Exclusive Interview: Natalie Imbruglia & Doug Dearth on Underdogs

Natalie Imbruglia and the director of the new drama discuss sports movies and the past, present and future of her music career.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

One thing we see in the character Charlie Carver plays is that sports today has gone to a rather bad place, with a lot of trash talking and negative behavior. How can we encourage excellence in competition and the good sides of sports, and get out of that negative space?

Doug Dearth: Absolutely, and I see it all the time living in L.A. My friends who have kids, you go to these soccer games with 10-year-old kids and the parents are just drill sergeants. I grew up in sports and that’s kind of kept me out of trouble but yeah, it’s the whole reason at the end we chose to have Charlie come over and congratulate his arch rival, because we wanted to feel like there was some hope that he wasn’t going to relive the sins of his father and [would] be a good sportsman.

All great boxing matches, the really classy boxers, when they lose, they go congratulate the other person for great sport. But I think we do need to do that. In fact, I’m only going to tease you, but the next film I’m working on is a sports film about a figure that never wins but is still the hero. I think that’s a really important message of sports these days, and for kids, just to compete on a healthy level and push themselves and have fun. Ultimately it isn’t about winning or losing in the end.

What is the next sports movie?

Doug Dearth: I can’t really say that yet because we’re in the middle of doing some rights, but it’s coming up. It won’t be football.

Natalie, I feel like you have a fairly rich history in cinema because there was a period where your song “Torn” was in every trailer in the late ‘90s. Did you notice a lot of clearance requests coming in for movie trailers?

Natalie Imbruglia: Yes, I did actually. It seems to be coming back around because they played it on “Glee” as well, so I noticed it was getting played a lot more on radio as well. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Back then, did you personally approve each trailer that wanted to use your song?

Natalie Imbruglia: I have a management team that was pretty good at being selective, who know me and what I like and what I wouldn’t say yes to. If ever they were unsure, they’d come to me, but not every single one.

The main one I remember the most is Message in a Bottle. Can we credit you for starting the Nicholas Sparks phenomenon?

Natalie Imbruglia: [Laughs] I’ll take it. I’ll take the credit.

I imagine you must have also been a subject on a lot of “I Love the ‘90s” shows. Have they gotten it right?

Natalie Imbruglia: I haven’t been approached as yet, but certainly I was big in the ‘90s. I certainly would be up for investigating that. It was a really good time of my life and I got to see the whole world and have some really great experiences.

What’s next for you in music?

Natalie Imbruglia: I am songwriting at the moment. I only recently got back into it because I was focusing heavily on the acting thing, which now I feel ready to try and juggle. So I’m just slowly making my way back into the studio and songwriting and we’ll see what happens.

Doug Dearth: I won’t throw you under the bus. Don’t let her fool you. Having worked with Natalie for five weeks in Ohio, I got to listen to some stuff that she played me and it’s phenomenal so I can’t wait to hear what she’s got.

Natalie Imbruglia: Thank you, Doug. Your’e so sweet.

Doug Dearth: It’s really beautiful and really sweet and great. She’s being very humble but she’s got some great stuff in her bag of tricks that she’s working on.

I remember you did an acoustic set for the Star Lounge here in L.A. Do you often play acoustically?

Natalie Imbruglia: I love doing intimate broken down things because I think my voice tends to suit that more. It sounds bigger and you hear it more. When I’m doing a full live band show, a lot of the intricacies can get lost. So it’s one of my favorite things to do, just a broken down acoustic set.

I must just be really sensitive because when it’s a fully produced recording, I hear more of the amplified sounds of the microphone. I like to hear the stripped down voice.

Natalie Imbruglia: Vocals are very important to me. When I go to see an artist, that’s usually what got me there in the first place. I know someone with a really good tone and a beautiful voice. If the band’s drowning that out it’s a little frustrating.