Known for her roles in such TV series as Breaking Bad, Don’t Trust the B—– in Apartment 23, and Jessica Jones, multifaceted actor/director Krysten Ritter tackles her next role as the evil witch in David Yarovesky’s YA fantasy/horror film, NIGHTBOOKS.
In NIGHTBOOKS, Alex (Winslow Fegley), a creative boy with a strong passion for writing scary stories, finds himself rejected from schoolmates and labeled weird. After swearing he would never write his stories again, he finds himself captured by an evil witch (Krysten Ritter) where she demands he tell her a scary tale each night in order to stay alive. It’s here he meets Yasmin (Lidya Jewett), another young prisoner, who helps him survive the witch’s wicked whims. With Yasmin’s help, Alex must learn to embrace his love for scary stories and rewrite his own destiny to break them free.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon Mcgrew spoke with Krysten Ritter, where they discussed everything from the over-the-top wardrobe, the complex nature of the evil witch, and how she hopes this film inspires kids to embrace the weird a little bit more.
Hi Krysten, thank you so much for speaking with us today! To start things off, what was it about the evil witch that made you want to take on the role?
Krysten Ritter: It was too good to be true. I love characters that are unexpected and over the top. I love that she was funny and all over the place and a know-it-all and truly terrifying as a psychopath, but also childlike in her own way. I had the best time playing this character. It’s always fun to be bad. It’s always fun to be wicked. Not to mention the amazing hair, makeup, and wardrobe. This was so much fun for me.
Speaking of the amazing wardrobe, how did those costumes help inform the movement of your character?
Krysten Ritter: You always want things to come from a place of the character. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it. She is a child in her own way, stunted emotionally because of her circumstances. These are all of her favorite things and what does she do when she has magic? Let’s have blue hair! So there’s a lot of thought that goes into every detail, but it definitely helps to sink into the character. And then you finally see it all come together. You catch a glimpse in the mirror and you’re like oh yeah, this makes me feel a certain way. Even the shoes that she wore made her so tall that she was towering over everyone. A really intimidating figure, larger than life, literally, wearing 12″ heels. All of that helped inform the choices that I could make in the performance.
You’ve played such complex characters in the past. And though this film is vibrant and fun, your character still has a darkness to her. What do you enjoy about playing characters who explore their darker traits?
Krysten Ritter: I just sort of look for ways to change it up all the time and do something different that I haven’t done before. This will be very different from what people are used to seeing me – there was Jessica Jones and now I get to be a witch. I sort of relish in opportunities to change it up and sort of never let myself get stuck in a box.
Alex and Yasmin find themselves at the mercy of the Evil Witch. How was it working so closely with Winslow Fegley and Lidya Jewett?
Krysten Ritter: They were so amazing. Honestly, I’ve seen the movie two times now and Winslow makes me laugh, like some of his delivery is just…I will laugh out loud and text the director and be like, “Oh my God! Winslow says this,” and he’s like, “I know it still makes me laugh every time!” [Laughs]. Lydia is just heaven and she is so smart and so intelligent and such a sweet person. She got presents for my son and we had a great time together in the hair and makeup trailer. I just know both of them are going to be big stars.
Piggybacking off of that, how was it working with Director David Yarovesky?
Krysten Ritter: He’s awesome. What a talent. When I got this movie and I read the script, I watched Brightburn to prepare for meeting with him and in the first few frames of the movie you can tell his camera movements and his framing were all really exciting. I was like, “Oh, this guy has an eye.” That movie was very fresh and very original and scary, sort of genre-melding with the superhero and horror genre. Working with him on this, I know it’s going to sound so crazy, but I am so proud of him. I just think what he did with the visuals…he has a really unique voice as a filmmaker, and I think he is going places. I’ve told him that I can’t wait to see what he does next and I hope that I’m a part of it. I think that it’s rare to have a director that has such a singular voice and he does, and it’s right up my alley. NIGHTBOOKS and the style of storytelling within the movie are just so fresh and cool. It’s stuff that I like as a goth weirdo myself.
I’m dying to know what it was like to work in the space of such incredible production design. What was your experience like being surrounded by all these over-the-top practical set pieces?
Krysten Ritter: I think the sets in the movie are so exciting. I think that NIGHTBOOKS look so cool. It’s the kind of movie that begs to be on the big screen so I think people need to watch it on the biggest TV in their house just to get the full effect of those sets. I think that the library and the staircase and then when they go outside of the apartment, all of that was just so fun and artistic. Almost everything is practical and that really makes it feel like you’re on a ride.
The film really helps to usher in kids that may have an interest in horror/fantasy. How does it feel to know that you’re in a film that may help kids embrace their weird side?
Krysten Ritter: As a former weird kid, maybe still a weird kid, this movie is so up my alley, probably the kind of movie that I would love to watch, as well. I’m excited to be a part of this big family adventure, horror film. It has really good scares but not the kind that will totally traumatize you and keep you up at night and give you nightmares. I think this is a perfect gateway to the horror experience!
NIGHTBOOKS is now exclusively streaming on Netflix.
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