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Claire Foy of ‘Season of the Witch’ Talks Massive Attack, Witches and Bruce Springsteen

There’s a question looming at the blackened heart of Season of the Witch, and it drives the entire film.

Is Claire Foy’s character a witch, or isn’t she? Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself when the movie hits theaters on Friday January 7, 2011…

Perfectly complicating that puzzle, Foy seamlessly teeters between seemingly evil and sensitively vulnerable. It’s a rather delicate performance from the actress. While mired in the midst of all kinds of supernatural madness and heroic bravado from Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, Foy remains creepy, cool, and captivating, conjuring a mystical presence all her own. She’s one reason why it’s so fun to fall into Season of the Witch.

Claire Foy sat down for an exclusive interview with editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Season of the Witch, listening to Massive Attack to become evil, her playlist and so much more!

Does Season of the Witch have a fairy tale undercurrent?

Yeah, I suppose it does actually. The whole film is a bit like a fairy tale in a grim way because it’s set in medieval times and everybody is riding a horse. It’s all quite fantastical. I can’t remember the last time I saw anything that was set during that period. You’re probably going to remind me of something that I’ve forgotten though [Laughs]. It’s definitely a fun movie.

How did you get into the mindset of an alleged witch?

I think a lot of it was in the script, but I did a bit of research into the period and what happened in the witch trials as well as what the symptoms of suspected witches were. It’s all there within the film. This girl’s being persecuted and Behmen [Cage] is the only person who can truly see it because everyone’s so willing to look for someone to blame. Consequentially, they’ve decided that she’s it. I suppose it’s up to the audience to decide whether she is or she isn’t guilty of what she’s charged with, which I find most interesting. With all of those boys around, it was quite easy to play the victim.

Have you always been interested in witchcraft and medieval culture?

I think everybody is fascinated with the witch trials and those sorts of things to a degree. Obviously, I’ve seen The Crucible, and I did it in school. It’s a fascinating time. The important thing for me to remember was that it wasn’t just a fictional bit; it was reality. At that time, everyone was looking for someone to blame. They were so petrified of everything, and they believed that every action had a comeuppance. They thought something would always happen to you if you did something awful, and they were constantly looking for something to blame. I’ve always been interested in that, and I think most people are. Everyone’s fascinated with the fact that anyone could be so vicious, not just to women, but to other people, period. They’d accuse them of something and believe it was right to hang them or burn them at the stake. It’s a horrific thing. Growing up in England, those are things we learned about during our history lessons in primary school. I’ve always been interested in history anyway.

How much input did you have regarding your character’s look?

Well, it’s my face [Laughs]. They had ideas about how they wanted her to look so I had hair extensions. The costume designer was amazing. He came up with the costume, which wasn’t particularly flattering but did the job. Dominic Sena left it all up to me in terms of the acting and where I wanted to go with it. I was very keen to be muddied up and quite dirty. I was firm on that because I didn’t want her to look pristine and angelic all the time. I wanted her to look like she’d been in the back of a cage for weeks on end and not washed. That was it! They put me in the dress, put the hair on me, and it was all up to me from there.

Do you ever listen to music to get into character?

For me, it’s a big part of initially finding out what I’m going to do with a character. At drama school, it’s quite a big thing. They teach you to find a piece of music to suit the character. Every character you play has a different rhythm just like how everyone you meet has a distinct rhythm. I definitely had a different rhythm as opposed to my character in Season of the Witch [Laughs]. I suppose you’ve got to find it from somewhere. It’s interesting you ask that, because I do it!

Who were you listening to for Season of the Witch?

I don’t know if I should tell you, or if it should be a secret [Laughs]. I wasn’t listening to any really demonic stuff. I was listening to Massive Attack and people like that. That’s the weird thing though. About the songs I think that are appropriate for the character, most people would be like, “Really?” Lots of Massive Attack [Laughs].

Instead of Slayer and Metallica?

Oh no, it’s a bit too obvious and witchy, isn’t it?

Who’s usually on your playlist?

I love Bruce Springsteen! I always have. I do love Florence and the Machine and Ellie Goulding too. It’s mainly older music that I had when I was growing up like Van Morrison and Eric Clapton—stuff my mom used to listen to. I’m not massively into music. However, if I hear a song by say Deacon Blue, I’ll buy it on iTunes.

Do you have a favorite Bruce Springsteen song?

“Secret Garden!” I know it’s not his song, but I love the live version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” that he does. I’d have to say “Dancing in the Dark” too because it’s a family favorite.

What’s your favorite part of the movie?

I really like the bit with the wolves. I’m not really in it, but I like it a lot because I was quite scared for everybody while I was watching it [Laughs].

—Rick Florino

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