Nell Tiger Free In Two Looks And A Fresh Take On The Festive Face
PHOTOS BY THOMAS WOLFE NORTHCUT WORDS BY TAMARA RAPPA
HOT + COOL HOLIDAY
NELL TIGER FREE
THOMAS WOLFE NORTHCUT
THE WALL GROUP
THE WALL GROUP
Screened: Getting Into Character With Nell Tiger Free
Currently streaming on Apple TV+, Nell can be seen as Leanne Grayson in Servant, from M. Night Shyamalan.
How did you plan and develop your character, Leanne? I didn't really. Leanne is such a strange, new type of character. She's not the classic, run-of-the-mill, thriller antagonist. She's a type of character I haven't really seen before, and we wanted her to be fresh and new; someone you couldn't really pin down. We went in with a clean slate. Myself, Tony, and Night created her together.
What kind of voice does Leanne have? An American one. Leanne is always quietly observing. She's shy on the outside, and there's so much bubbling underneath. There are so many colors to her. She speaks in different ways to different people. She has a unique effect on each member of the household.
What kind of clothes does she wear? I don't know how you'd explain it! I think it's "Amish-Chic". Her clothes are dowdy on one hand, and strangely sexy on the other.
What is she intrigued by in life? I think because she comes from such a different place, Wisconsin, from the one she's presented with now, Philadelphia, Leanne is constantly watching and learning about how these grown ups act, behave, and tackle things. She's pretty much intrigued by everything she sees; everything from an eel to the way Julian is drinking throughout the day. Everything these people do is so foreign to her, it's so interesting to her, and she starts to assimilate the behaviors.
What is Leanne's relationship to religion? She clings to her faith, it's such a big part of her identity. And you see her struggle with it throughout the show. There are moments when it can be interpreted that she's abusing it, when she's hurt or upset. And she's consumed by it when she's trying to make things right. I think she has a complicated relationship with her faith. She doesn't understand how to utilize it. Underneath it all, is a young girl trying to cling onto something to believe in.
What does Leanne make her crosses from? I can actually make those now! It's just fine straw and two sticks tied together. I wind, and wind, and wind the straw around the two sticks. It's quite therapeutic, especially during a long day on set. When I was starting to make them, it was quite creepy. I was making the crosses constantly, and leaving them around the place.
What did Leanne play with as a child? Wherever she came from, there weren't toys. There weren't Barbie dolls. There weren't the things that Jericho has. Maybe something like the gift that Uncle George gives? I imagine she played with the resources that were around her, or maybe she didn't play at all. Maybe she was always quiet and stoic, trying to figure out the world.
Why does Leanne ask Dorothy to borrow her shoes? That moment in the series serves as a way to show the audience that Dorothy can absolutely be difficult. She can be a nightmare. Leanne adores her so much, and the shoes are the first beautiful thing that Leanne has ever owned. The shoes are not something you'd see on the feet of a Wisconsin farm girl at all. They're so precious to Leanne. The fact that Dorothy wants to borrow them is the bigger problem. Leanne will do absolutely anything to please Dorothy. In Dorothy's head, it could be as simple as, she just wants to borrow the shoes because she likes the shoes. There is always going to be a fine line of competition, and maybe even a little jealousy between both of these women. Leanne is a young girl and she's in the house taking over the role of (maybe) mother to this baby that Dorothy believes is hers. She's spending a lot of time with her husband, so there's bound to be competition between the two. Maybe it's Dorothy's way of showing that she can give Leanne things, but she can easily take them away.
Why her fixation on Campbell’s tomato soup? I'm very much a fussy eater, so the Campbell's soup was a great thing for me. The way I see the soup is that it represents a small part of the Leanne who is clinging to the simplicity of her old life. All of these big, crazy, gastronomic creations that Sean makes are taking her further and further away from her roots and from the things that she understands. So having that soup is her routine, she's very fixed on her routine, and it's something that doesn't confuse her. It's a comforting for Leanne to always be able return to the good old soup when there are live eels and crickets crawling around the house.
Who are the “ones that deserve Leanne's help” according to her uncle? They are the ones who are void of sin, whether that's her family (if she has a real family), or whether they are people who are devoutly religious, or whether he even means a person at all, is still up for debate. But it's definitely not rich people living in the heart of Philadelphia who display sin and envy. Those people are not ideal candidates for help from the Lord.
How does Leanne feel about Dorothy? When Leanne first arrives at the house, Dorothy encapsulates everything that Leanne admires. She's everything she aspires to be. She's beautiful and outspoken and strong-minded. She doesn't let anyone push her around, and that's a constant throughout the series. As Leanne learns more about Dorothy, she learns that she's really just a woman struggling with something that you can't quite put into words. She starts to see the cracks in Dorothy's veneer. And those affect her because she sees Dorothy as this perfect, unattainable, goal-of-a-human-being. When she sees that Dorothy can be rude and cruel at times and do things that Leanne doesn't agree with, it challenges her because she looks up to Dorothy so much.