Academy Award®-nominee Guillermo Del Toro presents Mama, a supernatural thriller that tells the haunting tale of two little girls who disappeared into the woods the day their parents were killed. When they are rescued years later and begin a new life, they find that someone or something wants to come tuck them in at night.
As Annabel played by Academy Award-nominee and Golden Globe Winner Jessica Chastain tries to introduce the children to a normal life, she grows convinced of an evil presence in their house. Are the sisters experiencing traumatic stress, or is a ghost coming to visit them? How did the broken girls survive those years all alone? As she answers these disturbing questions, the new mother will find that the whispers she hears at bedtime are coming from the lips of a deadly presence.
When selecting the actors to portray the key roles in Mama, it was crucial to find the correct performers, regardless of their star power at the time. The key parts that the filmmakers needed to fill were those of the new family cobbled together after Victoria (Megan Charpentier) and Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse) are found in the woods and returned to civilization. Their unlikely saviors are their Uncle Lucas (NikolajCoster-Waldau) and his wild-child girlfriend, Annabel, who is admittedly unprepared for motherhood.
The free-spirited Annabel supported her boyfriend during the years that he spent searching for his missing nieces. After they are found, the bass drummer initially resists getting involved with the girls’ caretaking, but ultimately she finds solidarity with them.
When casting for the part began, actress Jessica Chastain had already worked with filmmakers including Terrence Malick, John Madden and Al Pacino, but few of her movies had been released and she was still relatively unknown. That would all change during 2011, the year her career launched into the stratosphere.
Del Toro gives his production executive, Russell Ackerman, credit for bringing Chastain to his attention.
Needless to say, the executive producer was blown away with her work. As timing met opportunity, the buzz about Chastain began to build as her slew of 2011 releases—including The Help, in which she gave an Oscar®-nominated performance—introduced her to audiences worldwide. Del Toro commends: “Our biggest victory in Mama was casting Jessica Chastain. She has the unique ability of showing great strength and great vulnerability at the same time, and the intangible gift of instantly making you care about her.”
The director also praises the production’s Annabel: “Jessica is a beautiful human being and an amazingly talented actress. I will be forever grateful for how she dug inside herself to give a dimension of life and sorrow to Annabel that I never dreamed of. There were intense moments where she made huge emotional investments that you feel on screen. We were very lucky to have her.”
Chastain admits that she looks for projects that challenge her comfort zone, and when she read Mama, she was immediately hooked. She reflects: “I’m a huge fan of horror films, and Mama is terrifying and unlike anything I’ve ever done before.” She also responded to her character’s deep arc. “I love the way Annabel goes from being a reluctant guardian to the girls, to the place where she’d rather die than let harm happen to them.”
The performer appreciated that Muschiettis weren’t aiming for cheap scares with their feature debut. Rather, she knew they were constructing a thriller that is as much psychological as supernatural. Explains Chastain: “Mama tries to kill Annabel because Annabel is the rival to the affections of the girls. Mama is perfectly fine with the girls being in Annabel and Lucas’ house, as long as they love Mama best. But once the girls discover that Annabel is warm, they see there is something they can get from Annabel that they could never get from Mama. You start to see their alliances shift, and that’s what causes all hell to break loose in the house.”
With the collaboration of wardrobe, hair and makeup departments, director Andy Muschietti worked with Chastain to create Annabel’s signature look: a reluctant hero and raven-haired 30-year-old teenager. Del Toro admits he was the most surprised when he first saw the character come to life. He laughs: “The look of Annabel was very surprising to me—tattoos, black hair—I would have gone a completely different route. But when I saw her, I understood who she was instantly.”
Jessica Chastain has emerged as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors of her generation.
Following a whirlwind 2011, in which she received several nominations and accolades for her work from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, BAFTA, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Screen Actors Guild and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, she has had an equally impressive 2012.
Chastain was last seen in The Weinstein Company’s Lawless, opposite Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, also lent her voice to DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted as the character of Gia the Jaguar. The film opened to huge numbers and outstanding reviews. She currently stars in Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s much anticipated follow-up to The Hurt Locker. The film received numerous accolades this year , including Chastain’s Oscar® Nomination for Best Actress and winner for the Golden Globe Best Actress in Drama. Chastain is best known for the role of Celia Foote, an insecure Southern lady constantly trying to fit in with the high-society women who reject her, in DreamWorks’ Academy Award®-nominated adaptation of the best-selling Kathryn Stockett novel “The Help.”
Guillermo Del Toro ‘Mama’ s released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corp. Showing on February 6. Nationwide!!
Credits: Press Release and photos provided by Solar Entertainment Corporation