While in San Diego covering all the 2018 Comic-Con festivities, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with both Linda Cardellini and Raymond Cruz, who recently collaborated on the upcoming New Line Cinema project, The Curse of La Llorona. Based on the Mexican folklore that has terrorized generations upon generations of naughty children who have grown up in fear of “The Weeping Woman,” La Llorona was directed by Michael Chaves and also co-stars Patricia Velasquez, Marisol Ramirez, and Sean Patrick Thomas.
During the interview, both Cruz and Cardellini discussed carrying the weight of the story of The Curse of La Llorona, collaborating with Chaves, and how the film may be set in the 1970s, but it still parallels a lot of current day issues as well.
Look for The Curse of La Llorona in theaters everywhere on April 19th, 2019.
Great to speak with you both. Coming into this project and knowing the cultural impact that “The Weeping Woman” has, was there a weight on you both coming into this project?
Raymond Cruz: Well, there really was a tremendous amount of pressure because we wanted to get it right. It’s a famous legend of Mexican folklore and it’s been around for hundreds of years. So, we wanted to make sure that if we were going to be a part of this film, and to make sure that my character was correct—he's an ex-priest who's now something like a Mexican shaman, or a witch doctor—we had to make sure that the magic was right, and how he assists Linda’s character in dealing with this supernatural occurrence was correct, too. So, I had to make sure we got it all right, and we didn't have a lot of time, either. Because anyone who sees this who knows this story—and there are a lot of people who have a deep knowledge about La Llorona in the Latin culture—it was a tremendous responsibility to make sure we got it right.
Linda Cardellini: And I feel like everyone was very respectful of anything that we had to say, or any input that we had was listened to. It was very collaborative, and they really approached this story with a lot of respect.
How much did the 1970s setting help heighten your own experiences while making the film?
Linda Cardellini: It transports you. It definitely does. Even the textures of the clothes are different. I do feel like the colors, the station wagon that I drive, it all adds up. And that wagon felt like driving around a couch on wheels [laughs]; the emissions were so terrible, that car constantly stunk. But aside from the aesthetic of it, there's something really great about it, especially because it's pre-Internet. I think that is really fun.
This was a time where you had to roll down the windows yourself, you had to use a dictionary if you needed to look something up, or an encyclopedia, you had to do it all for yourself. There’s just a different feel about it, and there's a certain nostalgia that is fun to explore. This story is also somewhat terrifying, too, and it feels like it is steeped in a sense of realism, which is similar to how The Conjuring universe operates as a whole.
It seems like at its core, this is a story about motherhood and the struggles that come with being responsible for kids and keeping them safe. Can you talk about tapping into those struggles and making it relate to the otherworldly aspects of this story?
Linda Cardellini: This really is a story about three mothers. And I feel for me, especially in one of the scenes that you saw, I have to bring them with me because I have no choice. My character is a single mom and that causes a lot of problems. But I think it's very primal to want to protect your children and the agony that La Llorona feels after she does what she does by killing her own children and forever being doomed to feel that agony, I think that's an agony that no mother wants to feel. And to have done it to yourself is damning—it becomes your own kind of hell.
This film explores a lot of different facets of motherhood, and the characters Patricia and I are playing are trying so hard to protect our children against La Llorona, that there comes this point where you begin to wonder if your own mind's breaking, and if you are becoming the thing you fear the most.
How was it working with Michael on this film and digging into these characters? Was everything there in the script or did he let you guys work through some stuff and add a little bit of your own flavor to these roles?
Raymond Cruz: He gave us a lot of freedom in building the characters and bringing the truth to the characters, especially for my character. He's an ex-priest who left the Catholic Church and has become a Mexican witch doctor and a spiritualist. So, he brings his knowledge of Catholicism and Christianity, along with his spirituality, to battle this monster. And there's no book on how you battle something like La Llorona, so he has to figure it out along the way.
Linda Cardellini: Yeah, I think the cool thing about his character, too, is he doesn't know it all. He's not one of those people who shows up and takes control. There’s this whole thing where we don't even know whether or not to trust if he knows what to do. And for me, too, I loved the idea that I could play the heroine of a movie from beginning to end. There was no husband in sight, he's gone and she has to fend for herself. That was something that was actually really appealing to me along with the cultural aspects. So, it was exciting to me to think that we were bringing all of that to the big screen.
Raymond, you mentioned last night how the stuff that's going on in our society these days is relevant to this film—had you realized that coming into the project?
Raymond Cruz: It's spooky, isn't it? Right now, you have people separating the nuclear family, and in this film, you have this entity that’s trying to separate Linda from her children. This film is definitely mirroring what's happening in the country even though it is set in the era of the 1970s. These are atrocities that have been happening again and again throughout our history, and so there is a parallel between La Llorona trying to take these kids versus what the government is doing right now. It’s terrible.