Zoe Lister-Jones talks the pressure (and power) of rebooting The Craft
Zoe Lister-Jones was the weirdo, mister.
As a teenager growing up in Brooklyn, Lister-Jones was what she describes as a "riot girl/rude girl" when The Craft came out in 1996. She remembers watching it at a sleepover party, how the film pushed her personal boundaries when it came to scary movies. But, much to her surprise, as she watched Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Sarah (Robin Tunney), Rochelle (Rachel True), and Bonnie (Neve Campbell) come together and find their power, she "felt seen."
"I had a shaved head and I really did feel, and was made to feel, very much like a weirdo," Lister-Jones tells EW via Zoom. Now 38, she no longer rocks a shaved head. Sitting in her home, she's the picture of a Hollywood actress, with striking blue eyes and a complexion so smooth she could make filters jealous. But she's still a weirdo. Only now, she's the weirdo who's rebooting the Craft franchise.
On Wednesday, The Craft: Legacy will be released on demand and viewers will be introduced to the next generation of teen witches. The film, which was written and directed by Lister-Jones, is more of a continuation than anything else. "It was a challenge that both terrified me and thrilled me," Lister-Jones says. "I feel like when I feel both of those things it's something that I should go towards, lean into."
With a beloved cult classic as her jumping off point, all eyes were on Lister-Jones as she found the next story worth telling within that same universe. "I really wanted this film to stand on its own and not necessarily be beholden to the original," she says. "But I still wanted to pay homage to the original and give fans of the original that nostalgic hit, which is always so fun. There are a lot of Easter eggs in it."
The result is a film about a young woman named Lily (Cailee Spaeny) who moves to a new town and finds herself falling into a different kind of friend group — one that is prone to taking trips to the woods to practice new spells. Much like the original film, the foundation of the story is about friendship and female empowerment. As Lister-Jones puts it, this is a film "about women upholding and uplifting each other." It's a high school experience that mirrors her own. "I had a really tight-knit group of women that were really like my lifeline at a very difficult time," she says. "I feel like it's all too rare that you see those relationships portrayed, so I wanted to make sure that was a priority."
Then you add the witchcraft into the mix and the story becomes all the more female. "The history of witch hunting is very much hand-in-hand with the history of the patriarchy and those institutions being threatened by women's inherent power," Lister-Jones says. "I think we're all witches. I do think that there is a specific and singular power that women have — and I'm including trans women when I say that obviously — that is just inherently witchy."
Witches, weirdos. Whatever you want to call them, they're coming when The Craft: Legacy premieres on demand Wednesday.
Photographs shot exclusively for EW by Daryl Wein.
Styling: Erin Walsh; Hair: Brian Fisher.