Opening on December 2nd in Los Angeles and New York and on VOD is Nicolas Pesce’s haunting character study The Eyes of My Mother. Starring Kika Magalhaes as Francisca, the story follows a young woman living on a remote farm whose loneliness and search for love drives her to commit some depraved and horrifying acts.

Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with Magalhaes about her star-making performance in The Eyes of My Mother, and heard more about her perceptions of Francisca, her experiences collaborating with Pesce on the project, and more.

I had a chance to talk to Nicolas at Fantastic Fest and he spoke very, very highly of you, and I must agree with his enthusiasm for your performance in this film. I'd love to hear what your first impressions were when you got this script and you saw Francisca as a character. She's such an interesting character to watch as she unfolds in front of us.

Kika Magalhaes: Well, I got involved with the project in the very, very early stages. I met Nick in a music video and he wrote The Eyes of My Mother always thinking of me for the main character. The movie has gone through so many changes and it was so different in the beginning. We shot something to show to the Borderline film people, and it was so different back then. Francisca was a real killer. She was mad, and it was a different approach to her character. Then, the movie was in pre-production probably for a year where me and Nick, we would spend hours talking about her, and so we built all of this background for her.

I loved her. I loved her. I never really saw her as a serial killer as some people call her. She's definitely not a serial killer. I always saw her as the most loving character, desperately seeking love through all of the things she does, and all the people she killed was because she didn't know how to express that love, so I do love her. I feel a lot of empathy for her. I know how crazy that might sound [laughs].

You bring up an interesting point in terms of making any moral judgments against her. I feel like you wouldn't have been able to embody Francisca had you made those judgments against her and seen her as somebody who was evil going into this.

Kika Magalhaes: Yes, because I was also so involved in this project so early, I was able to dig into that. I had a really big understanding of the character, and because Nick and I were so passionate about the project, I got to really know her. All of those actions had a meaning and [they were] not just meaningless kills; even the way she walked and the way she moved had meaning. It was very organic. I really don't know how to explain, but I do think we’re all very quick to judge people and sometimes people just do horrible things because horrible things happened to them.

Francisca exists mostly in this world that she's created for herself, which means we are following you for almost the entirety of The Eyes of My Mother. Were you ever daunted at the beginning of this, realizing how much of this movie was going to end up riding on your shoulders?

Kika Magalhaes: Yeah, I didn't know that it was going to be like that. I remember in one of the first drafts, it was more religious and there was a lot of praying and dreams and God involved, and then it was more towards the end that Nick told me, "Oh, this movie's not going to be more about religion. It's going to be more about your character." I was like, "Oh wow." He was like, "This is going to be your story, Kika," and that's when it hit me that it was going to be really just about my character. But when I saw the movie, I don't really just think it's about me. I love the other actors and I think it's a buildup of everything. It was a blessing to have this role.

How much did it mean to you to be able to work with somebody like Nick, who you had collaborated with previously? Because I'm guessing there had to be a lot of trust between you guys for this project.

Kika Magalhaes: It was great. I met Nick for that music video and we quickly became friends. It was so funny because I had no expectations on anything. I did this music video because I was in a kind of weird time in my life in New York. I'm from Portugal and I moved all the way here to become an actress. It's not a very easy choice, so I was very broke and I found this music video. I didn't know who Nick was and then at the end, he was like, "Oh, I'm going to write something for us," and I was like, "Yeah, everybody always says something like that." So when he called me the first time and talked about The Eyes of My Mother, I didn't even know it was him.

I remember that he was so excited on the phone and he said, "Oh my God, I'm writing this thing and I want you to be the lead in it. Please tell me you want to do it." It caught me by surprise. When I first read it, it was kind of like what I was going through because it was about this character who was so lonely, and I was going through all of this stuff at the same time. I know it's weird, but I totally related to everything. Also, the main [character], her name is Francisca and that's my real name. I go by Kika, and that's my actress name, but I never told Nick my real name is Francisca.

So when I first read the script, besides totally relating to the story, I remember asking myself, "Did I tell him that my real name is Francisca?" I called him and he's like, "No, you didn't. It was a coincidence." That's when I was like, "Oh my god, this is meant to be." It was a sign.


In case you missed it, check out Heather Wixson's Fantasia review of The Eyes of My Mother, as well as her Fantastic Fest interview with director Nicolas Pesce.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.