Now and again, like clockwork, fate falls into our lap. Unexpectedly, of course, and according to many, is never truly a part of the original plan. A prime example of this holds form in extraordinary actress Nell Tiger Free, as she was scouted and promptly recruited into the entertainment industry at just eleven-years-old. Now, after letting fate take the reins and fine-tuning her craft, she can be seen in numerous star-studded productions, such as Apple TV’s original series Servant, which has officially aired its second season. In this exclusive interview, we chatted with Nell to discuss all things Servant season two, her musically-inclined hobbies, and where she hopes to find herself in the future.
Megan Morgante: Did anything or anyone, in particular, inspire you to pursue acting?
Nell Tiger Free: I was eleven when I was scouted. So, acting was never truly the plan. I just sort of fell into it and eventually realized that I loved it. Overall, the industry and work itself inspired me to keep going. I just love doing it.
MM: Can you give an overview of your past in the entertainment industry and how it led you to where you are now?
NTF: I did Game of Thrones when I was fifteen, which I felt very lucky and it definitely opened a lot of doors for me; I probably wouldn't be where I am without it. After GOT I shot a movie in Italy called Wonder Well, which will be out soon . And then following I did, Too Old to Die Young which can currently be found on Amazon Prime. That was really cool and we had the opportunity to shoot that in LA. Straight from there I went and started filming Servant, which is an amazing experience. I then shot a movie in South Africa called Settlers, which also is set to be out soon.
MM: Shooting Settlers abroad in South Africa was probably very exciting, tell us a little bit about that experience?
NTF: That was an amazing experience. I got to go to South Africa, which I've never been to before. I also had the chance to shoot guns and be a bit of a badass, which was great fun. It was so hot, I had to climb a mountain at 54 degrees Celsius. So, it was pretty unbearable some days but it was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had.
MM: So, let's get back into Servant, the second season aired January 15… congratulations! If you could give an overview of the series and what viewers can expect in the newest season?
NTF: Season two is season one, times twenty. There's fire, blood, tears, drama, sex, and violence, but I think that the integrity of the show is still very much there. We’re still telling a pretty difficult story. I know it's so cliche to say, “Expect the unexpected,” but genuinely, so much crazy stuff happens.
MM: What can we expect to see from your character, Leanne, in season 2?
NTF: She definitely steps into more of this bad b*tch kind of persona. We definitely see her shed her old skin of this very meek, agreeable person who just wants to please people. I think she starts to harness that energy not only as this supernatural being, but also as a woman.
MM: You also starred in the Amazon limited series, Too Old to Die Young alongside Miles Teller. What was your experience like working on that series and working with the cast and crew?
NTF: Miles [Teller] is an amazing actor. I was a big fan of his before we started shooting and he's a really great guy and I'm very lucky that I got to work so closely with him. I had some really hard days on set, because it's very intense, dark content that we’re shooting and I was on my own living in LA, it was a very heavy experience for me. Luckily, Miles looked out for me massively. I had very few scenes with other girls, so it was really myself, Miles Teller, and Billy Baldwin on set. I also only have amazing things to say about him [Billy Baldwin]. He's so funny, charismatic and so caring. Honestly, he'll sit and talk to anybody for hours; he's just got amazing stories to tell.
MM: What typically draws you to pursue certain roles, and is there anything that you look for when reading new scripts?
NTF: The last couple of roles I've played have been the contained, quiet, mysterious, watcher sort of characters, and I would love to do something that's completely on the other end of the spectrum. I'd love to maybe play a romantic lead or do some action work. I probably would have to go to the gym if I was going to do action [laughs], I can barely run for the bus.
MM: If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
NTF: Don't dye your hair [laughs]. Stop trying to please everybody all of the time in your industry because you're never going to please everybody. It's important that you speak up when you feel like there is something wrong or if you feel like you're not being treated properly. It's okay for you to be strong, and if you're going to be strong, it doesn't mean you're a b*tch, a diva, or a problem. It means that you know what you're worth and what you deserve. You deserve just as much as everybody else.
MM: Do you have any hobbies or passions that you enjoy partaking in while you're not acting?
NTF: Yeah, I love drinking [laughs]. I like to cook and I’m in a band with two of my great friends.
MM: Amazing! What type of genre do you guys play?
NTF: Oh my God, I couldn't even tell you. Kind of like bedroom rock pop, I don't even know [laughs]. We're going to try to get an EP together and hope to have that out before summer. So, really excited for everyone to hear the music.
MM: When did you get into music? Was that something that you grew up around or was that a passion that you developed over time?
NTF: I was seven or eight, I was at school and my music teacher told me that I was going to sing at the end of the school concert. I sang, I Dreamed a Dream from Les Mis. I guess I was okay and then my mom, sister, and friends told me that I was actually pretty good. Ever since then I’ve just carried on singing.
MM: Have you ever experienced any notable challenges throughout your career?
NTF: Absolutely. There have been projects where it's been amazing, everyone treats each other like family, and it's been a really great experience. Sometimes there have been outliers who do change the dynamic on set but I can say Servant has been nothing but lovely, kind, harmonious experiences for me. I’ve definitely had experiences in the past where men have tried to, make me feel small and have made me feel I can’t say what’s on my mind. They’ve tried to make me feel unintelligent and that I didn’t belong. I’m a people pleaser who hates confrontation and doesn’t like ruffling feathers so previously I have taken the approach to just be very quiet, keep my head down, and do the work. But as I get older and as a woman, I’ve realized I can no longer allow that - I want to be treated with respect and not walked all over. Growing up in this industry I’ve learned that I do deserve to be here and no one else can take credit for myself; other than maybe my mom and dad [laughs].
MM: If you could see yourself in the next ten years, what would you hope to have accomplished or where would you want to be?
NTF: Every time someone asks me this, I genuinely don't know what to say [laughs]. I would just love to be lucky enough to still be acting, lucky enough to be doing roles that I love, and still have the same group of friends I've had since I was a kid.
Photography by Zoard Heuze