Exclusive Interview: THE NEW MUTANTS Director Josh Boone and Star Blu Hunt
It has taken THE NEW MUTANTS a long time to come to theaters. But they are finally here!
For co-writer/director Josh Boone, the process began when he was a boy, buying comic books and acting them out with his best friend Knate Lee, who would end up co-writing the movie with him. "They paid us to do what we did for free when we were 12. This was a dream in a lot of ways," Boone said. His goal with THE NEW MUTANTS was to "smuggle interesting ideas into a superhero movie," and meld it with an entirely different genre.
"We really have tried to be as comic-true as we could in the bounds of the movie we wanted to make, which was a John Hughes/BREAKFAST CLUB meets NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3 meets superhero movie. And a good dose of Buffy from the 90s," Boone explained. “I feel like it was a hurdle to include as many things that we appreciate and love that hasn’t been in a comic book movie before."
This idea took many forms. At one point, THE NEW MUTANTS was set in the convoluted continuity of the X-MEN timeline. "In the first version, the Alicia Braga character was Storm. She had lost her powers. That was what we used. She was in the facility taking care of kids who couldn’t be in Professor X’s school because they had either intentionally or unintentionally hurt or killed people with their powers," Boone said. "We took a more Stephen King approach to their powers, more like FIRESTARTER or CARRIE, where they weren’t heroic." Out of that idea came a place where you could put the NEW MUTANTS characters without making a true X-MEN movie.
Among the X-Men comic book favorites locked up in NEW MUTANTS are (and these are their cool codenames here) Wolfsbane (Maisie Williams), Magik (Anya Taylor-Joy), Cannonball (Charlie Heaton), Sunspot (Henry Zaga) and Mirage (Blu Hunt).
For her part, Hunt was still, by her own estimation, "an unknown actress working at a coffee shop" when she was cast. Hunt described the audition process: "I got an audition for a Fox movie where they used dummy sides [i.e. mocked up script pages], I didn’t know what it was. But I kind of had an idea. My manager told me. I didn’t think I would get it. I didn’t have an audition for anything that big before."
Hunt said she prepared for the audition with some liquid courage but had watched the X-MEN cartoon as a kid, so she knew the property well. She knocked it out of the park. “A couple weeks later I found out that they had loved me but it still took months. My life was just in limbo for five months," Hunt said. (Turns out that ability to wait would come in handy.) Once she was through the process she finally knew who she would be playing. The character came as a surprise to Hunt. "I had no idea there was this awesome female indigenous superhero," she said.
Hunt said that the cast and crew became fast friends and that friendship grew and deepened as they waited for the movie to be released. "We all really got along and we all still talk to each other. Especially waiting for the movie to come out we really bonded through that," Hunt said. She said that the past few years have been "really intense emotionally."
For Boone, it was even more of a rollercoaster. "There was the dark limbo of being there, right after we finished shooting, that Disney was going to absorb Fox and all of the X-MEN and then we were in limbo for over a year but we came out with a happy ending," Boone explained. "Once the merger was completed Disney had me come back afterwards and finish everything and now I can say, 'This is what we shot and this is what we were trying to make.' There were dire times when I wasn’t sure that would be the resolution."
And while his plans for a trilogy with the characters (that would have ended with a crossover film with the main X-MEN actors) is probably off the table, he hopes the new regime will utilize the characters and actors. “I’m thrilled to see whatever they do,” Boone said. Sounds super.
THE NEW MUTANTS is in theatres now!
All images courtesy of 20th Century Studios.