From the Set: Guillermo del Toro, Jessica Chastain on the Mysteries of Mama


In the heart of Toronto on this chilly day in late October, there are traces of “Halloween” in the air. Cardboard ghouls and skeletons are taped to windows. Ornamental pumpkins, surrounded by colorful autumn leaves, rest in display cases of various shops. Not far off, a horror film festival is about to get underway. And somewhere, someone is likely feasting on a pumpkin donut or sipping from their pumpkin latte. All of these are things get this writer – who resides in Southern California, the land devoid of seasons – in an apropos mood for an apropos set visit to Pinewood Toronto Studios where some supernatural shenanigans are unfolding. is checking in on director Andy Muschietti, who is orchestrating a feature-length spookshow called Mama, based on his short film of the same name. The short focused on two young girls and a malevolent spirit – it was three minutes of tightly-wound terror that was all about stylistic execution over story. The feature film, however, will provide more narrative substance. The tale tells of Annabel (Jessica Chastain) and Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a couple who welcome two young girls, Lily and Victoria – found living alone in a cabin – into their home. As Annabel tries to introduce these youngsters, Lily (Isabelle Nelisse) and Victoria (Megan Charpentier), to a normal life, Annabel starts to believe an evil presence has permeated her home.

Mama marks Muschietti’s feature directorial debut and he’s able to pull off his endeavor thanks to executive producer Guillermo del Toro.

Del Toro has, for some time now, made it a point to shepherd promising filmmakers and their visions (see: Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, The Orphanage, Splice, Julia’s Eyes). Here at Pinewood Toronto, Del Toro’s mission is two-fold. Not only is he overseeing Mama but he’s in heavy pre-production on the monster ‘n robot romp Pacific Rim. Every sound stage on this lot is dedicated to Del Toro. In fact, you can say Pinewood Toronto accurately reflects the dual nature of Del Toro’s career as he has always found a way to balance big budget fare with smaller, more intimate projects – whether he’s in the director’s seat of those films are not.

To kick off our Mama coverage, we begin with our discussion with Del Toro and Chastain – the latter looking rather different than the last time we saw her. The actress sports a Misfits t-shirt, short, black hair, dark mascara and a partial tattoo sleeve – an octopus (designed by director Muschietti) creeping down her arm (admittedly, we’re kind of smitten with this new look). Del Toro? Well, he’s his usual jovial self and always a pleasure to listen to.

You can check out the interviews and new photos over on!