In COLOR OUT OF SPACE, based on the short story by H.P. Lovecraft, actress Madeleine Arthur portrays the character Lavinia Gardner, a free-spirit who is immersed in witchcraft as well as heavy metal and is the more responsible sibling compared to her older and younger brother, regardless of if her parents (Joely Richardson and Nicolas Cage) want to admit it. Though the character of Lavinia wasn’t featured in the original Lovecraft novella, director Richard Stanley took it upon himself to include a female protagonist whose arc ultimately represents strength and sacrifice. This allowed for a modern representation of a female character to be presented in the film, something that Lovecraft famously shielded away from.
For the upcoming release of Richard Stanley’s COLOR OUT OF SPACE, I had the opportunity to chat with Madeleine Arthur who exuded a cheerful and excited disposition over having the chance to play Lavinia Gardner. During the interview, Madeleine and I discussed everything from what attracted her to the role, working with Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson, as well as coming face-to-face with a nightmarish creature that would easily haunt anyone’s dreams for eternity.
What interested you in the role of Lavinia Gardner and were you familiar with the source material prior to shooting?
Madeleine Arthur: I was aware of who Lovecraft was but I wasn’t familiar with the novella, Colour Out of Space. What really drew me to Lavinia was all of her unique characteristics, such as horseback riding and witchcraft, as well as seeing how she becomes affected by this beautiful disaster. Also, the script as a whole and the opportunity to work with Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, and the rest of the cast, as well as director Richard Stanley.
Lovecraft is notorious for his cruel outlook towards women and minorities. What I loved about this adaptation was Lavinia had so much power, strength, and independence surrounding her character. What was it like bringing Lavinia to life?
Madeleine Arthur: It was such an honor and just so cool. All my thanks to Richard for writing this script and modernizing Lovecraft to have myself and Joely, who also plays a strong, powerful, working woman, as well as Elliot Knight and Q’orianka Kilcher, making [the film] a representation of modern society today. I feel like it couldn’t have been done any other way, so thank you, Mr. Richard Stanley.
Lavinia goes through this huge transformation from the start of the film to the end. Was there any specific research you did to get into that headspace?
Madeleine Arthur: I did some research on witchcraft which Richard and Nic both helped a lot with. Nic passed on this book about witchcraft to me and I also took horseback riding lessons and listened to this band called Babylon Whores, which was mentioned in the script as they have some good heavy metal songs. All of those things kind of tracked the journey for me.
There’s a moment in the film where you come face-to-face with a grotesque creature. What was that like and did you get to see the creature prior to filming the scene?
Madeleine Arthur: I might have seen part of the creature before but the final version was a bit of a surprise and the practical effects team was so good. They did such a great job with the design and the makeup effects and the special effects with all the blood splattering. It was crazy but very fun!
Since it was a relatively small cast what was it like working with everyone as a family unit?
Madeleine Arthur: Nic is a genius and everyone loves him. Joely is such a talented actress and her role was not easy considering where she has to go. She’s one of the most humble, kind, and generous people who is not only supportive but is also an overall lovely human. Brendan [Meyer] and Elliot are such good actors. I actually knew Brendan from a few years prior so it was easy for us cause we’ve been friends for a few years so we were able to have that sibling banter which made it super fun. And Elliot is so charismatic. And little Julian [Hilliard] is so cute and smart for his age, he asked the best questions on set, I feel like maybe he might be a director one day, he’s so great.
Lastly, are there any other Lovecraft adaptations you would like to see in the future?
Madeleine Arthur: I feel like so many people are very eager to see The Dunwich Horror adaptation that Richard and Spectrevision are working on, as well as the whole trilogy that they have in the works. I think that will be a real treat for fans of Lovecraft.
COLOR OUT OF SPACE arrives only in theaters on January 24, 2020.