Dreyfuss is such a conflicted character, was his contrasting care and ambition the draw?
I don't know if it was a draw. I mean it was an interesting way of playing it with the idea. I think he was also a guy who was a good professional with children and he actually cared but when he kind of got an idea that something was going on that could help is career (and being very interesting) keeping it secret kind of made sense to some degree - so that the whole psychiatry world wouldn't lose it and immediately try and get on board. And keeping it from the family is a little bit [not good] but just because he had to prove it first, for real. He had to see Mama, and he had to actually talk to her, he had to be confronted with her for real. So I think almost anyone would hold that back. In the story line it looks a little bit like nasty stuff and there's an element of ambition for sure. So all that made it more fun to play.
How did you get on board?
I am like the only person that has not seen that damn short. I did hear that the whole thing was based on the short, but I never saw the short and was unaware of it, it was just that the script crossed my path and it seemed intriguing and it seemed like the thing to go for. Also with Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj [Coster-Waldau] it was all like 'this is cool'. And my face in North America especially ends up playing cops and killers a lot of the time. So whenever I get the chance to play a Rabi or a Psychiatrist I go for it.
How much does the crew influence your decision to join the film?
So I just look at a script and see if it is well written; certainly this whole group of people including the technical crew behind the camera and in post are great people and I'm happy to be in their books now and be part of their machine because they do cool things and they have a slightly different eye and I like it. And they make it really fun, their atmosphere is just like a party. They do it with a sense of 'oh this gonna be cool lets do it'. Was it weird having a CGI antagonist?
I don't think its that weird to do because this thing would freak me out easily and I also have children so also like the fact that children are in peril and all that stuff. And I dunno I guess it's an actor's task to go into things whether you're looking at a green screen or whether you're staring at an actual monster. I always give credit to your country woman Naomi Watts. She did just a great job with King Kong and you're thinking, 'she did this in a blank room man!'. Impressive.
Is Isabelle Nélisse the freakiest child of all time?
The little girl... is a freak of nature! She's like a whacko child and she's aware of her 'whacko-ness' and she plays 'it up' all the time, she actually never really stops. She's like a crazy little nut, even though she is very intelligent she's aware of her freaky qualities. One of the great things is that she's French Canadian, and so when she had to speak and say, 'come Victoria' she doesn't speak english very well so that was fantastic in the movie cause thats how it was. She was really just doing cowboys and indians down in the basement, she was just having fun pretending to be a freak and she went for it… that's why she's on the poster cause she's great.
Could you foresee the success of Mama during production?
Honestly I've done so many things where you think, 'oh my god this is brilliant' and it doesn't go anywhere or people don't recognise it or something so I thought a lot of those things in this film too, but you never now until it gets out there. We didn't know that we had magic on our hands. You never know. So I'm very pessimistic... I just go 'meh hopefully someone will recognise this eventually'. And then Guillermo (Del Toro) is a great producer besides being a great director and the way he released it in the time period he released it and how he put up the trailer and stuff really helped. Cause I know a lot of people that knew about it through me were really intrigued with the trailer but still even so I was emailing the director in Spain going 'good luck man good luck' because the thing is if it worked he gets a career and if it doesn't he carries on trying to get another film. I was going 'I'm holding my breath' and then it did beautifully and they were losing it. They said we were laughing like idiots actually is what they said. But I promise you that I've thought many things would work in the past and they haven't and I'm really proud of these guys and everyone that made the effort cause this one has a present.
MAMA is available on DVD NOW.
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.