|Portrayed by||Laura Prepon|
|“||Like I said: "getting inside your head." When I'm done, I'll do you better than you.||”|
Although her primary roles prior to this one were horror or slasher movies, Rhodes was well known for her very 'hands-on' style of method acting, going to great lengths to get inside the minds of the characters she played. Apparently, she once spent a month living in the crawl-space of her building when a film required her character to live in the same conditions (although she told the tabloids it was only a week because she didn't want them to think that she was obsessive).
While most of her films were apparently for an older audience, Alexis Castle had seen a few of them, although she denied it to Castle when she let it slip. Rhodes was also on Kevin Ryan's 'Five Freebies' list (the list of celebrities that he could sleep with without it being counted as cheating on his girlfriend).
When she got the part of Nikki Heat, Rhodes arranged to come to New York to observe Kate Beckett and get a feel for the 'real' Nikki.
Although Beckett found Natalie's shadowing amusing at first, she became increasingly unnerved every time Rhodes copied her mannerisms and phrases, particularly when Rhodes went so far as to order a wig and new clothes to increase the resemblance between them.From the beginning, Castle was very critical of Rhodes' acting and character, saying that she seemed shallow. He found it even more insulting when he discovered that Natalie had only read the screenplay and not the novel. However, the two eventually began understanding each other, wherein Castle softened up to her, seeing the 'depth' in Natalie, and Natalie finally decided to read Heat Wave, which she later tells Castle that she enjoyed.
Later, Natalie, realizing that the Jameson Rook that Nikki Heat had sex with in the novel is in fact based on Castle himself, offers to sleep with him at her place. Castle turns her down, later telling Kate that the two of them sleeping together, while she was posing as Nikki, would be "too meta". According to her, Castle is the only man who has ever turned her down. Surprised, Natalie approaches Kate and asks her if Castle was gay or if they were in a secret relationship. She then asks Kate to give Castle permission to sleep with her in the name of character research.
After Rhodes helped them talk down Stacey Collins' killer when he was caught (the murder had simply been an accident, but the culprit was about to kill himself), Kate's opinion of her improved, to the point that they exchanged pleasant goodbyes. ("Nikki Heat")
Months later, Castle paid a visit to Zenith Studios in Los Angeles, where the film adaptation of Heat Wave is being shot. Upon asking about Natalie, he was told that she had "...some personal issues..." and that there was a "...mix-up with one of her prescriptions...", a euphemism for being in rehab. ("To Love and Die in L.A.")
When in Season Six's "Need To Know" Castle declares the 'Nikki Heat' movie went straight to DVD in part due to "casting issues", Natalie may or may not have been one of the elements.