Why Robert Pattinson And Willem Dafoe’s The Lighthouse Was ‘Miserable’ To Make

Robert Pattinson hugging Willem Dafoe

The Toronto Film Festival has been dominating the film world for the past two weeks, as plenty of new and exciting movies arrived to debut their movie to those lucky enough to score tickets. Plenty of these projects are hoping to have legs this coming Awards Season, and hopefully garner some nominations at the biggest ceremonies. One of these projects is Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse, his black and white follow-up movie to The Witch starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. And it sounds like the shooting process was rough.

The Lighthouse is a two-person movie, with Pattinson and Dafoe playing two lighthouse keepers who are alone on a deserted shore. The upcoming drama will focus very much on their sanity, and the conditions which have the potential to make either of them crazy. Director Robert Eggers recently spoke to the difficult conditions of filming the movie in Nova Scotia, saying:

We like to talk about how miserable the movie was to make. And it truly was, but I had fun everyday. I did, I had fun everyday. It was cold and rainy and shitty and tough.

The Lighthouse's characters Thomas Wake and Ephraim Winslow are helping to keep a titular lighthouse in working condition, on a pier that is hit hard by the elements. Constant rains make the job more difficult, and contributes to the characters' questioning mental health. But it looks like that also applied to the cast/crew, who were dealing with poor conditions as well.

Robert Eggers' comments to Variety show how intense filming The Lighthouse was. Rather than being on a soundstage of usual visual affects to create the world, the film's setting was largely practical. Eggers also used 35mm black and white film to capture the movie, and the trailers tease a sensory moviegoing experience.

Related: The Witch Director Is Remaking A Classic Horror Movie

This type of intense filmmaking has been shown to be successful in other projects like The Revenant, which had a long and freezing cold filming process. It can often result in a great finished product, and The Lighthouse is getting positive early reactions. Actor Willem Dafoe spoke to the experience later in that same interview, saying:

But that helps you, it’s a pleasure. And also to wear those costumes, they’re beautifully built costumes. And you know what? They do sort of keep you warm. It’s miserable, the rain stinks, but it puts you there.

That's certainly one way to look at it. On top of creating a visual language for The Lighthouse, the movie's extreme filming conditions helped Willem Dafoe find his character, and lean into the movie itself. He had to rely on the costumes for warmth, further connecting his body and senses to lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake.

The Witch was a universally acclaimed foray into the horror genre, so cinephiles are eager to see what Robert Eggers will do with The Lighthouse. Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are quite the dynamic duo, and it should be fascinating to see what terrors are ahead when the movie finally hits theaters.

The Lighthouse will be released on October 18, 2019. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.