For Henry Zaga, the fact that The New Mutants is finally hitting theaters after a three year wait seems almost like a dream.
“At some point, I was like, is this a marketing stunt? Is there any movie at all?” Zaga said, laughing, in an interview with iHorror this week. “We’ve been so excited for three years. If anything I think the delays have only gotten fans more passionate and more excited about it. It’s basically become an urban legend on its own. It’s my first movie in theaters so it couldn’t be more weird and awesome at the same time.”
Not only is this Zaga’s first film getting the theatrical treatment, but it’s also the fulfillment of more than one dream.
He admits he did not grow up reading The New Mutants, but was a fan of the X-Men cartoons and anything that involved Spider-Man and Batman. Like many kids, he grew up wanting to be super-powered, fighting criminals and taking down the bad guys.
What he didn’t expect was for the movie to check off more boxes than he first imagined.
“I was even talking to Charlie [Heaton] about it after we watched it in March and you forget things,” he explained. “Like, I didn’t totally forget it but for a minute I blanked that I spoke Portuguese in the movie. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I am speaking my native language, playing a Brazilian person in a superhero Marvel movie. This is so awesome!’ So, I think that the ten-year-old in me went really crazy for a moment.”
Zaga also appreciated that his character Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot was a layered character that gave him more to dig into while playing the role.
For those unfamiliar, da Costa’s powers emerge, unfortunately while he is with his girlfriend in Brazil resulting in the girl’s death. When we meet him in the film, he is terrified of himself, but he hides it behind a veneer of jokes and bravado.
“I think a lot of people will see themselves in my character because we all make mistakes that we’re not even to blame for and we have to live with them,” Zaga pointed out. “We can’t live in spite of them, we have to live with them and they’re a part of who we are and our story. So, without giving too much away, Roberto uses fake confidence to really hide a very sensitive, broken side of his love-craving 17 year old self.”
As the actor’s description of da Costa might explain, much of the horror of The New Mutants is born from the unresolved issues of these mutants’ pasts before they arrived at the hospital. Over-powered teens trying to navigate adolescence with abilities they don’t understand and cannot fully control naturally lends itself to a scarier story.
“Josh [Boone] put it beautifully,” the actor said. “We never tried to make a horror movie. The comics are scary. Our history is scary. There’s no other way of doing this movie except to show our young side with the teenage years and the horror aspect just comes naturally. We’re too powerful for our own good. Can you imagine lighting yourself on fire every time you kiss someone? Bad stuff would happen. It’s really more of a necessity than a gimmick.”
Still, there were moments on set, filming in an abandoned mental hospital, that sent chills down Zaga’s spine from time to time.
In particular, he says, from time to time, when he was in a quiet corner by himself between takes, there was a noticeable smell that would seemingly come from nowhere.
“It was just like a punch in the gut,” Zaga said. “It was almost like something is looming. It’s weird how smell affects you in that way. It creeps into you before you even notice it. I was like, oh yeah, we are in a place that people have died in and have a tough time in. It’s not okay. We’re in a real, abandoned mental hospital. So that would be the punch in the gut for me.”
Despite the creepy location, the actor says he wishes he could go back and relive the experience of making the film. His time with his fellow cast members and the experience of working with director Josh Boone is one he won’t soon forget.
He also thinks that all of the delays and various setbacks have actually managed to bring the film to theaters at the perfect time.
“I’m glad it’s coming out in a moment where we’re understanding this pandemic a little more,” Zaga said. “We understand the guidelines a little better. We couldn’t’ have released this in April of this year. In a weird way I think it’s coming out at a perfect time. We’ve been quarantining so long and these characters in the movie are quarantining in a secret institution in the middle of nowhere. Maybe the world is finally ready for us.”
We here at iHorror are certainly ready to see The New Mutants, and it’s out in theaters today! Check out the character video for Henry Zaga’s Roberto da Costa below and let us know if you’ll be watching in the comments.