Raffey Cassidy on ‘Eye Acting’ and Unusual Roles
In cult-themed flick The Other Lamb, the U.K. actor continues her alt-cinematic rise.
Raffey Cassidy’s unconventional tastes are well proven: with films like Yorgos Lanthimos’s psychodrama The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) and pop-tragedy Vox Lux (2018), the former child actor has effectively emancipated herself from the typical young-adult track. Thus, The Other Lamb, a new picturesque thriller from Polish director Małgorzata Szumowska, naturally piqued Cassidy’s interest. “It’s actually rare nowadays to find characters my age who aren’t just ‘the daughter’ or a regular teenager,” the 18-year-old says. “[This role] seemed like a really special challenge; there were so many layers to her.”
Like her, Cassidy’s character seeks to eschew convention. Under the dubious leadership of a megalomaniac patriarch (Michiel Huisman), Selah (Cassidy) becomes the “black sheep” of a hyper-fringe sect. That scenario is made all the more treacherous by Szumowska’s scene-setting: Think flashes of mystical gore and sublime, isolated scenery.
On location in the freezing Irish countryside, the production tested the actors’ physical limits. “When you see us walking through those tough conditions,” Cassidy recalls, “[our reactions] are completely genuine. That was not acting, actually.” For the film’s subtler physical demands, Cassidy had unique advantages. “Małgo is a big fan of ‘eye-acting,’” she says, pointing to another throughline of her work; as a Lanthimos alum, her ocular acting muscles were well-oiled. “Yorgos loves the intense eyes and everything; I definitely got practice [working with him],” says Cassidy. “I feel like that’s something I almost prefer doing, as opposed to reading lines. It’s obviously easier to say what you mean, and a bit more challenging for [actors] to get what we want across without saying it.”
As its title hints, The Other Lamb also stars an ever-present flock of actual sheep. Besides serving up some serious eye-acting of their own, Cassidy’s non-human cast-mates revealed one acting convention that she can get behind: thou shalt not work with animals. “The big guy with the horns was called Jeffrey the Ram,” she says. “And I can say that no one wanted to play with Jeffrey [Laughs]…He could be quite aggressive, so we all kept our distance as much as possible.” In proving the showbiz adage, Jeffrey ultimately provides a valuable lesson for us all: that, sometimes, social distancing is key.
The Other Lamb from IFC Midnight is available to stream at home here.