James Wan on Malignant and Creating Gabriel (HUGE SPOILERS)

James Wan’s Malignant has arrived. Having had the pleasure of seeing the film early on, it was exciting to see the critical and audience reactions to it. And frankly, I’m a bit of a sucker for a movie that is outrageous, uniquely its own thing, and perhaps even a bit divisive. The idea of a modern filmmaker creating such a wild and unexpected horror romp is a treat to my horror-loving heart. Malignant simply went for it. Whether you dig it or not, you have to admire the sheer audacity of this delightfully gruesome and fun flick. Starring Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, Michole Briana White, and Jake Abel, Wan’s latest is currently in theatres and on HBO Max. I’d recommend the big screen if you can do that safely.

A few weeks back, we joined in for a discussion with Mr. Wan directly after experiencing Malignant ourselves. And while we certainly had a ton of information with the initial post – which you can check out here – there was one thing that we waited on. During our chat, James was asked about Marina Mazepa. The actress, who is also featured in the upcoming Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, has a very impressive gift as a physical performer. James opened up about creating “Gabriel” as well as the physical performance of this modern villain, and how she helped bring the beast to life, along with Annabelle Wallis and an impressive effects team. Read on, and make sure you check out Malignant, now playing at a theatre near you, and in the comfort of your own home.

And just in case, this is a bit of a SPOILER for those who haven’t seen it yet. Frankly, you should see this knowing as little as possible, but if you’ve already experienced it, read on.

James Wan: I know. It’s a lot to process. It’s a fricking outrageous film. I get it. And it usually may have been a bit better if you guys had a day or two to process it. But what I will say is designing and bringing Gabriel to life wasn’t an easy task. It really is a combination. It took the entire “filmmaking village,” as I describe it. And so it’s a combination between the performances from Annabelle Wallis, the subtleties from Annabelle, that’s the more crazy part that she had to go into the darkness.

So between her and the psychological aspect of herself building up into Gabriel coming out, to when she’s fully possessed by Gabriel, Marina steps into it. And Marina was an incredible find. We could not believe it. I thought I had to shoot a lot of the movie in reverse and then play back in reverse. But what was amazing about Marina is just how quick of a study she is as a physical body performer and dancer, that she was able to learn the choreography. And she literally did all the fighting backwards blindly. She did it all backwards, blindly, and it was insane to watch how that was all choreographed. Like that huge fight in the holding cell was all done by Marina. There was no trickery, if you will.

We didn’t cheat in any way. She did that all backward. And so it was a combination of what she did there and what prosthetic makeup did as well. So we applied a prosthetic life cast of Annabelle’s face and she will wear it on her actual face. And then on the back, she’ll be wearing an animatronic head of Gabriel. And so a combination of that with the amazing special effects and the electronic team that I had on the film, and also ILM helping me to pull it all together to bring it to life. It was quite an experience. I really wanted to create a villain that we haven’t quite seen before. And it really took a lot of work to get it to this level.

Source: JoBlo.com

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JimmyO is one of JoBlo.com’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.