JAVIER BOTET INTERVIEW
Interview conducted by Stuart D. Monroe
[REC], Mama, Crimson Peak, The Other Side of the Door, The Conjuring 2, Alien: Covenant, The Mummy, Insidious: The Last Key, Slender Man, IT…what do they all have in common? The answer is Spain’s greatest export, Javier Botet. Javier is THE go-to for horror movie monsters in the last decade. His 6’7”, 120-pound frame has made him perfect for the long-limbed, double-jointed stuff of nightmares (as well as the bane of CGI artists) in some of horror’s biggest movies.
The man himself is the polar opposite. He’s a soft-spoken gentle giant with a passion for the genre, as well as writing, directing, and art. His most recent movie is Mara (premiering in the US on September 7th), where he portrays the titular sleep demon. I had a chance to talk with him about Mara, life under all that makeup, his workhorse approach, and various upcoming projects.
Stu: How would you describe your experience making Mara? You’ve been in a ton of movies here recently, but where does Mara stack up as far as the overall experience on set and the feel of the movie?
Javier: Well, I feel that all the crew was very gentle. In general, I had a very nice experience in doing what I love. Eh, but with Mara it’s like home and the director, Clive Tonge; Jonathan Frank, the screenwriter; and producer, (James) Edward Barker…even Olga (Kurylenko) was an amazing, nice woman. So, I felt very, very comfortable since the first day. Since the first day, they’ve been very fond, easy to work with. So, even before when we were speaking (like I always try to do)…I try to speak to the directors and see and speak about what they want. The first time Clive asked me what I can do, what I think I can propose. I love to work in this way; he was always asking me, and we’d been working together. I know my body better than anybody, so I always have something different to propose. So, he was buying, all the time, my proposals. He was easy, was very gentle. Even the makeup…it was a little movie, not a big-budget movie. The makeup was designed to be very easy, very light. So, for me to work, it’s always easier being more comfortable. A lot of times we make very hard makeups, very hard creatures, that doesn’t allow me to move very good and feels not very comfortable. But, in this movie (in Savannah, Georgia) everything was very easy, very fun, and a very nice experience. So, I think everybody did everything with love, and I can’t wait to see the movie because I haven’t seen it.
Stu: Oh, wow. So, you haven’t seen it yet? All of that definitely shows in the finished product. I was going to ask about that makeup. Some of the makeup you’ve had, in particular the character of Myrtu in The Other Side of the Door (which was also outstanding), had to be some horribly restrictive makeup…
Javier: Oh yeah…
Stu: …but the Mara character spends a lot of time in shadow and seems like it might have been a little easier to move in.
Javier: Of course, of course.
Stu: So, you’ve had five years now since Mama, and you’re the go-to guy for horror now. You’re red hot. It’s probably a lot harder to just go out and be a guy on the street. Are you more recognized at home in Spain, or is it harder to get out and do things here in the States?
Javier: Ah! Well, the fact is here in Spain I am doing more things than horror movies. Out of Spain, abroad, I am doing only these roles. I did in London, two years ago, a kind of dark comedy without makeup, but it’s a weird thing. I’m always with the mask on. I’m doing a lot of prosthetic, so it’s hard for people to recognize me, but it does happen. It happens. Sometimes people recognize me, and it’s nice. ‘Cause I love people saying they love my work. It’s good. Sometimes people recognize you, but I don’t love…I don’t want…huge fame. All the people recognizing you? I don’t like that. I don’t want that. I’m so happy that I’m nonstop working. That’s the thing I love. A lot of people that know my work in the business; [those are] the people I want recognizing me. But, in the street, a little times…okay. A few times it’s nice but not much. But in Spain, I work in evening comedies, in dramas and other things. My problem out of Spain is with English. It’s not very, very good; I’m working on that. It’s improving but here, in Spanish I can be …ah, yes, I can be whatever. So, for the comedy and other things that I am working more, a lot of people recognize me. But sometimes for my work as a horror actor, sometimes for comedy, sometimes for other things, so it’s quite, uh…a little bit more here in Spain than outside but very similar.
Stu: Alrighty. Outstanding! Well, was there any particular film (especially in this hot stretch recently) that stands out as being the most fun to work on, whether it was the cast, the location, the director? Like, is there one you have particularly fond memories of?
Javier: No, the reason I’m trying to improve in my free time with my English is because I’m a guy easy to stay with. I love to joke, to do crazy things and enjoy the shooting. But, until this moment it was hard. Now I’m very much better than one year ago. So, when I’m working with somebody who speaks Spanish, it helps me very much to feel comfortable and to express a side of me, to express myself. So, when I am working in Mama, I’m working with Andy Muschietti ([who was] born in Argentina), and he speaks Spanish native. That made everything more comfortable, and it was with Barbara [Muschietti], his sister the producer, we have a very good experience. And even the producer, Guillermo del Toro, speaks Spanish too, so that was very special. I felt very comfortable. As I told you, Mara was one of the most nice shootings. I felt very comfortable with Clive Tonge. We have the same sense of humor, so that helped a lot. Even now, I’m working in It [Chapter] Two. I’m working again with Andy Muschietti, Barbara, and all that. For the third time, I work with Jessica Chastain…
Stu: “She’s amazing…”
Javier: …yeah, like more a family, so that helps very much to enjoy the shooting. Yes, that’s some of the experience. And when I work here in Spain with Álex de la Iglesia or [someone] like that, it’s very fun ‘cause it’s people that I know, people that I know here in Madrid and we get a lot of nights hanging out so it’s great fun.
Stu: Alright, one last quick one: what exactly are you working on next? I know there’s It right now, but what do you have following up IT? Or are you going to take a little time to chill?
Javier: Oh, no. I love to work. I need one month, maybe sometimes, to chill but not much. No more, ‘cause after one month I want, I need to do something. At the moment I am working on IT [Chapter] Two, and last week I finished a part I did in Star Trek: Discovery.
Stu: Oh, very cool.
Javier: Yes, it’s an honor to be in this one, too. It’s a dream. So, in the next weeks I’ll go back to Toronto to finish my work in It [Chapter] Two and to start doing a little part in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, a movie that is shooting now with Guillermo del Toro again. And with (J.) Miles Dale, that is the producer of Mama 2, so…it’s a little like family. The Toronto people: Guillermo, Andy, and these guys are always shooting in Toronto Pinewood, so it’s a place I’m always working very much more than others.
Stu: Yeah, you get a little consistency.
Javier: And in November I have a movie here in Spain, a drama, it’s like a weird love story. It’s without makeup. It’s, uh…yes, a Spanish movie. So, I have a project I’m working now – a late night show here in Spain I start working this season, so I have a lot of things.
Stu: Wow, you are a busy man.
Javier: Yeah, it’s better to be busy.
Stu: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Botet. I really appreciate it, sir.
Javier: Thank you. Thank you very much.
HorrorTalk would like to thank Javier for spending his valuable time with us and for being so generous and forthcoming.
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