This week, The New Mutants held a global press junket in anticipation of its release on August 28, 2020,.
iHorror was there and we’re excited to bring you all the details from director Josh Boone along with cast members Anya Taylor-Joy, Maisie Williams, Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Alice Braga, and Blu Hunt.
It was an interesting half hour, and two things became immediately clear as we settled in to discuss what is undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated films of the last few years:
First, this cast genuinely enjoys spending time together, and they’ve become extremely close throughout the film’s long, long journey to the screen.
Second, they are in awe of the fans who have seemingly never wavered as they followed the project from its inceptions through multiple release date changes and uncertainty of when they would finally be able to see the film.
“It’s so wonderful,” Maisie Williams said, kicking off the conference. “I think like we had a lot of uncertainty with this film and when it was going to get released. To know that there was an audience that was still willing to wait and even through this pandemic have been so supportive. It’s been really exciting.”
“They’re my favorite fans because they don’t complain,” Boone added with a laugh. “They just do really cool artwork of the characters. There’s probably 100+ pieces of artwork that fans have done that I’d still like to figure out a way to do a book of. Go out and get everyone’s permission and do a book.”
“I remember when we, me and Alice and Josh and Knate went to Brazil’s Comic-Con,” Henry Zaga said, “and I think that was the year that they sold more tickets than San Diego’s. As soon as we stepped on stage it felt like, I don’t know like we were the Beatles. They love these characters. The outpouring of love and dedication to these characters was really cool to see.”
Of course, anyone who knows anything about The New Mutants knows about its tumultuous history.
The film had completed shooting and was on the release calendar when Disney bought out Fox. Afterward, it was scheduled, then rescheduled, and when Covid-19 struck, it was rescheduled yet again.
Rumors swirled around the internet about the reason behind the delays, and despite everyone knowing what was going on with the fallout of the merger, some pointed the finger at the production itself, citing massive reshoots, and Boone wanted to lay those rumors to rest, once and for all.
“We re-shot the movie four or five times like every scene,” Boone said with a mischievous grin. “No, I’m kidding. We never did reshoots. We were supposed to do reshoots and pickups. People do them all the time, but because of the merger once it was done, it was done. So we never went back and did reshoots. We were always using the same footage and the same material from the start to the end.”
The irony of a film that deals with young people trapped inside a nightmarish building they can’t escape releasing in the midst of global quarantining is not lost on the filmmaker and cast, however. Moreover, not only did Boone make this film, but his followup project was the limited series of Stephen King’s The Stand which co-stars Henry Zaga from this film.
“We went and made this about these kids trapped inside this facility and then Henry and I went and made a show about a pandemic,” Boone said. “I think we need to stop making things that could happen in real life. We’re getting too topical in our projects.”
“I never thought about it that way before, but I think it kind of makes more sense now,” Anya Taylor-Joy added. “I feel like the movie’s supposed to come out now.”
Speaking of that facility, The New Mutants was filmed entirely on location, a rarity for a film of its type, at the long abandoned Medfield State Hospital in Massachusetts. The setting added a layer of reality to the film’s premise, and more than one crew member reported strange occurrences during filming. Many would not even walk to their cars alone at night.
The facility came complete with a groundskeeper who worked there for years and had more than one creepy story to share with the cast including one day when he pointed out a basketball court on the grounds and told Boone that it was built for “little Jimmy” when he came to the facility.
“I was like, oh they made it for a little kid. That’s so sweet!,” Boone said. “Then they’re like, ‘he stabbed his family’ and I was like oh…”
“To me, it was more about the smell,” Zaga said. “There was something just really creepy about the smell. It just got into your soul before you thought about it. But I don’t know. It was spooky, but I was also having a blast filming the movie so it was hard to feel bad about being in this place. I was the class clown I guess just enjoying myself and having fun.”
“I think filming there really helped to get the feel of reality of it,” Braga continued. “Having actual walls and actual energy for a film like this. It felt, in a way, like we were kind of doing an independent film sometimes because we were on location so it wasn’t all blue screens and creating…of course, we had that also, but it brings senses in. Like Henry said. A sense of smell. And filming at night was kind of scary. I wouldn’t walk by myself. No way!”
“The setting really helped with that,” Taylor-Joy said, “because it felt like we were in a high school/college experience where we were all going to the same place every single day and then going back to like dorms.”
“It was like a college experience but where the set you were on was where somebody had hung themselves there maybe 40 years before,” Boone clarified.
Needless to say, the seclusion of the location and the mystery surrounding naturally led to the cast developing a strong bond as they rehearsed and filmed together. The cast especially enjoyed recalling a night out when Charlie Heaton decided to take them to the movies.
There was only one problem really. Heaton had only just gotten his license, he had never driven at night before, and he could not figure out how to turn on the car’s headlights!
After some good-natured ribbing from his castmates talk turned to the characters they were playing.
For Boone, bringing characters to the screen that he’d loved since he was a child was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. For the actors, it meant tapping into parts of themselves that some had left behind.
“The comics, as much as they give you the shape of these characters, they don’t give you that inner,” Heaton said. “It’s exciting to read but I really for me preparing was really drawing more from the script itself. The comics helped the look and style. That was conversations we had and it was kind of looking a the script and going for instinct. You’re kind of finding what piece of you that you want to give to it. This idea of power and when you have something inside of you that’s kind of manifested and you’re trying to learn to control it how that plays with your emotions.”
“I think any opportunity to go back to teenage-dom is not necessarily the most fun experience but you definitely learn a lot about yourself afterwards,” Taylor-Joy commented. “It’s interesting because I think we all came into this knowing that whilst we were making a superhero movie we weren’t really making a superhero movie. We were making a film about people who were having a tough time understanding themselves and figuring out their place in the world. To make it more cinematic, we added powers but I do think any teenager who is going through the growing pains. Trying to understand where you fit in. You’re no longer a child, but then what is this weird adult world? I think they’ll definitely connect with it. And then they have powers which is really cool.”
For Williams and Hunt, their pressure began at their screen test together to see if they had the proper chemistry to bring the romantic element from their storyline to The New Mutants.
“We met at the screen test and I don’t know maybe two or three months before we shot the film,” Williams said. “I’ve done a couple of screen tests before but this was the first time I had to kiss a stranger in a screen test. That’s like a nerve-wracking experience.”
“I think I knew I got the part as soon as we kissed,” Hunt added. “I was like, that was real. I mean, I watched Maisie’s show [Game of Thrones] and I was like going to this audition all the way across town. I couldn’t believe I was even there when it was happening. But it was fun and our whole relationship between our characters and then between us on-set as friends was really amazing. It really got me through making the movie. Our friendship and that character relationship was really important to me.”
As we mentioned earlier, three years have passed since they made The New Mutants, and they’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the roles they played as the release day–finally–approaches.
For Hunt that meant coming to terms with how much like her character she really was, and how much she still sees herself in Danielle Moonstar.
“She was the first real character I ever got to play,” the actress noted. “I think she’s really close to my heart. I think she would be really fun to play her again as an adult. Dani as an adult now and not a teenager. Like, maybe her powers aren’t all negative and bad. Maybe she can make some dreams come true and not just nightmares.”
For those of us who can’t wait to see this film, Blu and the rest the of the cast and crew already have.
The New Mutants will be in theaters nationwide on August 28, 2020. Will you be watching?
iHorror | Horror News and Movie Reviews – BTS of ‘The New Mutants’ with Director Josh Boone and its Stars
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August 20, 2020