KZ: Hi Anne! How does it feel for you to play an evil role?
A: Pretty good!
KZ: What was the best thing about it?
A: I think the thing that I enjoyed the most was her brazenness, which of course is a bit of a departure from the book because in the book the witches try very very hard to live amongst people and to pass as very nice in this case women.
KZ: Tell us a bit about the process of transforming into the Grand High Witch.
A: The process [involved] having a mould made of my face, so that way they could design prosthetics to fit me seamlessly. That part of the process only took half an hour, maybe 45 minutes. It took a little longer because I got stuck in it… but the actual process of transforming into the full kit – that can take anywhere from four to five hours in the chair in the morning. I just think you have to keep as chill and positive as you can, so I listen to a lot of Oprah Super Soul Sunday podcast.
KZ: Did you watch the original film where Anjelica Houston played the Grand High Witch?
A: I did see The Witches when I was a child. That is one of the most memorable performances that I have ever seen. It’s flawless, it’s perfect and it’s so perfectly pitched for the film she’s in, the brilliantly directed by Nick Roeg. It’s so good that it wouldn’t make any sense to remake this movie unless we were going in a completely different direction, which of course we’ve done. I hope that audiences are able to go with the difference. Whenever I get nervous about that, I keep reminding myself that there have been in the past 30 years, like six Batman and four Jokers, I think three James Bonds and if we include the multi-verse, there have been a lot of Spider-Men too. So I keep reminding myself that we do hold the capacity to hold multiple interpretations to the same part. We do it all the time. You know I don’t think we have as much practice at doing it when it’s two women playing the same role, so I’m just hoping that we all kind of remember that we do afford other characters that option and I hope that we do it this time.
KZ: Tell us about the accent you used!
A: I tried out so many accents before settling on this one. It’s a Norse accent. It’s taken from a line in the book, Roald Dahl describes her as being the child of a Norse demon and so we took our jumping off point off that and I went down an internet rabbit hole. I found a guy and he’s a scholar of ancient Norse poetry and he recited this poem and it was so – I just got chills, it was so kind of eerie and spooky sounding. I thought that it was going to be a poem about casting spells and it was the most banal thing. It was like ‘the cows have come in from the field, the sheep are going to be in soon’, and I just realised if you talk like that, you can make anything sound like you’re casting a spell. Like you could order at the drive through at McDonalds in that accent and it sounds kind of evil.
KZ: What was your favourite Roald Dahl story as a kid?
A: I loved James and the Giant Peach! It made me hungry. It made fruit delicious and there was something about that story where I read it when I was in second grade… I just felt like that book really captures all the uncertainty of what it is to be changing sizes, but to also know that he got through it with help from these amazing friends and they were this gorgeous unexpected group of misfits. My friends and I would describe ourselves as a collection of misfits, so I think it influenced me in that way. Also, I think even back then I wanted to travel and that peach got around.
KZ: Last question – are you afraid of mice?
A: Depends on the mouse. Not the cute ones, but the ones that were in my apartment that I lived in in Brooklyn, yeah I was afraid of those!
Read more of our interview with Anne in the January 2021 issue of K-Zone, on sale now!
Check out our interview with Anne’s The Witches co-star, Jahzir Bruno!