‘The Baby’ star Michelle de Swarte finds humor in the scariest places

‘The Baby’ star Michelle de Swarte finds humor in the scariest places

‘The Baby’ star Michelle de Swarte finds humor in the scariest places

If you’re looking for a meditation on motherhood and caring like you’ve never seen before, look no further than The baby on HBO. While popular series like This is us— and television in general — generally represent parenthood and care as the only possible and meaningful natural development in an adult’s life, The baby plays a child-averse protagonist and suggests that his titular baby was born of evil. The 8-episode limited run is bleak and stylistically streamlined, making for a captivating and at times terrifying binge for those who may crave more thrills after catching up. Weird stuff† In The babythere is not a single parenting book or mommy blog that would prepare the main character for what is happening in her life.

Central to the series is newcomer Michelle de Swarte as Natasha, a 38-year-old single woman who lives in a spacious flat in London. After being frustrated by seeing her group of friends break up over family obligations and a game night ruined thanks to yet another pregnancy announcement, Natasha goes solo on a beach vacation to clear her head – only to find she’s saddled with a mysterious, scary baby that she is unable to get rid of no matter how hard she tries. The baby is only De Swarte’s second acting role to date after appearing in Netflix’s The Duchess† But seeing her as Natasha, you wouldn’t be able to tell – in this limited series, De Swarte is emotional and captivating as she processes what motherhood could mean for her. The actor’s resume also includes numerous fashion campaigns and runway shows as a model in the early years, television presentations and performance coverage, and more recently, stand-up comedy. Like Natasha, she has no desire to have children.

In a Zoom conversation with W from North London, de Swarte observes the discourse surrounding the show from afar. (The series won’t air in the UK until July 7th) “As far as I can tell, [The Baby] starts some important conversations. That’s what you would want from a show like this that revolves around the theme of motherhood and care,” she says. The show may be reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan Servant on Apple TV+, another horror series with a comedic twist that tells the story of a mother’s journey through grief after the loss of a newborn baby. “I think the common thread is when you have such a deep-seated void in your life, how it can manifest in very literal ways,” de Swarte says of how both shows can resonate with each other. Below, the actress discusses how stand-up comedy lends itself to the role of Natasha, her personal connection to the project, and her obsession with horror.

The baby is such a stylistic treat. How did you get into the role and what was the casting process like?

I was called to try out the role through a Zoom corporate gig in lockdown. I’m a stand-up comedian, so in lockdown I did all these Zoom gigs and one of them happened to be for the casting director’s partner. She happened to be in it, and she… [later] contacted my agent and asked if i could try for The baby

How does your background in stand-up comedy and modeling influence your performance? The baby?

I would say that modeling, in terms of transferable talents, didn’t lend itself much to this role. But stand-up comedy certainly did, just to be aware of what comedy beats are. Special if The baby is a comedy-horror, but a lot of the comedic aspects of the show tend to be of the absurdity of things and say them with complete conviction rather than, “I’m going to bring this in a funny way.”

This is your first lead role. What considerations were involved in the preparation?

I probably haven’t thought about what it means to star, but certainly in terms of playing Natasha and the prep, I’ve spent a lot of time with the creators and Nicole Kassell, the executive director, just to really get into the Natasha’s background and what had led her to the point where we meet her. I had a lot to root myself in. They also let me have a lot of say in the construction of Natasha’s flat. I need to see how it’s built, and choose the wallpaper, and what books I think are on the shelf. We made Natasha playlists, that sort of thing.

Are there aspects of Natasha’s ambivalence toward motherhood that you are dealing with?

I could understand why Natasha is emotionally and mentally where she was, and there are some similarities. Natasha and I are the same age, I have no children, I do not wish to have children. I could see how she felt when her friends made choices that would affect her life. I don’t feel that way. If my friends and relatives I love have children, I understand it’s my duty to meet them if I want to have a relationship with them, you know. But I could understand Natasha.

Are you excited for your friends who have kids to see the show and what their take on it might be?

Yes, one hundred percent! I’m at an age where a lot of my friends were really lucky to have kids if they waited. And for some reason, four of my best friends are now pregnant with their second child or have just given birth. I think it will be a journey.

What do you think The baby could say about caregiving or motherhood?

I trust that the public will get out of it what they need and what they want from it. But being part of the show, I thought it was about abandonment and how sometimes if you don’t fix things that happen in childhood, they can really affect your adulthood.

Are you a fan of horror and thrillers?

I’m a big fan of horror, and I always have been. Even last night after my performance I watched candy man and don’t breathe† But there are always movies I don’t want to fuck with! I saw, which I was not aware of, that there was a… Nightmare in Elm Street that came out in 2010. I was like, I really can’t give a fuck about that. Nothing touched me more than Nightmare in Elm Streetbecause it is [about] your dreams. My favorite horror movie of all time is the French movie High voltage† The soundtrack and acting are great, and there’s some strange entanglement going on too. The gore is the chef’s kiss, with a great French twist at the end. It’s really satisfying, I recommend it.

Did you enjoy acting in a horror series?

It was an absolute treat. If you’re a real horror fan, you’ll have to be okay with watching horror movies mostly on your own, because most people don’t like watching horror. So to be part of a whole crew and a team that made the genre was great. I loved being able to do a lot of jump scares, which Natasha does in this show.

When the opportunity opens up for The baby to go beyond the first season, is that something you would be interested in? And what’s next for you?

It’s a limited series so I have to accept the title that it is. But in terms of what I’m going to do next, I’m writing and developing a show – fingers crossed. I do stand-up comedy because now we get to go out in front of a live audience, which is so much fun, especially after filming. Being on stage in front of a live audience and getting instant feedback is really fun.

What have you been watching on TV lately that you enjoy?

i’m in the middle Sell ​​sunset† That has made me want to watch shows that are complete escapism about absolutely nothing. I wish I could say something more eloquent to you in this interview that would make me look like an intellectual type, but the truth is I look Sell ​​sunset, and I love it. It’s so bad and so good. The innocent escapism of it all, while what’s happening in the news is so heavy, we’ve all been in lockdown for years right now and we’re all just starting to get social again. When it’s done, I’m like, what have I learned? Nothing. There’s something very reassuring about that. [Laughs]†