For The Debt you learned the physicality of that, the martial arts, and now you are running through the woods and what not. How physical are the roles in this one?
Chastain: It’s not as physical as The Debt. I don’t do krav maga on any monsters.
Del Toro: Although wrestling the girls to the ground…
Chastain: We do have this amazing girl who plays Lilly who is a firecracker. She is…
Del Toro: Tough to put down.
Chastain: There was a scene where we were wrestling and I actually said to her, “It’s okay, she can hit me in the face” like before I was taking her hand like “Look, it’s fine!” So you know, you normally have to talk the girl into…
Del Toro: And then she goes, bam!
You were saying that this is not like anything you’ve worked on before, but it seems like you’ve worked on so many different kinds of movies. I’m curious, is it the horror that makes this different? You are saying there are short takes. What is so different?
Chastain: Well the character is different and I think it’s easy for me to bond with children and I just love kids, and so to play a woman who really doesn’t know even how to touch a kid. You know, she doesn’t want anything to do with them. And for example Take Shelter we shot that movie so quick and sometimes we’d have three takes for one scene with tons of dialog, so I’d come to set and it would be Mike Shannon and I talking about the structure of the scene and where we had to get and what that was, like a play. This is different in that it’s like “Okay, all we are getting right now is me walking to the closet and opening the door.”
Del Toro: It seems like you and the ghost are both protecting the children, but are sort of at odds with each other. How do you get to the point where you are giving empathy to something that you are so scared of? Does that happen?
Chastain: You know it’s funny, because we haven’t really shot the scenes with me and the ghost yet. Another really cool thing I remember Guillermo said to me the first time we met was you know the idea of a ghost is when the ghost dies, if they are in an extreme state when they die, they stay in that state. So if this woman was in a state of protecting a child or being like this maternal thing, the ghost that she is is that, and so if anything threatens her connection to what she feels is her children, that will always be there. So it’s not like I think Annabel is fighting because she wants to be like the best mom, I think it’s just she becomes a threat, because in any way that the children start to connect with Annabel who’s actually alive and warm, then it pulls them away from her, so it becomes like that dynamic.
As a self professed scaredy cat, are you concerned about your scenes with Mama eventually? Are you going to be terrified on set?
Chastain: Well I have to be, so yeah. I’ve gotten a bunch of scary films that I’ve put in my trailer and I’ve taken a lot of them home and it’s like “I have half an hour? Okay, I’ll just put it on for the sound and the atmosphere.” I’ve been able to do that here, but then when I get home like I try… I’ve tried so many times to watch [REC], it’s just not going to happen.
It’s only like a 75 minute movie.
Chastain: I know, it’s just not possible!
Del Toro: Javier [Botet, who plays Mama] is in it.
Chastain: I know, that’s why I know [I have to see it].
Del Toro: And when he shows up you crap.