Natalia Tena tells Katherine MacAlister she’s looking forward to a break from acting to enjoy gigs with her band.

NATALIA Tena is as mad as her film characters would have you expect.

Dishevelled, manic, chatty, down-beat, chaotic and charming, this 24 year-old is blase about her recent film successes in blockbusters such as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (she plays Nymphadora Tonks, above and About A Boy (punk schoolgirl, top).

In fact she’d like you to believe that she’s only a star by accident and downplays her entire acting career to date.

“Well I’ve only played small parts in films, which means you spend most of your time just hanging around in trailers, and I can’t deal with waiting around. I like to be out and about and doing stuff,” she says.

“And anyway, I was only working for about two or three weeks on About A Boy. And I know Hugh Grant was the lead, but we were never playing opposite each other or anything.”

Mention Harry Potter and you get the same response.

Natalia wasn’t into JK Rowling’s books when she went for the audition, fell over the table on stage and clinched the part of the clumsy character Tonks, so the legend goes.

“No, I wasn’t into the whole Harry Potter thing when I got the part, but I did fancy being a witch,” she admits.

“So I thought I’d better read the book for the audition and then I got it and got what all the fuss was about and now I’m really into it.”

But mention her boyfriend, or her band Molotov Jukebox, and you’ve got Natalia’s full attention. So what comes first then, the acting or the music?

“Oh, the acting just happened,“ she says casually, “but the music – I mean Elvis Presley was my idol aged five and I played the violin and piano from a really young age. I even chose my school (Bedales) because it had a really good reputation for art, and I wanted to be an artist as welI. I just wish I had more time.”

But then it’s hardly surprising Natalia’s finding it hard to pack everything into her already hectic life.

Currently playing Desdemona in a sold-out Othello at the Oxford Playhouse from Tuesday, she’s “in the next Harry Potter”, and looking forward to having some time off to write some tunes and devote herself to Molotov Jukebox.

“Yeah, they’re waiting for me to finish in Othello and then we can get down to writing some more songs and get more involved in the band this summer.

“I play the accordian, sing and write the songs. And my boyfriend – he’s just amazing, and he plays the violin and writes the songs as well,” she says.

“We have a bass guitarist and a drummer. Actually, we’re doing a gig this Sunday, just a little chilled one for the Saturday night left-over crowd,” she says.

“But we’ve gigged in Camden and Brighton – wherever we can really.”

“We did loads over the summer and then I got this play in December,” she adds wistfully, sounding as if she’s had to go back to school.

“I will always do music whenever I can because I love it. I will never stop doing it.

“But acting just happened, although it’s never come to the point where the two have conflicted. And the band is separate and it’s always been separate.”

But don’t be fooled, because Natalia didn’t get where she is by chance.

Underneath this tough-girl persona is a determined and focused actress who had an agent when she was still at school and personally decided to finish her education.

“I told my agent that unless I got a lead part I would stay at school,” she admits, “and now I am getting to the point where I can choose my parts a bit more.”

So is Tonks in all the future Harry Potter films?

“Well, I’m in the sixth one. And I haven’t heard about the seventh one yet, although Tonks features a lot in the book, but that doesn’t always translate to the film.”

Even Natalia can’t ignore what a huge global phenomena Harry Potter is.

“I’m not very good at dealing with stuff like that, so I just carry my fan mail round with me in a big bag meaning to answer it but never getting round to it,” she laughs, “but now I only reply to them if they send an SAE, because it actually gets quite expensive after a while.”

The Harry Potter global enterprise also sent Natalia to Miami to promote the film, because, having two Spanish parents, she is fluent in both languages.

“I went to Miami and stayed in one of those amazing hotels,” she recalls.

“It was mad. Like crossing MTV with this crazy Latino thing. I loved it, it’s a mental place and it was so much fun.”

Othello seems less so. Natalia says that after each performance, she’s “exhausted because it’s sad, you know, so I’m not just physically exhausted. It’s a weird one.”

But, luckily, she loves Oxford and is really looking forward to her week here. “I’ve done two or three plays at the Playhouse and I love it there. My friend lives there too, so yes, it’ll be a fun week.”