London actress Nadia Lamin is a student of the method-acting principle, which she learned at East 15 Acting School in Essex. That is where she learned to harness the importance of finding the truth in her characters’ words and the reasoning behind the actions of each character she plays. This training put her talent to the ultimate test in her newest project, Hosts, directed by Richard Oakes and Adam Leader. Hosts is a supernatural horror-thriller about a family who find themselves at the mercy of two vicious attackers, Jack (Neal Ward) and Lucy (Samantha Loxley) during Christmas Eve. Lamin plays Lauren who takes it upon herself to save what’s left of her family before it’s too late!
Jason Sheppard: Can you start by telling us about yourself and your path to acting?
Nadia Lamin: I grew up in North Africa before moving over to the UK when I was nine. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I fell in love with drama club in primary school. My mom thought it would be a good idea to put me into a stage school and then from then on, I caught the acting bug, as they call it.
JS: What was your early acting training and experiences?
Nadia Lamin: I had a professional acting job when I was 15. I was in the background, but I had to audition for it. That was my first experience on set. I earned a diploma in performing arts, did two years of drama school, then studied for an additional three years. I started with the stage and studied the Stanislavsky method which is finding the truth in your character and really embodying them, and knowing every inch of who you are playing. From there, I fell into film from a few people who were learning about film making. I started off in a short film called Viewpoint, working with a director called Patrick Ryder. From that he hired me to be in his multi-award-winning short film, Human, [for which Lamin won the award for Best Actress at The Rob Knox Film Festival]. Then we co-directed, co-wrote, and co-produced another short psychological thriller called Chimera. That’s where I met Richard Oakes which led me into Hosts.
JS: Talking about Hosts, besides the people who you just mentioned and who you established a connection with, what about the project attracted you to it?
Nadia Lamin: I got a call from the writer, Adam Leader about three years ago, and he said they’ve written a feature and wanted me to play Lauren, one of the female leads. He then elaborated about how it was this family drama but with big horror elements, and my part would require a huge emotional performance. They sent it over to me, and I was sure that I was going to just do it because I knew that anything that was created by these guys was going to be awesome.
JS: It really is quite an emotional performance as when we meet Lauren she’s rather content with where she is in her drama-free life, but as the story progresses she’s forced to confront some very extreme situations.
Nadia Lamin: Lauren goes through such a huge character journey. When the story starts, she’s selfish and doesn’t want any responsibilities. She doesn’t want to grow up, and she keeps her partner at arm’s length. Then these two entities enter the house and completely turn her world upside down. She goes through a real emotional, traumatic experience and ends up becoming a different person at the end. We don’t want to be too spoilery, but she has a huge arc, and that’s what really led me to want to play her. She has a lot of complexities.
JS: What did you think about the juxtaposition of a grisly horror movie taking place during Christmas?
Nadia Lamin: I thought it was brilliant. What Richard and Adam wanted us to achieve was that this could happen at any time to any family and give realness to it. They set it on Christmas where everyone’s piled into one room and sometimes drama kicks off. We wanted to bring that element into the story where there is an underlying family secret that hasn’t been expressed which is sizzling underneath the surface.
JS: Not only do Christmas movies usually look amazing on film, but there is also that universal element of going to the annual Christmas Eve dinner which for many people is a horror in itself. Do you think admirers of your previous work will be a bit surprised to see you in this movie?
Nadia Lamin: I don’t think that I have portrayed a character like this that goes through such horror, and it was quite an exposing experience. The level of emotion is so intense and tiring and exhausting to conjure up from inside you. A lot of people who follow me on Instagram know that I am quite bubbly and light, and I like to joke around. Hosts shows me in a completely different light, and I think they will be shocked but I wouldn’t say surprised. When Richard and Adam hired me, they knew I was a dramatic actress and that they felt the intensity and darkness was something I could portray. It depends on if people have seen me in my other horror movies, but I think people who know me better will be surprised by my character.
JS: I’ve watched some of your other interviews, and you are very bubbly and always laughing, and here’s this intense, grizzly movie. How did the actors get along?
Nadia Lamin: Oh, we got along so wonderfully. I had previously worked with Neal Ward who I think is such a fantastic actor. We had a great connection, especially with some intense stuff that happens in the film. It’s usually me and his character, almost face to face. The other actors I met on set—Samantha Loxley, Jennifer Preston, Frank Jakeman, Buddy Skelton, and Lee Hunter—we just got on like a house on fire. There wasn’t a huge amount of rehearsal time, so when I turned up to shoot, we did what we called the scene, the dinner table scene. We just clicked, and from my experience, people clicking that fast is quite rare. We were able to portray a real family dynamic within such a short amount of time, and kudos to the directors who cast us all together. Everyone was there for support. It was such a lovely experience to be part of.
JS: It seems like the director knew the right pairing and the right group of people he wanted to do this with and that they’d all be there for each other. Home invasion horror movies have always been popular going back to ‘70s Wes Craven movies. Why do you think they remain so popular?
Nadia Lamin: I think with the home invasion element, when you are an audience member watching a home invasion film you go, “Oh, my God, could that really happen?” It starts to put you in their position because it’s not something far-fetched. It’s that feeling that it can literally happen to anyone, and I think that creates an exhilarating feeling. People watch horror for the thrill, for the high. I think that’s why home invasions are so popular. I also feel like home invasions are an opportunity to be inventive. You don’t need or have the biggest budget in the world for a home invasion movie. It’s one location so when you have great actors and a great concept you don’t need to cloud it with loads of money. It is what it is.
JS: I’ve always believed that the lower the budget, the more adventurous a film usually is. Can we touch on COVID-19 for a second, which is another horror in itself? Did you make this movie before the lockdowns?
Nadia Lamin: Oh, yeah, we shot Hosts in May 2019 because we had it written and ready to go in 2018. We held a fundraiser for production in 2018, and then when 2019 came around, we were actually scheduled to shoot it at the beginning of the year, but things got held back, so we just went for it in May. We did have two days for pickup shoots in January 2020, so it was all pre-COVID.
JS: Did the pandemic affect the movie’s release, or did you exempt exhibiting the film? Was that impacted in any way?
Nadia Lamin: From what I understand from the directors and producers, the film was quite popular with a couple of very well-known film festivals, but because of COVID they had to strip back the amount of people they were accepting into the festivals. Because ours was a low budget, we don’t have Jack Nicholson in the cast, it did affect it in that way. However, that being said, we had some amazing feedback from well-known production houses who watched it, and they loved it and wanted to congratulate the directors for achieving what they did with such a micro-budget.
JS: So, for you, what kind of horror movies do you tend to love? Which ones are your favourites?
Nadia Lamin: I would say I love the more psychological thriller stuff like The Shining and Hide and Seek. I love when things start to get very complex and mess with your mind like Shutter Island as well.
JS: My favorite is Cape Fear. To this day I still say it’s the most frightening movie I ever saw.
Nadia Lamin: Yes. I love Cape Fear. It’s so terrifying and the performances are so out there and outrageous In a good way. I haven’t watched that for years but I love it. Martin Scorsese—his birthday was recently, wasn’t it?
JS: It was yesterday. Yes.
Nadia Lamin: Happy birthday, Martin Scorsese!
JS: I certainly hope he reads this. I just saw in a video interview you gave where you said you love Poltergeist as well?
Nadia Lamin: I love the Poltergeist movies. That was my first horror movie that I ever watched. When I was living in Libya, we didn’t have TV channels and such and with my mom being English, my family over here in the UK would send us films and stuff, so I was watching my brother’s hand-me-down films like Indiana Jones, Rocky, The Terminator and Poltergeist was one of them. I remember watching that at a very young age and just loving it and relating to the little girl Carol-Ann. It was quite a complex story with wonderful performances.
JS: Oh, absolutely, and in terms of craft in how it’s put together so amazingly, and just in terms of camera framing and placement, and, of course, the music.
Nadia Lamin: Yes. Everything gets to you, and everything slowly kind of gets into you pause and washes over you, and it’s just so magical. I love that movie because it is so well done.
JS: Yeah. That’s the type of music I listen to when I’m writing: Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Thomas Newman.
Nadia Lamin: I love to listen to them, too, especially John Williams and Thomas Newman. I’m such a big fan of their scores, and they have such great a concentration of music. I have a playlist of their music on my phone and when I’m preparing to go on set, or if I’m on set, I’ll put that playlist on and I’ll listen to it to help put me in a magical element feeling of “come on, let’s do this.”
JS: This perfectly leads me to the final question: you just mentioned playing music on the set, and you seem at home on sets and in love with the entire creative process, and you created your own Film Production Company, TRENCH Films. Do you think there is any chance that you might want to direct in the future?
Nadia Lamin: I can’t lie, it has been thought of. When I came out of drama school I was pushing my own career and making opportunities happen for myself, in which case that was writing and producing. I actually co-wrote a feature with Richard and Adam called Dirge. I love the creative elements of how film gets made and I love to know everyone’s job and I made that my kind of my mission almost. Making a film is a team-building experience and I would love to be to. make something one day, for sure. That was a very long-winded answer. But yes, I would like to.
JS: I look forward to seeing that and I think it’d be really something quite unique coming from someone who loves all aspects of creating. Can you tell us what projects you have coming up?
Nadia Lamin: I am just about to film another feature film called Giddy Stratospheres which isn’t horror. It’s an indie musical, and I play a character called Zee and it’s directed and written by Laura Jean Marsh who is a very talented young actress, producer, and writer. She’s a triple threat—or a quadruple threat. That’s scheduled to be shooting soon obviously keeping to the COVID regulation so, hopefully, that will be out next year. So keep an eye on that.
JS: Thank you for your time. Good luck with Hosts and your next projects.
Nadia Lamin: Thank you so much, Jason, and have a great day writing and listening to John Williams.
Hosts from Dark Sky Films is now available on Amazon Prime and DVD.