Casting Mama’s title character was a critical decision for the filmmakers. Director Andy Muschietti had seen Javier Botet in the Spanish horror film [Rec] and recognized the actor as perfect for the part of the spectral creature who haunts the film. (No spoilers here, if you want to see how perfect Botet is for the part, you’ll have to see the movie!)
Standing an astonishing 6 1/2 feet tall — with uncommon body features and physical abilities corresponding to his measurements — Botet moves delicately, deliberately and terrifyingly as Mama.
Producer and screenwriter (and sister to the director) Barbara Muschietti says, “Javier doesn’t speak a word, but he speaks volumes.” Executive producer Guillermo del Toro describes Botet’s work as “art, dance and creepy mime.”
In order to further achieve his vision of the character, Andy Muschietti conducted a series of physical tests with Botet that involved manipulating the actor’s body movement. Together, they ultimately found the right balance of actor, prosthetics and digital effects. Fear is generated through the physicality of a real and living Mama, and the challenge was to balance computer-generated effects with prosthetics.
The renowned Mr. X visual-effects team led by Edward Taylor provided the hyperrealistic element of Mama’s hair, while the Oscar-winning Spanish makeup effects team of Montse Ribé and David Martí, of DDT Effects, built the prosthetics that elongated Botet’s neck and fingers and brutally distorted his face to showcase a specter who has lost more than one could ever imagine.
A longtime proponent of blending visual effects with special effects, del Toro suggested Ribé and Martí to the Muschiettis. He says: “I trust them completely. From The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, The Orphanage … I think they are one of the best teams of makeup prosthetic effects in the world right now, and frankly ever. They are a pair of geniuses, and I knew they were going to be able to interpret Andy’s ideas for Mama.”
Costume designer Luis Sequeira constructed Mama’s flowing dress to mirror her digitally generated floating hair — not a simple task when the hair was yet to be created and the actor was wearing a bald cap. Since Mama walks, flies, grows and mutates throughout the film, Sequeira had to create 15 versions of the same dress. Each one was hand-sewn and dyed to appear seamlessly from scene to scene as a single dress with a long tail.
Mama is available starting May 7 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2013 Universal Studios