Academy Award-winner Octavia Spencer typically plays lovable nurturing types in her films, but she is taking that in a horrific new direction in her new thriller ‘Ma’ which opens next weekend. In that film, she plays a lonely veterinary aide named Sue Anne, who is approached by a group of teenagers who want her to buy them alcohol. She then offers up her basement for a party pad, and pretty soon, she finds herself being the most popular girl in the 12th grade! But the partying tapers off after Sue Anne, or “Ma” as the kids call her, becomes obsessed. When the kids start to avoid her, she doesn’t take it well, and that’s where things get really get dark.
At the film’s premiere, Spencer spoke to Variety and discussed the unique nature of her role.
“Lupita Nyong’o had a film debut at Sundance [the upcoming thriller ‘Little Monsters’], but before that and before ‘Ma’, these types of roles haven’t really been available to women of color. And I think it’s about time that changes. Any young actress, should she want to star in a romantic comedy that should be available to her, if she wants to star in a horror film, that should be available to her. So, it’s exciting to play something outside of the three archetypes that people like to see me in.”
‘Ma’ was produced by low-budget hit-maker Jason Blum, who also chimed in on casting actors of color:
“For so long it hasn’t been the case with horror movies, so I think the audience is starved to see that. We’ve done a lot of movies with African American casts [including collaborating with Jordan Peele on ‘Get Out’ and this year’s ‘Us’, which also starred Nyong’o] and particularly playing parts that African Americans don’t typically play. It’s good business. There’s a real pent-up demand for it.”
That isn’t to say that people of color have been completely omitted from horror. Earlier this year, Shudder presented the documentary ‘Horror Noire’ which detailed the contributions of African Americans to the genre. A reboot of one of the most famous African American-led horror flicks, ‘Candyman’ is in the works.
The cast of ‘Ma’ also includes Dominic Burgess, Luke Evans, Corey Fogelmanis, Allison Janney, Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Gianni Paolo, Heather Marie Pate, Missi Pyle, Diana Silvers, Kyanna Simone Simpson, and Victor Turpin. ‘Ma’ was directed by Tate Taylor.
The film opens on May 31.