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Interview: Mason Thames Talks Horror Adaptation The Black Phone

Mason Thames (Walker, For All Mankind) stars in the supernatural horror film adaptation The Black Phone, based on the 2004 short story by Joe Hill. Directed by Scott Derrickson who co-wrote the screenplay with C. Robert Cargill, the must-see movie had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in September and will arrive in theaters on February 4, 2022.

“Finney Shaw (Thames), a shy but clever 13-year-old boy, is abducted by a sadistic killer and trapped in a soundproof basement where screaming is of little use,” reads the official synopsis. “When a disconnected phone on the wall begins to ring, Finney discovers that he can hear the voices of the killer’s previous victims. And they are dead set on making sure that what happened to them doesn’t happen to Finney.”

ComingSoon’s Senior Movie & TV Editor Kylie Hemmert spoke with the 14-year-old Thames about playing Finney, what it was like working with the team behind one of his favorite horror movies, Sinister, filming intense scenes opposite Ethan Hawke, and more.

RELATED: The Black Phone Trailer: Ethan Hawke Plays Sadistic Killer in Scott Derrickson’s Horror Pic

Kylie Hemmert: You were awesome as Finney in the film.

Mason Thames: Thank you so much.

I was wondering if you could share what you loved most about playing this character and what made you want to be a part of this adaptation?

Well, Finney just really caught my eye. I auditioned normally and I felt a really strong connection with Finney. I felt sympathy for him and I really just want to do the character justice the best I can. And Scott Derrickson, the director, really helped me, you know, fit into the character and really helped me know what I [needed] to do. Scott and everybody really helped me fit in.

What was it like working on your first horror project, especially with Scott Derrickson at the helm?

For my first movie, this was definitely huge, and working with Scott Derrickson is like a dream come true. I mean, it was incredible. I was definitely scared at first, but meeting Scott and Ethan and everybody, they really put me at ease.

Are you a fan of the horror genre? Do you have any favorite scary movies or books?

Oh, I love horror movies. Probably my favorites would be, I’m gonna say Halloween for one of them just because that was my first horror movie I ever saw. So, that’s one of my favorites and the next one is probably Insidious. I remember the red devil guy really scared me when I was younger. And Sinister, I used to be really scared because the kids in that movie got really creepy and I was little when I watched that. That definitely creeped me out for months.

With Sinister being one of your favorite scary movies, how excited were you to get to work on a project with the same group behind that movie?

In my first meeting with Scott, I was so nervous but he is such a great person that the second we started talking, I wasn’t nervous anymore. We hit it off right away. That first meeting was when Scott told me that Ethan Hawke was going to play The Grabber. In my mind, I thought, “Oh my God, it’s the Sinister team reunited and I am going to be part of this movie!” I remember one of the meetings we had in pre-production was over Zoom and it was Scott, Ethan, and I. Just listening to them talk about the movie was amazing. The excitement was off the charts.

They also told me how excited [producer] Jason Blum was as well. The script that Scott and Cargill wrote was incredible and it’s based on a Joe Hill story. The trailer shows you some of the original aspects of Joe’s story; what it doesn’t show you is there is so much more going on than what you see in the trailer. People will be shocked. The trailer itself is terrifying but the movie even more so.

Back to your original question, this has absolutely been a dream come true. I am so honored that they wanted me to play Finney.

Ethan Hawke fully embraced this very creepy and terrifying sadistic serial killer role. How intense were those scenes to film opposite him as The Grabber? And did he have any advice when you guys were working together?

I mean he had hundreds of words of wisdom. I can’t really bring them to the top of my head because there were so many. The scenes were definitely intense, but almost after every scene, he’d make me feel better. He’d be like, “It’s all right. It’s all right.” I mean, I wasn’t scared of him because he was such a nice person, but I gotta say when he was The Grabber, it was definitely scary. [laughs]

The Black Phone does a really great job of drawing the audience into the setting of this small town in North Denver in 1978. Did you feel transported into another time while you were shooting the film?

Yes. Seeing all the cars and stuff was really cool, and the clothes were definitely different. The jeans were really high and I liked those. It was just really different, you know, it was really cool how everybody on set and everybody who worked on the film really changed everything. I mean, it was incredible.

Madeleine McGraw and Jeremy Davies play your family in the film, and the siblings really have to lean on each other, partly because of that relationship with their father who is an abusive alcoholic. What was it like filming with them and establishing that family dynamic?

Jeremy Davies and Madeleine McGraw are amazing. I mean, working with them was obviously incredible. Working with Jeremy, seeing how he — he’s a character actor, so seeing how he puts himself into the character, I mean, just like Ethan, it’s nothing like how he is in real life. And seeing how he works, it was like I was taking a master class. He and Maddie are just incredible.

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