Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) takes on the leading role in The Boy, delving into the psyche of Greta, a caretaker for a strange ventriloquist-like boy puppet that everyone in an old English village treats as a living child. Directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside, Stay Alive), The Boy is a horrific telling of grief and loss through the literal stand-in of a dummy in place of a child who passed away in a horrific accident, rendering is parents perpertually stuck within the stages of loss and their outward denial. BUST interviewed Cohan about this creepy new role, discussing her career, the concept of grief, and why children are so darn scary:
Did you think you'd be moving from Walking Dead further into the horror genre?
LC: I didn't plan to, but then I read it, and I couldn't put it down. So I was like, "I'm just gonna do this and then I won't do anymore." I know, it's crazy.
So, do you like taking on horror roles or is this one just an anomaly?
LC: No, I like taking on horror more than I like watching horror because I do scare pretty easily, like I would watch in the daytime. But for the most part, like during shooting and everything, I’ve been trying to balance it, out so I’m not up to speed.
The story has been described as a scary tale of unconditional love gone wrong, can you comment on how this plays a part in the story?
LC: You get into this story and you think “this is just crazy, why would she stay here?” Some pretty absurd parents look after this little boy and then you realize why they do, and it’s this great coping mechanism for loss. And as the story progresses you realize everybody’s strange actions are motivated by some pretty painful past and so, I think this drive for unconditional love is coming from that doll as well as the characters in it.
The Omen, The Exorcist, and The Orphanage, these all feature scary children. Why do you think children are so scary? Do you think there’s a maternal influence in this fear?
LC: Yeah, I think so. I think we hope that children are inherently good, and if anything, that bad luck can lead them wrong. But to know that this is an 8-year-old boy that he can do harm to all these adults, or really manipulate all these adults, is really scary. I think dolls themselves are scary. I think that dolls are a little bit unnatural.
We made a post on Twitter about the movie. Tina asked, “Was it harder to act with that doll instead of people or not really?”
LC: Yeah, I think once within the film when she commits to being his mother figure, then I gave over to believing that he was real. And you’ll see whether he is or he isn’t. That was a challenge in itself, but as an actress, suspending your disbelief and diving into a circumstance. He was really bad at remembering lines, but everybody has something.
Do you think that horror movies, as a genre with a frequently-leading female character, are feminist?
LC: I know in this film we didn’t want to go down typical routes. I didn’t want to be in a tight tshirt covered in blood in this movie. It’s funny, I was telling somebody that I saw Adam Mccain talk at the writer’s guild ast night and he said, “If a story is predominantly male, you tell the story of the men in the film. If the story is predominately female…[and so on] but you don’t put token characters anywhere in order to tell that story and as long as the story is representative of the people it's portraying, then I’m happy with it. But I don’t generally watch enough horror to make that assessment. I’m more interesting in whether a character is dynamic, rather than coming at it from a sexist or gender-based perspective. I’d rather say, “Is this person flawed? Did they screw up this thing? Did they make a mistake like we do? And then make another one like we do?” I think that was definitely my approach and my choice in this.
See Lauren Cohan's spooky new film 'The Boy' debuting this Friday!
Image via STX Entertainment / The Boy.
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