"The Curse of La Llorona" recently premiered at SXSW. The film follows a single mother as she does whatever it takes to protect her children from the evil spirit of La Llorona. The Daily Texan had the opportunity to sit in on a roundtable discussion with cast members Linda Cardellini, Raymond Cruz, Patricia Velasquez and director Michael Chaves.
What was it like growing up with the legend of La Llorona?
Cruz: Everyone who’s Latin knows La Llorona. She’s our boogeyman, she’s our Frankenstein. We knew about her since we were children. You hear about it from your relatives. We get it — now it’s time for the rest of the world to get it.
Velasquez: Every country has their own version of La Llorona. Growing up in Mexico and Venezuela, my brothers would always scare us with La Llorona. We want to pass the story because it's obviously so important to us.
How did you decide which iteration of La Llorona to incorporate into the film?
Chaves: We researched this a lot. We met with so many people. The funny thing is, the deeper you dig, you realize there are so many variations of the story. Ultimately, we wanted to capture the feeling that kids would have when they hear the story for the first time. We just really wanted to make a fun, scary, ruthless movie. I think the version we have is a more traditional version where she is relentlessly going after children.
How was the cast able to portray frightened characters?
Cruz: You use your imagination. It's not hard considering the environment, the set and the costumes. You put yourself in that reality for that moment.
Velasquez: Also because it's not like we were using a green screen. Marisol (La Llorona) was there. She was giving us so much. It was not hard to get yourself to that place of being scared.
Cardellini: You get your body worked up into a certain state. We are often running, pounding and screaming. When they say cut, your heavy breathing doesn’t necessarily slow down right away.
Why were you drawn to act in the film?
Cardellini: The idea of it was something I’d never really done, especially in this capacity. The film had great roles for women. Typically, when you sit in on these types of projects it's mostly men and few women. It was nice to be somewhere with so many strong women. The three women in the film are three mothers fighting for our children in some way. I love being an actor, and the thing I love about it is getting to do things that are completely different from each other.
Why was the choice made to cast a non-latino as the protagonist?
Chaves: From the beginning, we wanted an outsider — someone who comes in with no understanding (of La Llorona) — so you can have that sense of discovery. What I love about this movie is it is such a great introduction of La Llorona to the world and to people who have never heard of her, so we wanted someone who could really inject that into the movie.
What have you learned from making this movie, and how will you incorporate it with your next project, “The Conjuring 3?”
Chaves: So much stuff. It is the team, it is not one person who makes these movies. I was blessed with such a great team on this. I think that we are assembling such a great team (for “The Conjuring 3”). The Warrens are coming back, of course. We’ve got a great script, a great story. It has been such an education making this movie. I feel some sequences in these films should always be sound first. You should be thinking about what those sounds are before anything else and let those inspire the visuals.