Since breaking out on the international horror scene for playing the uber-creepy, possessed Niña Medeiros in [REC] (2007), Javier Botet has become a sought-after body actor of enviable esteem. A permanent condition called Marfan Syndrome gives Botet his lanky frame and elongated limbs and fingers, but he’s parlayed this genetic obstacle into a career bringing terrifying manifestations to life.
In the past few years, genre fans have seen Botet in major studio releases including Alien: Covenant, IT: Chapter One, The Conjuring 2, and The Mummy. He’s also the actor who brought the titular Mama to life in Andy Muschietti’s 2013 horror hit. Dread Central was lucky enough to sit down with Botet for an in-depth conversation about his most iconic roles as well as his future plans and aspirations.
We spent a significant portion of our conversation discussing Slender Man, which arrives on Blu-ray and DVD today (October 30th). Give the interview a read below and let us know what you think in the Comments section!
Dread Central: I’m a huge fan of your work. I’ve been following your career since [REC] and every time I see your name attached to a film, I know I’m in for something amazing.
Javier Botet: Thank you!
DC: What was the most difficult role you’ve had to play, either in terms of the appliances you had to wear or the filming conditions, or even on an emotional level?
JB: It’s hard to choose because most of the creatures I play can be difficult with the weight of the makeup and prosthetics. But perhaps the most challenging in terms of physical weight was the alien in Devil’s Gate . The makeup was very heavy and tight; when every part of you is covered, the skin can’t breathe so I was sweating a lot. Slender Man [in Slender Man] is similar in that it was heavy, but the costume was easy to wear and could be put on quickly. But the alien in Devil’s Gate took about five or six hours to create.
But the Slender Man costume made it hard to breathe, because the character has a blank, white face. The mask covered every bit of my face, so I sometimes had to have an assistant put a tube in my mouth just so I could breathe. In terms of acting, Slender Man was also more difficult than many roles I’ve had; like Mama, for example, it took a lot of time for me to get made up, but I could be very expressive. With Slender Man, I couldn’t see or hear and I could barely breathe. I was like a piece of white paper that the viewers write their own fears upon. So, I didn’t want to express anything specific, rather I kept things more general. You know that actors try to express everything they can, but in the case of Slender Man, I didn’t express too much so the audience could fill in the blank places with their own fears.
DC: As far as Slender Man goes, there are a lot of theories presented in the film about what the entity actually is and his motivations and origins, but we never got a concrete explanation. I’m curious what your motivations were as an actor playing that role. In your own mind, who or what is Slender Man? Why does he do what he does and where does he come from?
JB: Slender Man first appeared in 2009 with the original creepypasta, but after he became popular, other writes and filmmakers put their own unique spins on the mythology. It became a collaborative process and I think that’s why Slender Man because so popular and went viral, because everyone wanted to be a part of this phenomenon and this general fear. So, I read a lot about Slender Man and the characters in his world, but then I also met with Victor Surge [who invented the original creepypasta]. After speaking to him, I tried to forget about all of the collaborations and get back to the root of the character. Like I explained before, he wanted something very general and static; something not very expressive so that everybody who sees him can attribute their own fears to him. So, it wasn’t like finding a motivation for the character, it was more like forgetting everything I had learned and returning to nothing.
DC: I thought I spotted you out of costume in Slender Man. Did you have a cameo as the doctor walking down the dark hallway in the hospital?
JB: Yes! Everybody that knows me can see that easily. It’s something I enjoy doing for the serious movie lovers who enjoy finding Easter Eggs. I try to do it in all the movies I can. I also appear out of makeup in Mara and a new film I’m shooting now.
DC: It’s kind of like how Alfred Hitchcock made cameos in his film; a little signature. I think if I hadn’t seen you without makeup in Witching and Bitching, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. It was a neat trick, in Slender Man, with your silhouette coming out of the shadows. It was a meta moment; very clever.
JB: Exactly, and it’s something that only a small group of people can detect; only the serious movie fans will notice.
DC: We’ve been hearing rumors about a sequel to Mama (2013) for years. Was there ever really a plan to make Mama 2 and, if so, what’s the current status of that project?
JB: Well, there was a screenplay a few years ago. It was always a project that could be done, but I don’t know anything about it at this point.
DC: Mama has so much finality in its conclusion, on the one hand, it’s had to imagine where the story would go next. On the other hand, Mama is such a brilliant, iconic, terrifying character, we really want to see more of her.
JB: Yeah, we thought there might be more story to tell, especially in the first year or so after Mama came out. But now that it’s been five years, I think that window has closed. So, I don’t know. I’m more certain about sequels to other films, like a Crooked Man movie from The Conjuring franchise.
DC: Is that definitely happening?
JB: I think it’s happening; I’m not sure, but it’s definitely more likely than a Mama sequel at this point.
DC: Good to know. So, you’ll be returning in IT: Chapter Two, correct?
JB: Yes, yes. We’ll finish filming up in Toronto by the end of October. I have an amazing feeling about what we’re accomplishing.
DC: Since the budget for IT: Chapter Two is reportedly much bigger than 2017’s IT, are there changes to the way your character is being made up and presented?
JB: Well, there are definitely changes. In IT: Chapter One, I played the leper in just a few scenes. But in IT: Chapter Two, I’m doing… more. I can’t say too much about it yet.
DC: Well that’s certainly titillating! So, when I was checking out your IMDB page, I noticed that you write and direct short films in addition to acting. Do you aspire to make a feature film someday?
JB: Yes! I’ve written a movie called Amigo that we shot last year. I’m not the director, but I wrote the screenplay. But I’ve got other projects, stories that I’ve written and want to make into feature films in the future. But there’s no rush because I’m currently so busy being an actor. But I’ll get there one day! I love every aspect of filmmaking and I want to do everything.
DC: Right on. You’re a true Renaissance Man! So, of all the characters you’ve played, who would you most like to play again and see on the big screen again?
JB: There’s the Crooked Man spinoff that I already mentioned. The character’s part in The Conjuring 2 was really small, but there were incredible design elements and I loved the costume. I was, like, “I want to do more!” The producers told me they genuinely have the intention of making this spinoff, so I hope it happens.
DC: We do too! We only got a taste of the Crooked Man in The Conjuring 2; there’s a lot more to be fleshed out there.
JB: I agree.
DC: Is there a fiction character from film or literature or even mythology that you’d like to play? Is there anything on your Wish List?
JB: Yes, there are a lot. I’ve always been a dreamer and there are many characters I want to play. I’d love to play the Psycho Mantis in a Metal Gear movie. Someday, I’d love to play The Joker—but who doesn’t? I’d like to play a villain in a James Bond movie. As far as monsters and creatures, I’ve thought about how I’d love to play Nosferatu or any type of vampire. I’d love to play a part, no matter how small, in a Star Wars movie because I’m a huge fan of those films. But so many of my dreams have already come true, like being a Neomorph in Alien: Covenant. And I’m honored to have filmed a part in the new Star Trek series.
DC: Watching your career over that past ten years or so, it’s been great seeing you get all these meaty roles. Hopefully, your dreams will continue to come true! What are we going to see you in next?
JB: Besides IT: Chapter Two and the new Star Trek, I have a small part in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (produced by Guillermo del Toro). I’m also working on a Spanish drama, but I won’t be in any makeup. That’s my current schedule.
DC: It sounds like you’re keeping busy, and we’ll be following your work. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers before I let you go?
JB: Every time I get interviewed, I always end by mentioning that I really want to be in a Star Wars movie. I just want to keep putting the word out to whoever will listen until somebody makes it happen. I’m like a little child screaming, “I want to be in Star Wars!”
Are you a fan of Javier Botet? What are your favorite characters Botet has portrayed and what are you looking forward to seeing him in next? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!