Lamb: About the Animal Actors in The Indie Icelandic Film

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Lamb is an unusual film from A24 (the same company that brought you “Hereditary” and “The Witch”), in which a childless couple find themselves with a child at long last — but one who happens to have the head of a lamb. The film uses real sheep, puppets and CG to create the the title character Ada and features a memorable cat and an award-winning dog.

How did they create the half-human, half-lamb creature?

“The creature effects of the final scenes are quite striking, and the hybrid form that plays a central role is an inspired mix of puppetry, CG and physical performance, a presence both funny and poignant,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The lambs were cute, but not the best at taking direction

“I feel like some of the lambs really – maybe they were good in the auditions, but they didn’t perform on the day (we were filming),” Rapace says.

Noomi bonded with the lamb who played Ada.

“There’s a scene where I’m making a flower crown for her and I put it on her and we’re out in the field and it’s a really beautiful moment. Our faces were really close, and everything became so still, it was like we were communicating through breath. It was a really magical moment.  I felt like she she just really tapped into me somehow…. And then sometimes she did not do that, ” Noomi says in the Instagram clip below.

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She really delivered a lamb in the movie

“The farmer was standing next to the camera and ready to jump in if something went wrong. And I was like, I have this life just here in my hands. And the baby lamb was standing up and drinking milk for the first time. And it was so magical and scary at the same time,” the actress told Fangoria.

The dog won the 2021 Palm Dog Award at Cannes

The border collie, whose real name was Panda, sadly passed away in March 2021. Her owner and breeder Elísabet Gunnarsdóttir accepted the award in her place.

“Panda was my first breed,” Elísabet told an Icelandic site (via Reykjavik Gravpevine). “She had a unique temperament. (She) was both determined but also gentle and kind. It was possible to teach her everything and nothing could upset her.”

Panda also appeared offscreen in the 2020 Will Ferrell movie, “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga,” to herd sheep and keep them in place for shots.

Noomi Rapace grew up with sheep and dogs – and knew the reality of life and death on a farm.

“We always we had lambs and sheep and stuff. Sheep are quite brutal. Let’s say they get four lambs. Quite often they keep three and push one away. Then that becomes a bottle lamb, basically. That’s what we call them. Me and my sister would take care of them over the summer; feed with the bottle and the lamb came inside. It was almost like a pet was hanging with us, following us everywhere. Then in September, it was slaughter time, and the lamb was killed. It was like lambing season,’ she told Elle magazine.

“That kind of awareness of life and death, birth and the end of life, it was so normal for me when I grew up. You can’t allow yourself to be too emotional about it. (With) farm life itself, death is always around. My dog got hit by car and died when I was 13. I didn’t want to live. I wanted to end my own life because he was my best friend.”

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The cat was the biggest diva on set.

“The cat? Yeah, the most difficult,” said director Valdimar Jóhannsson.

“The cat was such a diva,” said Noomi. “He didn’t do anything we wanted.”

“Lamb” is now playing in select theaters and available to rent online.

(SPOILERS BELOW)

SPOILERS

Do any animals die in the film?

Yes, Noomi talked to Elle magazine, about why her character kills the lamb’s mother.

The dog also dies, but offscreen. As the founder of the Palm Dog awards said; “Panda was a truly deserving win for the timeless, treasured qualities of a dog in full empathy with its owner, and loyal to a fault, making the ultimate sacrifice.”

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