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‘It was so funny that I was laughing my head off’ – Actor and stunt double Kiran Shah talks There’s Something In The Barn

5 min read

has a long and unusual history with films, from Yuletide slashers such as Black Christmas through to critter classic Gremlins and 2022's bad, bad Santa in Violent Night. With the release of It's A Wonderful Knife coming just in time for the festive season, it will be joined by another snow-covered flick in the form of Magnus Martens' There's Something In The Barn.

Ahead of its release on December 1, actor and stunt double – famed for his work in the Harry Potter franchise, Lord Of The Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia – spoke to FILMHOUNDS about playing the film's villainous elf, working in subzero temperatures, and how to get into the stunt world.

 I'd love to speak with you about how you got involved with There's Something In The Barn?

It's a good story actually! I was having dinner with Magnus (Martens, director) and Mika (Orasmaa, DOP) and I asked how did you find me? And Mika said his wife was watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and saw me playing Ginarrbrik. She thought, “Look there's a little guy we could use in our movie” so she told Mika to come see and they spoke to the production company straightaway. They then sent me the script and it was so funny that I was laughing my head off. So of course I said yes. 

Did you know much about the Nordic version of elves before playing one? They're quite different from their portrayal in Lord Of The Rings which you also starred in.

I read the script so I knew what sort of elf I would be but I also did some research and went to an exhibit and found some books on the nisse and found a story about the barn and forest elves. I also asked Magnus and the others for advice since they had created him. He was very enjoyable to play and he very much had a beginning, a middle and an ending which I could play very differently. The elves are not meant to be horrid and naughty, they are very friendly if you just treat them right and follow the rules. Give him his porridge and he will help you and do all of your jobs but if you don't then he will not.

It looks like it would have been extremely cold on set especially since it was filmed in Norway and not on a Hollywood backlot.

A lot of the interior scenes were actually filmed in a studio in Lithuania but when it came to some of the exterior scenes in Norway it was actually minus 25 degrees at night. However, because wardrobe looked after us so well and so we didn't get sick, we were wrapped up really warm. We had many layers, thermals, and hand warmers. and we were nice and toasty. So it was quite surreal as there we were in the freezing snow but we were warm and cosy and having to pretend to be cold again.

Were you able to do all your own stunts since that is something you are known for as well as acting?

No, Magnus was adamant about me not doing any stunts because as an actor you can not risk getting injured. So there were stunt actors to do all of that which I totally understood. If I had insisted on doing one and broken my arm, it would have delayed filming and as an actor, you can't do that. 

Was there a favourite scene that you most enjoyed filming?

Yes, the part where I jump onto the bonnet of the car – that was the closest I got to doing any stunt work on this film and it was a lot of fun. The first take was a little icy and I almost fell flat on my face. Luckily, I was able to save myself but I still enjoyed it. It was a really good scene. 

I've seen some reviews of the film stating it is just the right blend of comedy and horror and will be rotated in people's festive viewing along with the likes of Gremlins, Rare Exports and Krampus. Why do you think there aren't that many Christmas ‘horredy' films?

I think perhaps because it is hard to get the balance just right and to make the characters work. You can't go too over the top and where there is violence it has to be funny and that can be very difficult for a director to get it to work just right. That is why There's Something in the Barn works so well as every violent act is really funny. 

I thought the film had a great cast but I was particularly impressed with young Towns Bunner. What was it like working with him?

Towns was wonderful, we all took him under our wing and helped him by giving advice. We'd all talk to him before every scene about what was going to happen, how we were going to play it and he took it all on board and listened and learned. Magnus was very good at directing him too and Towns was excellent at following. 

Do you have a favourite festive film? 

Home Alone 2. I was so lucky to work with Tim Curry in Legend and I just love how he plays with Macauley Culkin, it's such a funny, brilliant movie. 

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into stunt work these days?

You need to be multi-disciplined now – you need martial arts but also maybe gymnastics, cars, motorbikes, at least six different disciplines these days and you need to train for around three years. You must have reached certain levels too, for example at least a brown belt in Judo, before you can even start to apply. It is really hard work in itself and you have to know certain rules too like not to bother the actors on set. 

There's Something In The Barn screened at  on September 23. It will have a UK Theatrical and digital release on December 1.