The cast from the upcoming film “The Possession” was present at the press conference earlier this week. Latino-Review was there to provide some coverage.
The cast, at all times, showed enthusiasm and fondness for each other. The full cast provided informative details about the making of the movie, along with great humor.
Director Ole Bornedal and actors Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis and Matisyahu were in attendance during the press conference. The screenwriters Stiles White and Juliet Snowden also answered plot questions about this horror film.
“The Possession” is about a young girl that buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl’s father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.
Here are the details from the press conference below:
What is your process in developing this story? The whole myth of the dibbuk is fascinating, but to turn it into character driven, plot driven film as opposed to being slasher, blood and gore. But to hearing of a story and also along that vein Stiles you did your work with Stan Winston studios for your coming to play as you were visualizing this story.
White: Yeah, I think for us you know there was this underlying story of this unusual dibbuk box, this antique. And it had all these great real life elements and weird phenominone that had happened to this various people that owned it, and changed hands a few times though Ebay. So we knew there was this really cool device and people online were already talking about it. Think an article came out in 2004 so there was all this chatter about it and ‘what is it?’ ‘what does it mean?’ We thought that it was a great device and something that kinda kicks of for a horror film. But then when we sat down to really start figuring out the script it was a matter of okay this was an interesting object, but who are the people we should hand this object to that begins this phenomenal for them and we just thought of this idea of a family that is recently divorced. And kids are going back in forth between mom and dad on weekends and that would be a cool family dynamic to put this box at the center of it. And we like stories where families are being tested by some kind of phenomenal so that was our drifting off point.
And did you find that working with Stan Winston Studios it helped with your visualization?
Stiles: Yeah, I kind of cut my teeth breaking down throats and working in a lot of horror films so when we get into things we are thinking about how to do things that are unique and different that you know that haven’t been done before in film. So yeah I brought a lot of that experience with us.
What parts of the story being a created to true events and other parts of the story created. How did you chose the level of possession, demonic possession? And how did you put a face on evil? I mean, clearly at the end people has a face.
Snowden: For us, what we were really trying to explore is what this dibbuk box was going to do to this family. So we were really thinking when we were writing what happens when families get divorced and what happens to kids that are stuck in between and really exploring the relationships. And for us thats where most of the horror came from.
In which way is it a true story?
Snowden: Well, in the LA Times article there were several instances of things that happened. A man had purchased the box at a yard sale, we have that in the movie. He gave it to his mother for her birthday, thats in the movie. She instantly had a stroke. So we were taking as many facts from the article that was really important to Sam Raimi. So when we were developing it was Sam. As many real facts in the LA Times we put into the movie.
In the article of Los Angeles Times there was also a team of the possession of the evil or was it only a mysterious box?
Stiles: We took a lot of the basic ideas that were in the article but we really wanted to explore the broader mythology that was possible with something that was being called the dibbuk box. And have our characters go through an investigation of what that mystery was.
Did you guys do research? Did you feel a need ones you were filming to protect yourselves from anything. Do you believe in dynamic possession now that you have a part like this?
Morgan: I did as much research that is available to you, initially. I think based on this article that lead to the original listing on Ebay and kinda how it all started and what happened to the person that owned this box. That was sort of the beginning of it, and then you find out that dibbuk boxes have been around for hundreds of years. And then I looked up all that was kind of enough to send me video of exorcisms. Which scared the crap out of me, I am not gonna lie. I was a complete skeptic going in. Now with that being said I still am a bit of a skeptic, but we had some weird things happened on the set. And to say that, we were also very open to that because we’re making a movie and you are kinda in that character spot. But I walked away of the movie being less of a skeptic then I was when going into it. Does that help…
What kind of strange things happened?
Morgan: Well, three or four times that I was aware of. I have been in movies for a long time now and I’ve never seen a 5K light explode in the middle of key scenes and this happened three or four times. In a close suit studio nearby suddenly a gust of wind would come. The last thing I’ll leave you with and let you all freak out. All of our props, the dibbuk box included were put in storage in Vancouver so we could go back if we had to do re shoots we would have everything back there. A week after we wrapped filming this storage unit was burned to the ground. It was investigated it wasn’t arsenic, it wasn’t electric fire, it started from within. That’s all I am saying…
Ole, can you talk a little bit about the casting process, the process to finding the perfect Em?
Bornedal: It has very much to do about finding natural people. Especially in my opinion the horror show that is so American and so mainstream also. You see so many performances in horror movies. I needed to see real character. Really naked performances. We rehearsed it and we talked a lot about it me, Kyra, Jeff, Natasha and Matisyahu. I needed Matiyahu to really get out there and really cross the borders of what he was he was used to do. And he did and he was the real thing. The performances needs to to be organic, it needs to be alive. It needs to be hurting, hurtful, and harmful. I had Jeff cry a couple of times; I like to see actors cry. (Laughs)
Morgan: We weren’t even shooting. (Laughs)
Bornedal: I casted some girls. Of course with some different girls. I think I casted Natasha first and I casted her for ten minutes and I knew she was the one. I actually did call the producers and told them we didn’t need to cast anymore girls, but they of course didn’t believe me of because that’s not how things work in Hollywood. So I just pretended and casted some more girls. But I knew in my heart she was the right one. I brought girls and I do that with kids pretty often. Again, I sound like this cruel European guy (laughing). I bring them into some sort of trance. I bring these kids into a certain trance I bring these kids into some trance and be capable to finding a pipeline to their emotions. I brought Natasha in a certain type of trance and asked Natasha to behave like Em possessed. I gave her some time to get into character. She closed her eyes and when she came up she had transferred into Em. And I started interviewing her and I asked her ‘Why? Do you know you’re actually hurting your family? Can you tell me, can you explain to me why you behave like this?’ And she started crying her heart out and said ‘I can’t help it. There is this person sitting inside of me. I asked her, ‘what is that person? Who is that person? Who is he?’ Natasha, it’s not a he, it’s a she. It’s an old woman.’ That’s the first time anyone had heard that, not even the writers. Then I asked her, ‘Is it an old woman?’ And she said, ‘Yes, it’s an old Polish women’ I was just like, Holy, Shit! (Laughing) She actually created this demon.
Morgan: This audition that he is talking about is why I decided to do the movie. He sent me, I read the script, the script was awesome and I knew it could work. One way it could work was if we had this amazing actor playing Em. And I remember talking and I was like, I don’t know man. I mean how are you going to find this person? I don’t know that she is out there. And all they sent me was this thing, this DVD. I watched it I picked up the phone, and I was like yeah, this is it. You hire her, I’m in the movie.
For all the actors, can you talk about the exorcism scene? I mean like it wasn’t creepy enough you have to do it in a mental institution that is closed down. Were there any events in that were scarier and did you feel the atmosphere of that place?
Morgan: My favorite story from this movie was that it comes from that exorcism scene. We were going to shoot a segment of it and then it was kinda just me and Kyra and Matisyahu. I was carrying her and putting her (Natasha) on the table, and then it would be a cut. A camera adjustment. We went in and put her on the table and no one said cut. Ole, has disappeared. Which isn’t true, he was there but it went on for like seven minutes in a raw emotion. Everyone’s performance was, I don’t think any of us quiet knew where it was coming from. I remember looking at Kyra and when Ole finally did cut and we were both like, ‘what the fuck just happened?’ It was a complete out of body experience and it shut down our whole crew. Everyone was in tears, it was crazy. And as an actor that has happened to me like, never. It just doesn’t happen when you have that kind of body experience and that was my exorcism story.
Calis: It was pretty intense both emotionally and physically and for me it was just really fun. I got to scream and lose my voice a few times. But no, it was a fun experimenting with what level Em could take into because she is such a complex character. I really played two characters; I played the 11 year old and I played the 11 year old girl getting devoured by this demon inside of her.
Morgan: The Polish old lady. (Laughs)
Calis: But it was all really fun. All the scenes. Especially the exorcism scenes because they were the craziest and the most fun.
Kyra: Yeah, I remember that moment vividly as well that Jeff was talking about. I also remember saying ‘Jesus Christ, Ole, cut!’ At the end as the actor you yearn that the cameras will catch everything that you do. And catch it in a wider shot I mean I just think that the scene where you see all the actors working with each other in that intense way only can be capture when it it only in that one long shot. And so I appreciated that as an actor who always tries to give 100%.
What was it like to do the moth scene?
Calis: It was a pretty cool experience for me. I mean I’m not gonna lie it was pretty scary. In the moment I was in this dark room and they were just dumping buckets of moths all over me. And I didn’t know what was crawling on me I again I couldn’t see them it was a dark. But in the moment I guess I wouldn’t call it fun, it was definitely interesting but after it was all done I brushed off all the poo and everything off me. Then I was kinda like like, that was fun. It took a lot of weight on me because I learned to stay cool on the outside, but I was freaking out on the inside. So I mean I really learn from that.
Who designed the box? Because there is something in Hebrew, and I can read Hebrew but it doesn’t make any sense. Can you tell us about the box?
Bornedal: I designed it with my art department and my art design. We wanted to be able to do different things in the movie so we couldn’t use the original dibbuk box. I started that, I saw that but it wouldn’t work for the movie. We had it design to have Hebrew on it. Think some of it was written correctly. Think it was Matisyahu is who found out that it was upside down.
Matisyahi: It was upside down.
Kyra: Details, details…
Morgan: It was supposed to be mysterious. (Everyone laughs)
“The Possession” will be in theaters tomorrow.