Recognized for playing a number of colorful, edgy characters over the years, including her Oscar-nominated performance in 1991’s Cape Fear, it’s no doubt artist extraordinaire, Juliette Lewis is one of Hollywood’s most talented and versatile actors of our generation. While she’s known for playing rebellious, inventive roles in a vibrant career stemming from the late ‘80s, audiences will be seeing a different side of her in the latest Blumhouse production, MA from Universal Pictures — a role Lewis was drawn to from the start.
While in conversation with PopCulture.com for promotion of the movie, MA, arriving on digital on Tuesday and Blu-ray/DVD and on-demand, Sept. 3, Lewis reveals while there were a number of things that initially piqued her interest with the script written by Scott Landes, it was a lot about the story’s energy, particularly its emotional range that captured her attention.
“What I love about this film and doing a Blumhouse movie, is it’s fun on its head,” Lewis told PopCulture.com. “And MA reminded me a lot of movies I grew up with that are of the thriller genre, like Carrie. To me it had elements with the layers of psychology that goes into this subversive, wicked character that Octavia [Spencer] so beautifully plays.”
Though she is admittedly not a fan of the “horror genre,” Lewis adds that she’s incredibly “grateful” to director Tate Taylor for her role as Erica — a single mother working through a divorce who moves back to her hometown with daughter, Maggie (Dana Silvers) and works hard to be a solid parent.
However as events would have it, Erica and Maggie are then caught up in a manipulative web spun by Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer), an old acquaintance of Lewis’ character, who lures Maggie and her friends into a friendship based on the promise of a safe space to party and drink. With the kids calling her “Ma,” little do they know Sue Ann has a psychotic agenda, fueled by her own dark history in a town of long-buried secrets.
Lewis said she enjoyed playing a “super good guy fighting for the kids” and “sanity” against Spencer.
“I loved how strong and multi-dimensional the mom role was because she reminded me of friends of mine,” Lewis said. “And it wasn’t just written as some weird ‘50s archetype. And Tate and I were really specific at making her full-flavored and strong, and real — like a mom of today facing some of these challenges.”
Lewis adds that she “leaned on friends” who were moms of teenagers for a more direct take on the authenticity of her role.
“I liked that there was so much honesty in that,” she said. “And I really liked that this is not so much about jump scares or whatever they call it. For the horror, it’s not even truly horror, but it has so much depth and range to it.”
Lewis goes on to share how she loves to “challenge” herself and credits Taylor as a “revelation” in directing.
“This is the first of my many projects with him,” Lewis said, adding how she loved how “well written” the script by Landes was.
In addition to her love for Taylor, Lewis goes on to applaud Academy Award-winning actress Spencer, whom she was absolutely “thrilled” to work with.
“I just love when artists defy expectations. I know that was a big goal of Octavia’s with this role and you know, she’s just a fun f—ing person to work with,” she laughed, adding how it was great to know Spencer and Taylor had a shared history of working together on previous projects, like The Help and Get On Up. “Her and Tate, I mean, to be part of two people that came up together. Like, they told me stories where they shared $10 in a s—y apartment. And then to now him being a director and her winning awards, it’s really special to be part of that family, so it’s fun.”
Lewis adds that she and her onscreen daughter played by Silvers really hit it off, disclosing how it’s “always a trip” when you can create history with someone you just met.
“It’s sort of a wildcard,” Lewis admits. “You never know what fate is going to hand you, and Diane and I got on instantaneously. I loved her quirkiness, her honesty. She’s not self-conscious or artificial or doesn’t answer to these pressures of being a young person. She’s just a beautiful, creative person in spirit, so it was quite easy to pretend to be mom and daughter.”
Lewis adds that her biggest takeaway from working in Blumhouse Productions is just how “groundbreaking” the subject matter and content is, sharing how it’s something she doesn’t take for granted one bit.
“You get grateful when people give you such rich, creative opportunities and when you get to work repeatedly with the same people that have been so profound in your journey — that’s just good life stuff,” she said.
With an experience this good on set of MA and an ending that has left audiences wondering what more could arise for the characters, Lewis is humbled by the reception by fans of the film and has but a few words for those hoping for a sequel.
“I’m hoping that, yes,” Lewis laughed with PopCulture.com. “I think there very well could be, and you never know. You just never know...”0comments
MA is available on digital starting Tuesday and Blu-ray/DVD on Sept. 3, which includes a new alternate ending, deleted scenes and much more!
Photo credit: Leon Bennett/FilmMagic