The Black Phone has entered the pantheon of iconic masked horror villains, with Ethan Hawke playing the devil-faced Grabber, in director Scott Derrickson's film adaptation of a Joe Hill short story. Recently, Derrickson — well known for films such as Sinister and Doctor Strange — opened up about the film to PopCulture.com. During the conversation, he shared exclusively with us just how Hawke reacted to seeing the Grabber masks for the first time.
"He was just telling me about how the first time that he came into the offices, I think it was probably for a wardrobe fitting, and he saw the masks for the time," Derrickson said, revealing that he'd just recently spoken with Hawke. "He said, 'My whole shoulders just relaxed... I saw them and I was like, oh, this movie's going to work." The actor added to him, "I just realized as soon as I saw them, I said, 'These are so scary that there's a lot of things I don't have to do here,'" per Derrickson. "It really just freed me up to think only about the character's motivation and not about being scary, because he uses the masks to do that work for him. You know?'" Whereas the director replied, "Exactly, that's why he has them. To intimidate without having to try to intimidate."
Derrickson — who wrote the film's screenplay with C. Robert Cargill — also shared a few details about the mask, including what it's made of, explaining, "They like, I think, a fiberglass or it's a combination of several compounds. Getting the texture right, getting the look of the texture right was really important. They're rather heavy. So it's like a ceramic kind of quality but held together with a fiberglass, or something, that keeps it solid so it doesn't break easy. But they're not light. They're fairly weighty." While the mask set has some heft to it, Derrickson clarified that they were not too difficult for Hawke to have on for short periods of time. "They're comfortable enough to wear for, for short scenes."
As for what motivated him to craft such a terrifying villain in The Black Phone, Derrickson confessed, "The target on the movie obviously was I tried to make an iconic horror mask. I wanted to make a movie good enough with a mask good enough that I could compete with Ghostface and Michael Myers and all those big dogs." He continued, "So the fact that people are already clamoring for the mask and starting to put it on... I hope on Halloween season, it's all we see."
Derrickson then revealed just where the terrifying Grabber mask is now. "Well, I've got the originals. I got the ones that Ethan Hawk wore mounted in a glass case on my wall in my house. I was smart enough to take those with me. So I have a feeling they'll be worth something someday."
The Black Phone is now available to own or rent digitally – from online retailers such as Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV. It is also now available to bring home on Blu-Ray and DVD, and is currently streaming on Peacock. For more, check out our complete interview with The Black Phone stars Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw at the top of this page!