was transforming himself physically and emotionally into a vulnerable individual who could be terrified easily. What helped, he explained, is the fact that his attacker is played by George MacKay, who actually “frightened Stewart-Jarrett in their chemistry read,” according to Bray

“There were questions, because I was quite big at that time, quite muscly, and so there were questions of whether or not I could be convincingly scared. I’d met George once before, but I’ve never seen him like that, and he really scared me. It was so necessary for the film to see us go there and be able to do that…accessing that level of fear and also aggression on his part, it’s hard.”

Stewart-Jarrett had three weeks to lose some of his muscle definition, and learn to walk in high heels. He explained how at first he went to Italy, avoided pasta, and walked on a treadmill in high heel shoes: “It didn’t work, I was not very good.”

“There was a lot of talk about referencing Drag Race, but to be honest I didn’t want to just copy a drag queen,” Stewart-Jarrett stated. He went on to discuss how ‘Femme’ is an equal exploration of the dark sides of masculinity and femininity. 

“Yeah, and we’re obsessed with masculinity as a culture. When an actor who was thin suddenly has huge rippling superhero muscles, it’s like: ‘Oh my God, now we’re gonna pay attention to that person.’ We’re obsessed with that transformation, with that journey to masculinity, and it’s awful. On dating apps like Grindr, people are like: ‘No fems’. In Femme, Preston is encased within toxic masculinity, and Jules is using and getting in touch with his masculinity to enact revenge,”  says Stewart-Jarrett. 

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“I think I’m always looking for a challenge. The role really has to light me up. I need to do things I really want, or things that keep me up at night. You’ve got to take yourself with a pinch of salt – without being salty.”

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Stewart-Jarrett continued to discuss the progression society has made in regards to its views on masculinity and femininity, however, he knows there’s still a lot of work to do. He also draws the parallel of when Obama was elected president: 

“And that was that! And racism was ended! No, no, no, no, no. And I think that the film has to speak to those kinds of tensions. The tragedy in Femme is that Jules is fine, Jules is loved and celebrating his birthday, and he thinks he can take that love, that adulation, on to the streets. And Preston is there to rip it all away from him. And that happens all the time. That’s what independent film, novels, essays, art or whatever has to do; we have to discuss these things.”

When it comes to his future, Stewart-Jarrett is looking forward to audiences seeing Femme: “I seem to only do everything once, which is fine. Be it West End, or Broadway, or a studio film, it’s like one time, one time, one time. And I’m like, ‘Well, if that’s what’s happening, then just lean into that.’ It’s varied. There’s a spirit or feeling of being an outsider because you’re never part of any camp, you kind of just flip between. And it’s nice, like you get to see things differently.”