Nell Tiger Free Wants to Keep Scaring You With The First Omen


If Nell Tiger Free had a cinematic sweet spot, it undoubtedly would be the horror genre. The English actor has made a career of scaring the bejesus out of us with truly terrifying and suspenseful projects, including the Apple TV+ series Servant, Too Old to Die Young, and this month’s The First Omen. Needless to say, she quite likes it this way. Scary movies are what made Free fall in love with film in the first place. She suspects, just a little bit, she’s been rehearsing for this moment since she was a young girl. Free was a rambunctious second child who was always running around, screaming, and falling over. Desperate to channel that energy elsewhere, her parents enrolled her in a Saturday acting class, where her love for performance blossomed. Just starting out, Free wanted to do anything and everything horror because it was her favorite genre, but as she got older, she just wanted to make movies, no matter the genre. Still, the darker projects continue to find her. One could argue she loves the genre as much as it loves her.

“Little Nell is getting her wish whether she likes it or not,” Free says with a chuckle. Free’s younger self would certainly be pleased to see her coming up under the guidance of horror legend M. Night Shyamalan. The American director known for his supernatural plots and crowd-pleasing twists has become somewhat of a mentor for Free, who went from being age 19 to 24 while working on Shyamalan’s series Servant. “M. Night definitely nourished me to be able to come and do roles like this,” she says. “I always say I don’t think I could have played Margaret [in The First Omen] when I was 19. I couldn’t have walked on and done it in the way that, hopefully, I’ve done it now.”

Nell Tiger Free poses for photo shoot with photographer Nicole Nodland

(Image credit: Nicole Nodland)

There was a moment toward the end of filming the fourth and final season of Servant where Free considered veering off in a completely different direction. She thought maybe she’d do a rom-com or a musical and surprise people with something out of her wheelhouse. But then, The First Omen came across her metaphorical desk. “It felt like a real acting challenge,” she says of the film. “It felt like something that was going to push me and test me, and I was like, ‘You know what? Whatever the genre is, I love the script so much, and I love [horror]. Why wouldn’t I go do it?'” Just like that, Free was sucked straight back into the creepy, bone-chilling world she adores so much.