The New in ‘The New Mutants’

Despite a Studio Merger and a Global Pandemic, the long delayed The New Mutants will finally be released on the big screen on August 28! Today, The Nerds of Color attended a virtual press event with the cast and the writer/director of The New Mutants to discuss the upcoming film.

The Virtual Press Conference participating talent were: Maisie Williams (Rahne Sinclair), Anya Taylor-Joy (Illyana Rasputin), Blu Hunt (Dani Moonstar”, Alice Braga (Dr. Reyes), Charlie Heaton (Sam Guthrie), Henry Zaga (Roberto da Costa), and Writer/Director Josh Boone.

Charlie Heaton as Sam Guthrie, Anya Taylor-Joy as Illyana Rasputin, Blu Hunt as Danielle Moonstar, Henry Zaga as Roberto da Costa and Maisie Williams as Rahne Sinclair in 20th Century Studios’ The New Mutants. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

The biggest question we had was answered right away at the beginning of the conference:

Q: Re-Shoots?! How much has the movie evolved since it was shot — to now and the release of the film?

We never did a re-shoot. We were supposed to do re-shoots… people in general in movies do re-shoots or pickups… but because of the merger, once it was done, it was done. So, we never went back and did a re-shoot. So, we were always using the same footage… the same material from the start of it — all the way to the end of it.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director of The New Mutants

The New Mutants is the first horror thriller set in Marvel’s X-men Universe and the first big studio film released after months and months of quarantining… and it’s also about people trapped in some place they can’t get out. Thusly, the cast then giggled on how ‘timely’ this release is and how it will affect everyone differently now; as opposed to when it could have been released.

The film was shot on location at night at an old psychiatric hospital. The cast was asked about that experience:

To me… it was more about the smell, I think there was something really creepy about the smell that got into your soul before you thought about it. It was spooky… and I was also having a blast filming the movie… so it was kind of hard to feel bad about being in this place. I was the class clown I guess… Just enjoying myself. Having fun.

Henry Zaga, Actor (Roberto da Costa/Sunspot)

I think filming there really helped to get the feel of… kind of the reality of it. Like having actual walls and actual energy for a film like this… it felt kind of in a way like we are doing an independent film sometimes… because we were on location so it wasn’t like on a blue screen then creating… of course we had that… but it also, it brings a sense to it. There’s a sense of smell. A sense of real feel. Except at night… I was kind of scared. I wouldn’t walk by myself.

Alice Braga, Actor (Dr. Reyes)

The cast noted that a lot of cast & crew members had weird experiences on set and had to be walked to their cars at night because they were scared to walk there by themselves after they had been in the building all day. A few definitely had encounters and a story was mentioned about a groundskeeper that warned & informed them how they shouldn’t walk alone at night and how a basketball court near the site was built for a kid who stabbed his family.

Beyond the horror elements, the film deals with young people/mutants dealing with burgeoning abilities… and they can be in-secure, angsty and dealing with growing pains… everything that young people deal with and can relate to.

Q: How do you think younger audiences will resonate with the characters?

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 afterwords. It’s interesting. I think while we all came into this knowing 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… and so, to make it a bit more cinematic, we added powers… but I do think any young person… who is going through the growing pains, trying to understand where you fit in, your no longer a child… but like, what is this weird adult world… I think they will definitely connect with it. And we have powers… which is definitely cool.

Anya Taylor-Joy, Actor (Illyana Rasputin)

I would say it’s really made for teenagers who are outsiders, people who feel out of place… who are going thru a tough time in general. When I was a teenager and I was really depressed, I had a certain movie I’d pop on and go lay on the couch and it would make me feel better. So, it’s like these kind of movies or those kind of movies, where hopefully they would be your friend.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director
Scene from 20th Century Studios’ The New Mutants. Photo credit: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Q: What do you remember most about your downtime on set?

Really, togetherness… you had no choice but to hang out… for three months and not a lot to do there (on location). And… tying with the film it really made us bond as people… and learn about each other, like these characters do.

Charlie Heaton, Actor (Sam Guthrie)

The cast then recounted the time Charlie Heaton, whom had just recently learned to drive, drove around some of the cast at night after seeing the film, Baby Driver, and how Charlie couldn’t figure out how to put his headlights on. FYI Charlie had never driven at night before.

Next, the cast discussed and celebrated the film’s romantic relationship between actors, Maisie Williams and Blu Hunt’s characters’ Rahne Sinclair and Dani Moonstar.

We met two or three months before we shot the film. 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.

Maisie Williams, Actor (Rahne Sinclair)

I was nervous. I think I knew I got the part as soon as we kissed. I was like… that, that was real. It was like I couldn’t believe I was even there. It was happening. Our whole relationship between our characters and us as friends on set was really amazing and got me through the movie. That character relationship was very important to me.

Blu Hunt, Actor (Dani Moonstar)

People ask me what are you excited for people to see… Yeah, like all the cool visual effects and the big fights at the end and all that… but, like just seeing these two girls under that dome looking up I think is really cool to see people do in the movie. I’m excited just for that stuff just as much as the action and all the Marvel stuff and all that.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director

It is definitely more character driven and driven by performance than typical films in this genre.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director

Growing up, Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) and writing partner Knate Lee (Kidnap) were comic book fanatics obsessed with anything Marvel. As kids, they wrote and illustrated their own comics from their parents’ garages which they sold to friends and family.

Being a teenager is a horror story in itself, and the struggles teens face hit especially close to home for Boone. He enjoyed horror stories like Stephen King’s The Stand and horror films like The Shining, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and Jacob’s Ladder. But as the son of two evangelical Christians, he was shamed and punished for his attraction to dark and fantastical stories.

As a result, some of his favorite comics growing up focused on the struggles of teen angst and growing pains. “Growing up I related to movies like The Lost Boys, where you had a group of kids struggling with adolescence,” says Boone. “They helped me realize I wasn’t alone in the world.”

Boone and Lee were both fans of the X-Men comics and were especially drawn to the New Mutants storyline, which debuted in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 in 1982. Written by Chris Claremont with illustrations by Bob McLeod, the series introduced a whole new cast of characters who had little affiliation with the students from Professor Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Q: Can you talk about your love for Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz’s “Demon Bear” storyline from the comics and why that was the right story to adapt and bring these characters to the big screen with?

I wrote this with my very best friend in the world. We’ve known each other since we were lil’ babies. Our mom’s were best friends and we grew up in the 1980s reading Marvel Comics. I still vividly remember to this day seeing the covers of The New Mutants comics that Bill started working on… The Demon Bear ones… because they did not look like any comic book covers that I had ever seen before… they were painted… they were impressionistic… they were… had a more slivery, surreal look than typical comic books do. I just had never seen anything like that before and so it really captured my imagination and I thought about them really for years. I remember being in L.A. when I first moved out and like my apartment and like ten years before I had ever made a movie, I had a stack of New Mutants comics and I was like… maybe one day. And I was lucky enough to had made a movie for Fox that was successful. I went and begged them to let us take a crack at these comics we liked when we were young. So, it all comes back to… almost all these projects that I ever do…. go back to my childhood or go back to things that I feel have real passion and love for because that’s really all that can sustain you through how long it takes to make something… get it made, shoot it write it, edit it. If it’s just something that you love… I don’t know fleeting, I don’t know if it can hold you through the length of time it takes to make it. So, we try to pick things we have a deep passionate feelings for. Hopefully, connected to childhood because those things will stay passionate about since then. Be able to continue feeling that way now.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director

Q: Did you delve into the comic book history of the character or did you mainly work off the script?

We used everybody’s original back stories from the comics but we really did go out of our way to ground those stories and make them directly related to where the character was emotionally when your with them in the movie. The comic only goes so far. It was certainly incredibly helpful aesthetically and in terms of choosing shots and making it look a certain way and using Bill’s designs… and Bill’s character designs. Because these comics were cool because they didn’t were costumes in them… for a lot of Bill’s run which we were inspired by that as well.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director

They are very much like the characters in the comics but I’d say we had to make sense of a very convoluted Marvel history that a lot of these characters had and their entanglements with other books and everything else. Like Lockheed would be a prime example, we made Lockheed much more tied to her (Illyana Rasputin) directly in terms of her back story and everything. Because the way she gained this dragon in comics, this dragon came from space… Kitty Pryde got it. Eventually, it really became Illyana’s. I don’t know how to do this space back story. This is why we chose not to focus on a character like Magma. She comes from an Ancient Roman world that still exists in the Amazon somewhere now… yeah, I’m not gonna do that.

Josh Boone, Writer/Director

For more, check out The ComicCon@Home panel featuring writer/director Josh Boone and the stars of The New Mutants, including: Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga, and graphic artist Bill Sienkiewicz — moderated by Ira Madison III and features an exclusive look at the opening sequence of the original horror thriller!

Writer/Director Josh Boone and the cast of Twentieth Century Studios and Marvel Entertainment’s The New Mutants, including Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Alice Braga, Blu Hunt, and Henry Zaga discuss the upcoming original horror-thriller moderated by Ira Madison III.

Twentieth Century Studios in association with Marvel Entertainment presents The New Mutants, an original horror thriller set in an isolated hospital where a group of young mutants is being held for psychiatric monitoring. When strange occurrences begin to take place, both their new mutant abilities and their friendships will be tested as they battle to try and make it out alive.

Directed by Josh Boone (The Fault in our Stars) and written by Boone & Knate Lee, The New Mutants stars: Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones); Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass); Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things); Alice Braga (Predators); Blu Hunt (The Originals); and Henry Zaga (13 Reasons Why). The film is produced by Simon Kinberg, p.g.a., Karen Rosenfelt and Lauren Shuler Donner with Stan Lee and Michele Imperato Stabile serving as executive producers.

Facebook: @NewMutantsFilm.

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