COLOR OUT OF SPACE brings forth the much-awaited return of cult filmmaker Richard Stanley. The film is adapted from a story by H.P. Lovecraft. COLOR OUT SPACE is one of the films that created a lot buzz during the festival rounds last year and now is finally being released nationwide. The film revolves around Nathan Gardner (Nicolas Cage), his wife, Theresa (Joely Richardson) and their three children, Lavinia (Madeleine Arthur), Benny (Brendan Meyer) and Jack (Julian Hilliard). After Theresa’s battle with cancer, Nathan move’s his family to his deceased father’s secluded wooded farm that oozes a certain mystical fairy-tale charm. A meteor hits their land one night releasing an unsettling yet beautiful flash of magenta light. The alien colors infect the water creating strange and gruesome deformities on the crops, the animals and eventually some humans.
There is a bizarre and eccentric charm to Stanley’s past work that makes this particular Lovecraft story the perfect vehicle for Stanley. Lovecraft’s works (including this particular story) have been adapted many times, but more often than not the films fail to capture the unusual spirit of Lovecraft. Stanley is extremely successful in visually capturing this unsettling fantastical allegory.
Jennifer Ortega recently spoke with actress Madeleine Arthur who plays Lavinia in COLOR OUT OF SPACE. Arthur has appeared in films like BIG EYES and FOR ALL THE BOYS IV’E LOVED BEFORE.
Jennifer: I interviewed you once before, FOR ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, and you’re delightful.
Madeleine: Oh, was that on the red carpet?
Jennifer: Yeah that was like a year ago I think.
Madeleine: Yes. I remember meeting you.
Jennifer: Yeah. You played my favorite character in that movie, you’re the authentically edgy teen girl, which always resonates with me, which you are in COLOR OUT OF SPACE too. How old is Lavinia? I’m trying to think. She was a teenager in this.
Madeleine: Lavinia is a teenager.
Jennifer: I loved how the film opened. Just the scene of you at the beginning with the horse was beautiful. It reminded me a little bit of LEGEND, the movie from the 80s, which I love. I love all those old fantasy movies, but this is such a special film, I think, for so many reasons. I’m so glad that it’s gotten a following since the festivals. When you first read the material, what made you want to be in this and then play Lavinia?
Madeleine: When I first read the material, first I loved the script as a whole, and what was really happening about Lavinia was delving into this character who is interested in magic and who horseback rides and who obviously is seriously affected with this color, and how she and her family react to that. So all those are elements that really made me want to play her, as well as working with Richard, and working with Nic and Joely and the rest of the terrific cast. And we filmed in Portugal. So those were all elements that added up to it being like, “Yes, you would absolutely want to be a part of this.”
Jennifer: How was working with Richard Stanley? Because I’m a huge horror & sci-fi fan, and this movie was such a big deal because he is such a beloved director for his past work, and it’s been a while. It’s been many years since he has put out a film. So this was very anticipated and very special, I think, for a lot of people. But how was working with him?
Madeleine: Oh, working with him was fantastic. He has such a vision, and he’s such a natural-born storyteller. Even just speaking with him the way he either tells a story or helps you understand your character. He gave us pages of notes, a couple of pages of notes, at the beginning, before we started filming, on our character, which I’ve never received from a director before. And they were so eloquently written and just helped you understand the mastering and development of your character. And on set, he’s so attentive and gentle, and he’s just meant to be behind the camera.
Jennifer: And then, Nic Cage, to me that’s like a dream to be near him because he’s amazing. How was that experience?
Madeleine: As you say, he’s such an icon, he’s had such a great career and been in so many movies that have influenced the film. You look at ADAPTION, and you look at MOONSTRUCK-
Jennifer: I love that you just said MOONSTRUCK. MOONSTRUCK so good!
Madeleine: I love MOONSTRUCK. He’s an actor that can go into any genre, and he’s terrific at comedy as well as drama. And in this movie, you really get to see the weaving of both of those genres together within the horror. And so, for me, it was an absolute pleasure to work with him.
Jennifer: One of the things I really loved about this film, because the story too, it’s so interesting because it’s dealing with like an entity that’s so foreign to anything we would even begin to imagine or comprehend. But the way it’s portrayed on the screen to me is genius. Because I would always think, how would you even start thinking about how would you portray that, but with the colors and the acting is superb. How did you kind of get into that mindset? Because it is like you’re dealing with such a weird unknown thing that it’s not something you could really draw from personal experience on. So I’m just curious, what did you do as an actress to get into that part?
Madeleine: I’m glad you asked that. Joely’s character, Theresa, my mother in the film, has had cancer and a way to look at, say when she and Julian’s character are fused. It was almost, rather than looking at it as this bizarre entity that is really impossible for the human race to comprehend, it was more looking at her as someone’s going through a serious illness that we could compute. And then, the color itself as it comes in, I feel like Richard would be really good about, “Okay, now all of a sudden that sound is affecting you, and it came from this place in the gut and feeling sick from your gut.” So there was actually never a moment where it was fully like we were seeing the colors going, “I didn’t know how to pretend I’m seeing this.”
Jennifer: It’s just visually beautiful. I love your character too, because she’s different than a lot of roles that are made for teen girls.
Madeleine: I was just going to add that the one moment that was really beautiful to me was when the color at the very end of the film comes up through the well.
Jennifer: I love that scene.
Madeleine: It was kind of going back to the place of ritual and witchcraft. That was like your conjuring it yourself. So once again, through Richard’s guidance, it was easy to feel like we were surrounded by the color and that it was all-encompassing.
Jennifer: I love that you said ritual because it is so embedded in the film and in your character, and I loved the moment at the end where she’s, essentially, she can’t leave. She’s tied. This is her home. But it’s a magical movie. It completely blew me away. I was so happy that it’s out again. Because after Beyond Fest, I wanted to see it again, and I was like, “Oh crap, I can’t. It’s not out yet.” But what do you hope that people take away from it at the end of the day?
Madeleine: I hope at the end of the day that, they appreciate it and enjoy it, and they feel like they have been taken on a wild ride, and maybe question what they would do if they were faced with this intangible force and this cosmic frenzy.
Jennifer: I love that, and I love how it… I went back, and when I was re-watching, I was writing down the quotes at the end of the film and also in the beginning just because they’re amazing how it opens and ends. I love that the roles that you’ve been taking, and I think you’re amazing, and I’m so glad that you’re in this. And I’m so glad that it’s coming out and people can finally see one of the movies I’ve been talking about. I’m obsessed with that opening scene with you and the horse. I’m so glad to talk to you again!
Madeleine: It’s really nice to hear a familiar voice.
Jennifer: You’re amazing. This is such an incredible film, and I’m so happy that you’re in it. And I hope somebody gives you a photo still of the beginning with you and the horse because it’s such a good picture. You should have a picture of that. I’m sure you do.
Madeleine: Yes, I have a few pictures. Actually I have so many pictures from filming in Portugal. I can’t wait to make an album.
Jennifer: It’s one of those movies when you watch, it’s like so visually stunning that you want to cut out little pieces of it and hang it in your house.
Madeleine: I have some of the wallpaper we used in the film. Kitty Byron, our production designer, let me take some home.
Jennifer: Really? Oh my God. I love that. That’s great. Well, thank you so much. I’m just really excited for this to come out and I look forward to seeing your next movie.
Madeleine: Take care. Enjoy the rest of your day. I really hope to speak again.
Jennifer: Me too. Absolutely we will. Thank you, Madeleine.
SYNOPSIS: After a meteorite lands in the front yard of their farm, Nathan Gardner and his family find themselves battling a mutant extraterrestrial organism that infects their minds and bodies, transforming their quiet rural life into a technicolor nightmare.
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2020
DIRECTED BY: Richard Stanley
PRODUCED BY: Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, Elijah Wood, Lisa Whalen
WRITTEN BY: Richard Stanley, Scarlett Amaris
BASED ON: “The Color Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft
STARRING: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Tommy Chong