[Interview] ‘THE NEW MUTANTS’ cast arrives with tales of heroics & hauntings

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Courtney Howard // Film Critic

It’s been a few years since filming on director Josh Boone’s THE NEW MUTANTS has wrapped. But that doesn’t mean the cast fails to remember the details of the shoot vividly. It helps when your primary location is in an old, abandoned psychiatric hospital rumored to be haunted.

At the film’s recent virtual press conference, Henry Zaga, who plays Roberto da Costa (a.k.a. Sunspot), said the pungent odor was more of the problem.

“There was something really creepy about the smell that just got into your soul before you thought about it. It was spooky.”

He added he took the spooky atmosphere in stride.

“I was also having a blast, so it was kind of hard to feel bad about being in this place. I was the class clown just enjoying myself and having fun.”

Alice Braga, who plays Dr. Reyes, appreciated the tactile, practical sets to augment their performances.

“Filming at night was kind of scary. I wouldn’t walk by myself. [It] really helped to get the feel – the kind of reality – of it, like having actual walls and actual energy for a film like this. It wasn’t only blue screens. Of course, we had that, but also, it brings a real feel.”

Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin in 20th Century Studios’ THE NEW MUTANTS. Photo by Claire Folger. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

When it came to character formation, Charlie Heaton, who plays Sam Guthrie (a.k.a. Cannonball), took a look at Bill Sienkiewicz’s “Demon Bear” series.

“This movie came from Sienkiewicz’s Demon Bear saga. Henry had like 100 comics in his room. I looked at them. You’ve got the script, which gives you a lot, but [also you’re] trying to find as much information as you can about your character. The comics, as much as they give you kind of the shape of these characters, they don’t give you that kind of inner, full-fledged character. For me, at least, preparing was looking more at pulling from the script itself than necessarily the comics. The comics helped with the look and style.”

Similarly, Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays Illyana Rasputin (a.k.a. Majik) dove head first into the comics for her own edification.

“I dove in for fun. Like Charlie said, you have to kind of go off the script because even if in your head you’re like, “Oh I pulled this bit from a comic book.” Somebody that hasn’t read the comic when they go and see it, they’re not going to understand it. And when you have Josh as your director, like, you just have a walking encyclopedia of anything you ever need to know.”

THE NEW MUTANTS is only in theaters on August 28.

About author

Courtney Howard

Courtney Howard is a LAFCA, CCA, OFCS and AWFJ member, as well as a Rotten Tomatometer-approved film critic. Her work has been published on Variety, She Knows and Awards Circuit.