Ahead of THE HEIRESS UK digital release on March 15, 2021, actress Candis Nergaard talks about the harrowing research for her lead that is causing a stir in Newsnight, her Roma roots and how she deals with lockdown.
Hello Candis. Thank you for the interview.
You are starring in a new UK supernatural horror film, THE HEIRESS. Tell us how you got on the part and what was about the script that spoke to you.
I was contacted early by director Chris Bell who had me in mind as an option for Claire. I read an early draft of the script and absolutely loved the part. It’s rare that I’m afraid of horror, but the script alone created such vivid images that it haunted me. I knew it would work. When the heiress was ready to leave, I was offered the role of Claire, I couldn’t wait to get my teeth into it. I’ve starred in television, radio, and theater, but this was my first for feature films.
What was the most challenging part of playing Clare for you?
It was the research I did for the role, it was staggering. Claire is epileptic. This element was the most important thing for me to try to deal with her properly, especially the one “Grand mal seizureSo I did a lot of research. Director’s father Chris is severely epileptic so Chris was able to guide me through this. There are videos of people with epilepsy who want to raise the public’s awareness of how the seizures can affect them. I would prepare to watch one of the videos and then create a lot of space between watching as it affected me so much.
It sounds like you put a lot into this role.
Genre fans are known for playing Anya in WHITE CHAMBER, which premiered at FrightFest. Do you like the horror genre?
I love the horror genre, it’s just so much fun from an acting point of view. White Chamber was a dream in that regard, as was working with the amazing cult scream queen legend Shauna Macdonald. Before that, I’d never really thought about acting in horror films, I’d done a lot of realism in the kitchen sink, and my role models were directors like Ken Loach, Andrea Arnold, and Gary Oldman. What’s unique about The Heiress is that it seems to merge a very realistic Loach-esq landscape with some really ornate real fears.
Horror expanded my mind with possible possibilities; I love to flee to the Shadowlands and explore the supernatural or a parallel universe.
You said that as a young child you were introduced to horror films by your father. What was the first movie you remember?
I think it was alien … it’s been so long. I remember sitting on my dad’s lap and having vague memories of eating canned ravioli … probably not an ideal meal considering …
I couldn’t think of a better movie to introduce you to the genre.
Although you don’t have a family background in the arts, you chose to take an acting class at Miskin Theater College, where you were tutored by actors like Neil Maskell and Dominic Power. That must have been a great experience …
It changed my path in life. I’m incredibly lucky to have been tutored by two exceptionally talented actors. Neil and Dom were very passionate about teaching and because they were so confident we really listened. It helped me develop an iron discipline for the craft.
It really helps when the people who teach you are so passionate about it.
However, it was a super intensive acting training. It was all a bit of a shock at the age of 16 and came from my background. I went from being naughty in class to paying attention, reading the news and listening to radio plays. It has expanded my worldview.
You first became acquainted with Tom Hardy in the gritty drama STUART, A LIFE BACKWARDS. Her role included controversial scenes of nudity and violence that were discussed at the end of Newsnight. Was it a difficult decision to take on?
Well, the script was amazing and based on a true story, so I really enjoyed the audition. When I was offered the role, I soon realized that I had to be naked. I was so body conscious that I would never wear a bikini at the time … However, I had worked with a great acting coach, Giles Foremen, and the integrity of work had become much more important than my fears, so I went for it. Tom was also very nice and eased my fears a bit by telling me about his nude scenes. I won’t forget Germaine Greer’s face on Newsnight.
You played in the BBC radio play series ATCHIN TAN and wrote several episodes of the series. What attracted you to the show and is writing something that you want to keep doing?
It was great to have authentic gypsy voices and the Roma language on the BBC radio. Many of the travelers had never played before, so it was exciting. I remember one day we were stopped by the local police … We were recording in a trailer in a remote Cambridgeshire field and a patrol car showed up so we got our BBC passports and showed them to the guy. He said, “Oh that’s fine, I thought you were gypsy!” We laughed at each other afterwards.
Are you still writing
I’m writing a lot right now. A few years ago I wrote and performed a play for a woman for the Gorki Theater in Berlin. I’ve just finished writing my first feature film and I’m working on another film with an award-winning Irish director named Keith Farrell. It occupies me between acting jobs and lockdown!
You are definitely busy!
You have also worked on PEAKY BLINDERS as your Roma language and culture advisor since Series 3. That must be an interesting role. Tell us more!
Tommy Shelby has to be one of the coolest characters of all time and constantly outsmart everyone. Translating and recording lines in the Roma language for Cillian Murphy was so much fun. It’s amazing to hear him nail it down. Script security is very strict, so I usually deal with isolated lines or sometimes selected scenes.
It’s such a great job.
How did you deal with lockdown?
It was a mixed bag. I realize what I’m grateful for and it brings everything into focus. Alienating my family is really difficult, and it continues to be, especially during times of grief and grief. I like a lot of alone time, beforehand I would normally flit back and forth between really sociable and then really quiet, so the lockdown gave me a lot of time to regroup.
I also really miss the gym and my Krav Maga workouts. It keeps my mind healthy especially under stress, but I’ve developed a routine that helps. I do my strength training five times a week, walk in nature, immerse myself in cold water, read / film and meditate.
What’s next for you
I’ve just made a female-led grit movie with a unique take on the criminal underworld called Gone to Ground, so I’m really looking forward to seeing that. I also hope that I can make my own film and get on with the other writing projects I have along the way.
When it comes to acting, I’m a bit superstitious when I talk about things that haven’t happened yet. One thing the pandemic has done is take the pressure off me to keep reaching. When I feel strong and healthy, I am on a winner.
Thank you for the interview and good luck with “Gone to Ground” and your writing project.
THE HEIRESS can be downloaded from Monday, March 15, 2021 from all major platforms including iTunes, Amazon and SKY Box Office.