It takes a strong actor to hold their own on screen alongside heavyweights like Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. Yet in The Killing of a Sacred Deer by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, 15-year-old Raffey Cassidy turns it up to 11 as the coquettish daughter of a reckless surgeon. Born into a creative family that includes a father who lectures on acting and several siblings who also work in the entertainment industry, it was only a matter of time before a young Raffey signed up to the family biz. Her entry into film was sheer luck. Her older brother was auditioning for a role on a BBC drama and “I just happened to be there,” Cassidy recalls over the phone. “The [casting agency] needed a girl and it just snowballed from there.”
Cassidy traded up from bit parts on TV to Tim Burton’s remake of Dark Shadows  age 9, playing a young Eva Green. It wasn’t until her role in Tomorrowland  that her talents came to shine in a starring role as a wise android named Athena. The two years between Tomorrowland and The Killing of A Sacred Deer bore witness to astonishing growth that saw her pegged as the next Carey Mulligan. Though her quick rise brought her to dizzying new heights, it was getting the part of Kim Murphy in Sacred Deer which left her feeling faint. “In London, I did an audition with Yorgos [Lanthimos], which was cool because I had to do weird things like speaking as fast as I can and when I needed to breathe, I had to faint,” she says. Lanthimos, impressed at her fainting skills, cast her as Murphy. “A week later I found out that I got the part.”
In the psychological thriller, a family is thrown off course when a mysterious boy (Barry Keoghan) comes into their lives with sinister intentions. Without giving too much away, Raffey explains, “It’s about people having to realize the consequence of their own action.” This methodology of extreme emotional output and contrasting stoicism makes her performance a standout in Lanthimos’s darkly twisted film, which she sees as “very specific to Yorgos’s style—he has his own genre.”
Acting aside, Cassidy has taken a strong interest in fashion, sitting front row at shows for Louis Vuitton and Burberry and meeting their respective creative directors. It may even be her next big move. “Recently I decided as well as an actor I would also like to be a fashion designer,” she says. “I would like to study it in university”.
When asked if her school friends have seen her work, she says, “They are interested and find it quite cool. Hopefully they will enjoy The Killing of a Sacred Deer. It’s quite dark so they’ve got to be prepared when they watch it.” Though her high school years still lie ahead of her, she’s seemingly already graduated to Hollywood’s inner circle.
THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER IS IN THEATERS NOW.