After capturing the hearts of audiences and critics alike at BFI Flare earlier this year, Unicorns arrives in UK cinemas this week. Loosely-inspired by the story of Asifa Lahore, Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen, the culture-clash romance also represents a number of firsts for its co-directors, Sally El Hosaini and James Krishna Floyd, as well as its stars, Ben Hardy and Jason Patel.

Hardy stars as Luke, a single father whose life is taken up with his job as a mechanic and his high-spirited five year old son. But when he stumbles on an underground club playing Asian dance music, he’s immediately fascinated by a flirtatious dancer who goes by the name of Aysha (Patel). The passionate kiss that follows makes it apparent that Aysha isn’t the person Luke had assumed, but the attraction is so powerful, he’s soon juggling his life with acting as her driver. And, as the two hesitantly grow closer, he soon discovers that Aysha’s life away from the superficial glitz and glamour of the night could overshadow everything.

In our interviews below, Patel talks about why he chose the film for his big screen debut. Recently announced as one of this year’s Screen Daily Stars Of Tomorrow for the UK and Ireland, he describes the part as “a once in a lifetime role”, while Hardy reveals how he developed a new, more spontaneous approach to acting thanks to one of the co-directors, Sally El Hosaini. It’s the first time she and real-life partner James Krishna Floyd have directed a film together – he starred in two of her previous films, My Brother The Devil and The Swimmers – and they describe how working together allowed them to “do double the work in half the time”, as well as some of the films that influenced Unicorns.


Unicorns is released in UK cinemas on 5 July.