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Home | Interviews | Interview: Natalie Erika James, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote and Emily Mortimer (Relic)

Interview: Natalie Erika James, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote and Emily Mortimer (Relic)

Relic, from IFC Films, is one of the biggest horror releases of the year.  Relic is available everywhere in select theaters, drive-ins and digital/VOD. This cast is so talented and it was an honor to be a part of this incredible roundtable discussion with the director Natalie Erika James and this phenomenal cast, Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote.

“IFC Midnight invites you to preview RELIC, writer/director Natalie Erika James’ unforgettable and auspicious feature debut. When elderly mother Edna (Robyn Nevin) inexplicably vanishes, her daughter Kay (Emily Mortimer) and granddaughter Sam (Bella Heathcote) rush to their family’s decaying country home, finding clues of her increasing dementia scattered around the house in her absence. After Edna returns just as mysteriously as she disappeared, Kay’s concern that her mother seems unwilling or unable to say where she’s been clashes with Sam’s unabashed enthusiasm to have her grandma back. As Edna’s behavior turns increasingly volatile, both begin to sense that an insidious presence in the house might be taking control of her. All three generations of women are brought together through trauma and a powerful sense of strength and loyalty to face the ultimate fear together.  RELIC had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 to critical acclaim, praising the film as a fresh and terrifying twist on the notorious haunted-house tale.”

HNN- Hello everyone, it’s an honor to talk to all of you. Relic has a sadness to it but it is beautifully made, the house stands out and Robyn, you are incredible in the film. I was wondering what challenges all of you faced while making this film? If there were any at all?

Natalie- There’s always challenges in making a film. I think for me, stepping up to helm a feature was, especially with working with such a brilliant cast was a big step for me. There are challenges that come with that. Also, dealing with personal subject matter can be challenging too because particularly in the writing process your drudging up your own shit to get at something truthful. Just as these guys have to do in their performances. That can be tricky. Challenges like logistical challenges, trying to figure out the transformation for example was a particularly fun, creative challenge. We probably designed about eight or nine stages to go from Edna to “the other” as we call as her at the end of the film and try to figure out how to make those transitions happen seamlessly with the combination of prosthetics and the effects. That was probably one of the more fun challenges. There is always stuff that goes wrong, I feel like if things are going too smoothly you are constantly worried about the fallout and what mishaps are going to happen.

Bella- For me, the main challenge was the labyrinth. Not, just because it was rough but because we shot it towards the end of the shoot and it was like the first time I felt like I was in it alone and up until that point, I’ve been really spoiled having Emily and Robyn with me and just being very held by their performances or just in a scene with them. All of the sudden I was just confronted with myself and running around kind of unraveling. By the last day I was definitely feeling a bit fragile.

Emily- Tell them about your prosthetics Robyn.

HNN- The special effects were amazing.


Robyn- I really didn’t enjoy the prosthetics process. In fact, I was so desperately uncomfortable. The first thing I had to do before we filmed, I had to stand in my underwear on a freezing cold factory floor, a concrete floor with three of four people, I think or three people applying, slapping all over, slapping me with cold, wet plaster. My whole body was encased in this and then they had to do my head as well. I hated every second of it and that’s a huge challenge when your working inside all of that stuff. I didn’t have to do much filming because there was a stunt person that did a lot of the stuff that I didn’t have to do fortunately, Thank you Natalie. But the stuff that I did do and the days when I was filming inside all of that were unspeakably uncomfortable and miserable so I was dealing with that, actually more than the character. But it doesn’t matter because that’s making a movie, ultimately it looks great on film so you have to give in to that. But I gave in to that with a very bad grace.


Robyn- But what I wanted to say was the first challenge is arriving, you fly somewhere, your put up somewhere, your driven somewhere and you meet people you’ve never met before and you suddenly be they’re mother or they’re grandmother with a crew who are all intimately involved in the process because their all so close to you and they’re watching you so that’s the very first challenge that you meet. I just thought I’d mention that because its not something you begin to talk about as an actress. I got out of that very quickly because of the nature of the people involved who were all very sympathetic and intelligent, smart and funny and, they knew what they were doing. So, it was lovely, it was all lovely. Horrible and lovely.


Emily- Oh my goodness. I was challenged right from the beginning as Robyn said, even getting to the job was a challenge. I was on a flight from New York that got held over in San Francisco for some reason for like, forty-eight hours. I was sent to an airport hotel which had no windows in it and I got sick, a stomach bug and I was vomiting in a hotel in the outskirts of San Francisco in an airport hotel for forty-eight hours before I got there and when I got there and because I was late I had to go straight to a rehearsal where we read through the script and it was a major challenge. It was like Oh my god, where have I come and why have I come here.

Bella to Emily – You also had to do the accent, how have we not spoken about that?

Emily- Oh yeah, I had forgotten about the accent, the accent was a major challenge and then my accent coach had gotten sick and didn’t appear for weeks and weeks.

HNN- Oh noooo.

Emily- Theres all sorts of challenges always. But I think as actors we’re kind of bottom feeders, I know that’s an awful phrase, a disgusting phrase but we’re like used to life being quite challenging. You have to fly to the other side of the world and meet a whole new group of people and you don’t know whether the thing is going to be good or bad, or what the hell you’re doing? I think we’re used to adapting to circumstances that are challenging so challenging is our middle name as actors.

HNN- I thank you all so much. And it was as if the three of you knew each forever. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Thank you. Relic was amazing.


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