This Friday sees the latest release from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, the horror/thriller MARA. For the release of the film, James had the chance to speak with one of the most well-known creature actors in the industry, Javier Botet. Hailing from Spain, Javier has been featured in numerous horror films ranging from 2007’s [REC] to 2017’s IT, and undergoes incredible transformations to embody his characters. During their chat, James and Javier discussed everything from his new role, to what it’s like to experience sleep paralysis, and the process of transforming into these terrifying characters.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Thank you so much for speaking with us today, Javier! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character, Mara and what interested you in the role?
Javier Botet: It’s like with any movie, when someone offers you a creature like that you try to find all the background you can find. As an actor, you need something to feel in the role that you are playing, and I discovered that Mara is a night hag. I even had a personal experience a long time ago with the sleep paralysis. That’s what was interesting for me, the plot of the movie. Director Clive Tonge always gave me all this freedom and asked me about my vision because the actor always knows his own body better than anybody. I always try to propose new things or ways to do things.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What was the process like when it came time to transform into Mara?
JB: Sometimes it’s very hard and a lot of time and a lot of hours in makeup. With this role, it was light makeup which was more comfortable – you’re not so tired after sitting for 6 hours of makeup. Sometimes the makeup can be very restrictive but with this role it was not very hard – it was light and I felt very comfortable. The time we spent in getting Mara ready was not much. Mara is very much in the shadows, very far from the frame. Everybody that has experienced sleep paralysis talks about seeing shadows so we tried to show less of Mara.
Nightmarish Conjurings: The film centers around sleep paralysis and you mentioned you have experienced it before. What was that like, if you don’t mind me asking?
JB: It was about 8 years ago and I had sleep paralysis for one year. I was suffering from it for that entire year and even visited doctors. It’s a scary moment to feel and think you’re dying – you can’t breathe and you think you can move but you can’t move at all.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Wow, that sounds really horrible. How were you able to get past it?
JB: It appears and then in a few months it disappeared. The doctors said that sometimes it happens in moments that you are especially stressed. It just disappeared and I haven’t had any more.
Nightmarish Conjurings: You are known primarily for your creature work, portraying such characters as the Hobo in 2017’s IT, the Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2, and now a sleep demon. What is it about these types of character that you love bringing to life?
JB: I love to walk in all the genres and I’ve accepted that my body is special and is great for working in these kind of roles. It’s weird to do other roles because I’m very, very tall and very skinny. Twelve years ago I started doing these roles and felt very comfortable doing them and more and more people asked me to play these types of roles. I love to scare people, I was all my life scaring my brothers in the night, scaring my friends in the night, so I think it’s like I’m perfect for this, I’m born to be in these roles.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Last, but certainly not least, are you working on any new projects that we should be keeping our eyes out for in the future?
JB: Yes, I’m currently working on IT: Chapter 2. I just wrapped an episode in Star Trek: Discoveryand I’m doing a little part in the new production of Guillermo del Toro. I have a drama movie without any makeup here in Spain, which is really good cause I like to do some other things sometimes, and I’m working late a late night show this year in Spain. I’m working in a lot of things and I hope it keeps going.
MARA opens in select theaters and On Demand/Digital HD September 7, 2018