The Craft star on her surprising return in the sequel
It's been 24 years since The Craft's Nancy Downs (Fairuza Balk) entered our lives, and in those years, the film's popularity only seems to have grown, until eventually, it achieved the status of a cult classic. So when writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones set out to make The Craft: Legacy, she knew one thing: She had to pay homage to the original. Furthermore, she had to involve Nancy Downs.
Lister-Jones' pitch for the reboot actually revolved around Balk's character, revealing that Nancy is the birth mother of the reboot's main character. The result was the return of Nancy in the reboot's final moments, as Lily (Cailee Spaeny) visits her mom.
EW spoke with Balk about what it was like to return to her iconic character and whether this is just the beginning of Nancy's story.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get involved in the reboot?
FAIRUZA BALK: I was approached at a show by [producer] Jason Blum. He came up to me and introduced himself, and said, "We'd really like to do something with The Craft. Are you interested in being involved?" I was like, "Eh, I don't know." I didn't know what to say because I didn't know him, and I've had so many people say, "I wish I wish I wish." Then I got a call from my manager that Zoe [Lister-Jones] wanted to meet me. So we met at a restaurant, and we got along really well, and her idea was that she wanted to do a take on the same kind of idea but for a modern generation and one that reinforces women supporting women as opposed to women fighting women. And that I was the mother of the central character. She was still working out where it was all going to go. It went through a lot of different incarnations. But the reason that I got involved was because her motivation was a really positive one. There are so many movies that are reinforcing women fighting women and the bitchiness. We've had so much of that; we know that already. The whole movement that's happening nowadays in regards to women and taking back their power and setting definite lines as to what's acceptable and what's not and insisting on those changes being implemented in the world is really long overdue, and it's happening finally! More and more women are stepping up and owning their power, and that is a positive thing, and that was why I wanted to work with her.
How did you all decide Nancy's look after all these years?
They don't really let you know how or why she's in an insane asylum. She can't have been there all these years, that's impossible. Well, it's not impossible, but it's pretty unlikely, which they don't really explain, but if you are in one of those places, they don't generally let you have makeup. She's not supposed to look well put together; it should be the very farthest from that. I think if they'd done this reveal and she looked fabulous, that would've been a different take. [Laughs] It's very different, and I wondered, "Will people even recognize her?" Because it's 20-something years later and I no longer have a moon face, I'm all cheekbones and long hair and no makeup, but I guess people did. Evidently, people really, really love that character, and that's been a nice thing to find out. [Laughs] When you're an actor, you go, you do your work, and then you move on, and when you find out years later that the art that you made did its job, reached people, it's a wonderful feeling. Let's you know that you're doing it right.
It's such a short scene but did you and Zoe talk about Nancy's headspace at all?
The core of that character, when we did the original, was fury. She was very quick-tempered because she's fed up with her life and her situation and being stuck as a kid; you can't take things into your own hands to make the changes that you want to change your life. That was the emotional center of that character at the time. And Zoe wanted some of that to definitely be there.
Zoe mentioned a potential sequel. Would you be interested in playing Nancy again in the future if given the opportunity?
It would depend on the story, if it would be a challenge and something fun. My whole reason for being involved was Zoe's pitch. She's very, very smart. She was coming from a very positive space in what she was trying to achieve, and that's why I was involved in this one. But it would depend on what they write and what they come up with, I suppose. It's not like, "Oh, yes, give me the chance to be this angry again!" [Laughs] It takes a lot of energy, being psychotic.
The Craft (reboot)