Nathaniel Curtis photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a jumper by Igor Dieryck, necklace by Azza Fahmy, and bracelet by Stephen Webster

To say It’s a Sin, the miniseries on which actor Nathaniel Curtis made his breakthrough, was a massive hit would be an understatement. Playing the central figure of Ash Mukherjee, Curtis deftly maneuvered the role, embodying the rebellion of his character both on and off screen. The series sparked important conversations about the stigma that plagued the queer community during the AIDS epidemic, and created a tangible upsurge in HIV testing in the UK. As a queer person of color himself (he is half Indian and half English), Curtis is a wonderful and dynamic representation of the kind of nuanced role that queer people are able to play on screen.

While Curtis began his career in the theater, taking on roles in classic productions like Britannicus, his recent transition to acting on screen has been a resounding success, though not one without trepidation. While initially intimidated by the buzzing world of the television set, Curtis soon realized that the support system available to him on It’s a Sin was exactly what he needed to play his part on the groundbreaking program. A versatile actor, Curtis also starred last year in The Witcher: Blood Origin, a prequel to the original fantasy Netflix series that is a personal favorite of the actor.

The Untitled Magazine caught up with Curtis to chat about his transition from the stage to the screen, It’s A Sin, and The Witcher: Blood Origin. Read the full interview from “The REBEL Issue” below.

Nathaniel Curtis photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a coat and jacket by SHEK LEUNG, bracelet by Azza Fahmy, and rings by Stephen Webster

How did you first get involved in acting? 

The primary school Nativity was my way in, ha! I played Mr. Tick, the schoolteacher. No disrespect to Mary and Joseph, but I think that playing an original character at the age of four was groundbreaking for me. Then, as a teenager, I attended an after-school drama class and went on to study drama as a subject until I was 18. I applied for drama schools the following year and attended East 15 Acting School.

What other actors have inspired you throughout your career and why?

Heath Ledger’s death really affected me. I was only a teenager, but my respect for him was so great, and that’s the first time I remember being really struck by an actor’s performance. As my knowledge of the industry widened, Helen McCrory became someone whose performances I loved.

You initially were very focused on stage productions – how did you find the transition to TV and film? 

I have always loved the theater. There’s something so electric about being in the auditorium and listening to everything go quiet as the show begins. I didn’t get to see a lot of theater growing up, so it’s a love that I’ve really been able to explore as an adult. The energy is completely different when working on a screen production though; this was something that I learned completely on the job, and I was so lucky to have the most patient and understanding people and crew there to teach me. I do love both stage and screen; they’re both so exciting for completely different reasons.

You played Ash Mukherjee on the hit TV series It’s a Sin. Was Ash a challenging role for you? What was your biggest takeaway from working on that production? 

I was incredibly fortunate with It’s a Sin. The script was so deep and rich that it just came alive from the first readthrough in the most stunning way. It was my first screen job, so I was very nervous at the start, but the support throughout was so generous that I never struggled. It was the best production to learn the tricks of screen acting from and I’ll be forever grateful to have been involved. The entire cast and crew were superb and I count myself very fortunate to have worked with such a fine group of people that I’ll truly love forever. Ash was so gentle, and that was so appealing as I hadn’t really seen a character like that played by someone who looks like me.

Were you expecting It’s a Sin to make the massive splash that it did? 

Absolutely not. It was insane in the most remarkable way. We loved making the show so much and when it was released a year later, in the middle of a lockdown, we were so surprised by the positive response. But it was so lovely to be able to go through it together.

How do you think It’s a Sin pushed the conversation about HIV/AIDS forward?

It made strides in the actual testing of HIV here in the UK, and the conversation it sparked in public health was such a shock. It was spoken about in politics, culture, and medicine. We weren’t taught about it in school at all, so for it to be brought to the forefront and see it be so widely acknowledged was something so special.

Nathaniel Curtis photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing a jacket and skirt by Kay Kwok with a necklace by Azza Fahmy

Can you tell us about The Witcher: Blood Origin spin-off and your role in it? 

I can say that when I read the script for the first time, I was hooked, and the readthrough was so amazing to sit through. The character is so beautiful, and I had such a fun time making it. There are such special people in it and the scale of the show is insane. I’ve never worked on anything so big in my life!

Were you a fan of any of The Witcher franchise properties before landing the role of Brían, such as the books, video games, or original Netflix show?

I actually am a massive fan of the original show. I like fantasy in general and I think The Witcher is so brilliantly done. It’s such an honor to be part of the universe. 

What were some highlights from your time in Britannicus at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre this summer ?

Oh my, so many. It was strange to return to a stage after so many years away, but it was wonderful. Classical history is something that really interests me, so it was a great opportunity. I also worked with the most incredible cast and crew, lovely, fun, kind people who I completely adore. It was sensational to learn from such immensely talented actors.

As an LGBTIQA+ British-Asian actor, how do you feel the acting industry has progressed when it comes to representation? What strides still need to be made in your opinion? 

I think the industry can be very difficult at times. Ash was such a wonderful character because there are so few people like him played by people like me. It’s absolutely getting better, and that must be celebrated, but the strides that need to be made are by people much more powerful than I am.

Who are some actors or directors you would love to work with in the future? 

Olivia Colman, Jodie Comer, Denis Villeneuve, David Fincher, Noma Dumezweni, Jason Isaacs, and Elizabeth Debicki. They’re all such crazy-gifted people. Harry Lloyd has always fascinated me; I think he’s such a beautiful actor.

What does it mean to be a rebel in show business today?

Bravery in your own voice. Also, having a fantastic and individual sense of style.

Do you have a motto or any words of wisdom you live by?

Treat yourself well. You’re the person you spend the most time with.

Nathaniel Curtis photographed by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine wearing rings by Stephen Webster

To read our print feature on Nathaniel Curtis, pick up your copy of “The REBEL Issue” here.

Photography by Jemima Marriott for The Untitled Magazine
Styling by Rebekah Roy
Grooming by Diego Miranda
Skin by Michelle Webb
Styling Assistant Melody Rawles
Photographed on location at Jump Studio in London, UK

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