From Metal Lords to Red Rose, the rising star is taking over the drama sphere of Netflix.
Whether heavy metal is your bag or not, it is almost impossible not to fall under Isis Hainsworth’s spell in Netflix’s explosive comedy film, Metal Lords. Sweet on the outside yet equipped with a sharp tongue and a sizeable knack for screaming, Isis takes on the role of the charming yet formidable Emily — a lead character and cellist who is recruited by two high schoolers who want to start a heavy metal band. Despite the school taking no interest in heavy metal and her girl-next-door aesthetic, Isis’ character quickly becomes the spearhead for a new era of heavy metal — and has all of us head bopping along to her groove.
Yet proving her skills are by no means limited to the slap-stick humour of a feature film, Isis has also dipped her toes into the world of horror, starring in Netflix’s drama series, Red Rose. And, starring alongside Billie Piper, Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey in the Lena Dunham-directed medieval coming-of-age comedy Catherine Called Birdy this Autumn, it would appear there is not a single genre, time period or character type that Isis has not been able to dominate.
While Isis may self-proclaim as “not the best” at interviews, we sat down with the young rising star to discuss her experience on the set of Metal Lords, where she sees her acting going next and the story behind her name. And – just as her own character Emily managed – Isis Hainsworth defies all expectations and, in fact, was the ultimate interviewee.
To watch the trailer for Metal Lords and for the full interview, scroll below…
Hey Isis! How has this past year been for you so far?
It’s been great, actually. It’s been nice trying to get back to a bit of normality with COVID and all of that. Metal Lords came out, and that was quite a mad experience. It’s a lot to get my head around, really. I’m not used to that many people following me on Instagram. But yeah it’s been great, I’ve enjoyed this year so far.
If you had to pick peaks and pits, the best thing that’s happened to you so far this year and the worst, do you have any that come to mind?
Oh god. Metal Lords coming out was a pretty good one. I don’t think that can really be topped really. And my worst is definitely the few people on Twitter being nasty. But that is literally to be expected in this industry. People can say whatever they want, but I’ll get my head around it.
I hope that doesn’t continue! So, let’s start at the very beginning! How did you first get into acting and what sparked your interest?
I mean, really, really early when I was a proper small child, I was always a drama queen, you know, just performing for myself in my bedroom and like being very melodramatic. And I wanted to be a full-on dancer for quite a long time. Through that, I started discovering musical theatre and performing and being on stage and I loved it. Then I did some acting and that was the thing that I went “oh, this is the thing for me. This is exactly what I want to do”.
And did you ever get nervous before your performances?
Oh, definitely. I still get really nervous. I definitely prefer being on stage as someone else rather than being myself, you know, doing an interview or something I find way scarier than just getting on stage.
Do you remember your first onscreen appearance? And how did it feel?
Yes. I was in a show called One Of Us on Netflix. It was pretty cool. And that was the first time. When I first got that call that I got that part, it was kind of mad actually. That was the first time I thought maybe this isn’t just a pipe dream. Maybe I could actually do this as a job.
That’s so cool! And what is your favourite type of character to play? Do you lean towards any specific character profiles? Or do you just take whatever comes?
Well, that’s a good question. I’m definitely drawn to dark, angry characters. It’s a bit weird. But really, I want to be able to play everyone. I don’t want to get into a corner, I love playing a big range of people. I also want to really push myself to always just be better and better. And I think playing different characters really, like, helps you do that. And the freedom to be able to play everyone as well. A choice about who I get.
Do you feel like you have that?
I hope so. A few years ago, some people thought because of the way that I live forever that I would be one type of character. And hope that in the past few years I’ve shown that I can play different types of people.
Absolutely. And talk to me about Metal Lords. What was the filming experience like?
That was pretty crazy. That was my biggest job at that point, I suppose. It was the first time I’ve ever been to America and it was in the middle of COVID. It was mad to be there and to experience it all for the first time. And again, it was in the middle of lockdown, so it’s been a pretty strange year already, so it was overwhelming, but I absolutely loved it. I think I work best in very intense situations. And I was very lucky that the cast and the crew, and everyone was still so wonderful and supportive. And the writer was so involved, and our director was so nurturing. You were really looked after, which was great.
Do you have a favourite moment from set that springs out to you?
I would say probably filming Battle of The Bands. We did that over three or four days. So it was pretty long, and by the end of it, all three of us were in serious physical pain (in the best way). And also because of COVID, it meant that we weren’t really on set with everyone all that often. And that was the one time when the entire cast was all together. And I remember there was a point when we were setting up on our first day, that all three of us were sort of looking out at the audience thinking “oh god, we’re actually going to have to do this, we’re going to have to start filming”, and we were all really scared. But then after doing it once or twice, the audience and the crew and everyone was so lovely that it was so much fun by the end. And being supported by the two boys was just great.
And speaking of Battle of the Bands, if you were to personally enrol in it, what would your winning song be?
Oh, wow. I’d probably do “Heart of Glass” or anything by Amy Winehouse, she’s my favourite.
And what was the reception like of Metal Lords? What did your friends and family say when they saw it?
Oh, they were lovely. I mean, they kind of have to be lovely. But I think Metal Lords is kind of niche and I think people either loved it, or they hated it. Like my grandma watched it because I was in it. And of course, she said that I was great. But it was totally not her thing. Which I completely understand, but then there’s like all these metalheads who loved it. I was never really into metal until Metal Lords really, and it was so interesting watching their response to it, and how much people really, really loved it. And also, you know, young people who identify with the characters and stuff. I get such lovely messages from people saying how much they relate to Emily. It was really wonderful watching people respond to it. People are really kind a lot of the time.
And you also starred in BBC and Netflix’s drama series Red Rose. Would you say that you prefer working in the horror genre?
That was the first time I’d ever done a horror thing, but it was really cool. I actually don’t ever watch horror films, I just get freaked out so easily. But it’s hard to get scared when you’re filming one because everyone’s on set and being normal. But I’d love to do horror again. I think that would be really fun.
So going back to what we were talking about before with trying to tackle as many types of characters as you can, are there any genres or character types you haven’t explored yet that you really want to?
Yeah, loads really. I want to do everything I can. When I was younger and in youth theatre I used to play the character rooms a lot, and I used to play men, and comedy roles – I did lots of physical comedy, that’s my favourite type of comedy to do, even though it’s very difficult as well. I just want to do everything possible.
And what can you tell us about your role in Catherine Called Birdy?
Oh, that was lovely. I play Alice, who is Birdy’s best friend. And she’s just lovely and sweet and kind-hearted. And she wears the most beautiful costumes I’ve ever got to wear in my entire life.
Did you get to keep any?
Oh, God, no. Julian Day was the costume director and designer. And I think he really just spoiled me basically. It was really fun. But there’s definitely a lot of sadness as well in her character just because she’s a girl living in that time so she experiences pretty awful, tragic things. Like many girls during that time period. But I’m very excited for people to see that movie. I’m very proud of it and everybody in it.
And you have so much going on career-wise. So what are you doing in your free time?
I’m one of those people who struggles to balance my work and personal life because my job is so intense for such a period of time, I get so used to being consumed by whatever job I’m on and then suddenly it’s like, “oh, and now you’re doing nothing for a period of months or whatever”, which is very strange. At the moment, I’m splitting my time between London and Edinburgh which is nice actually. When I’m in London, I try to do as much fiesta as humanly possible without breaking my bank. And when I’m in Edinburgh I like to spend time with my family and friends as much as possible and that’s where I try to just properly relax until I work again.
And what’s next for you? Do you have any particular goals for the near future?
I mean, really, I want to do something, a job that really pushes me a lot. I want to do something where I have to sort of eat, sleep and breathe that character. I always want something that’s really difficult. And just work with really interesting people. There are a few things that I would love to do.
What is one fun fact about yourself that I wouldn’t be able to find in a press release?
Oh gosh. So, people ask me about my name quite a lot. And they think it’s quite strange. And it is quite strange, especially in the last few years. So yeah, funnily enough, I’m not named after a terrorist organisation, I’m actually named after the Bob Dylan song, “Isis”!