Like most 16-year-olds, Raffey Cassidy has just returned home from school, and is starting on her homework. Unlike most 16-year-olds, today that includes an interview—this very one—to promote her latest project: psychological horror film The Killing of a Sacred Deer, co-starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Alicia Silverstone, and directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, known for 2015’s The Lobster. “I have a really normal life, to be honest,” the actress swears over the phone from her family home in Manchester. Of course, “normal” is relative and, for Cassidy, shuffling between sets and school halls is exactly that.
As the youngest of five children, Cassidy grew up watching her siblings, 24-year-old Grace and 22-year-old Finney, navigate acting from an early age. “Grace was first and then when Finney started I remember seeing how much fun they had with acting,” remembers Cassidy, whose acting chops were first discovered when she accompanied her brother to one of his auditions. That eventually led to roles in 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman and 2015’s Tomorrowland, which she refers to as “the first big thing I’ve ever done.” It was beneficial that, throughout the process, she could take cues from veteran George Clooney. “Through observing him, it was helpful to see the way he not only acts but the way he behaves on set,” she recalls. “The way he treats everyone with respect was something that will stay with me forever.”
Cassidy’s experience on The Killing of a Sacred Deer was similar. “Because Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell have such different personalities, I learned so much from both of them,” she says. “Nicole was always such a caring person who made everyone feel comfortable on set. Colin always made you feel quite comfortable as well because he was always having a joke—which was necessary because The Killing of a Sacred Deer was so dark. We were always having fun and laugh- ing on set, which you probably wouldn’t expect.”
Comedy may be an area Cassidy explores next. “I want to see how it all goes down on set,” she says. Her future hopes also include pur- suing a career in fashion design, perhaps at Central Saint Martins or the New School’s Parsons School of Design. The interest was piqued after she sat front row at this past London Fashion Week. “I used to want to work in prosthetics for film,” she says, “[But] in the last year, I went to the Louis Vuitton and Burberry fashion shows and that set me on wanting to do fashion. I was so inspired by the runway.” Still, “I’m always changing my mind,” says Cassidy. “Acting has always been the one thing I want to do.”
Cassidy has her acting career on hold at the moment, as she’s currently finishing high school and preparing to take her GCE test (England’s GED equivalent). Even so, she has thought about her future dream cast: “Definitely Britt Robertson,” she says. “Saoirse Ronan—I haven’t worked with her but I’d love to one day. George Clooney, definitely. Obviously, I’d want my brothers and sisters in it.” Working with her siblings would indeed help her preserve the balance she’s struck between being a career actress and a teenager. “I enjoy having the two different worlds,” she says, before correcting herself: “No, the best of both worlds.” Considering all of the momentum she’s gained just over the past couple of years, though, it might not be long until the two become one.