Jena Malone: ”Sold My Soul to the Indie Film Devil” and Thrived
The feminist possession thriller “Consecration” stars the actress in a sharp genre twist, reflecting the kind of eclectic taste that Malone tells IndieWire is key to her.
It’s a long, treacherous road for child stars. Many do not make it to adulthood unscathed and rarely show respectable careers. However, like Kristen Stewart or Daniel Radcliffe, Jena Malone has settled comfortably into a mature genre that features auteur-driven indie music (to stay relevant) with a bit of popular studio fare (to stay afloat).
Once a precocious kid who brought unexpected gravitas to blockbusters like “Contact” (1997) and “Stepmom” (1998), he successfully transitioned into an artsy indie favorite in “Donnie Darko” (2001). Since then, he’s excelled in everything from horror to sci-fi to period comedies, with his singular screen presence in ‘The Neon Demon’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ without missing a beat.
So what’s the secret?
“Maybe I sold my soul to the indie film devil and made a moderate sacrifice of blood every new moon or something.” That would be really wild,” the actress said in a recent video interview with IndieWire. “I don’t know. I’m stubborn and I know what I like. I’ve never needed a career. I’ve never needed to achieve this next thing and then what you do next, it’s never felt linear. I feel like the linear my focus is like, I love discovery. When that discovery is exciting, I’m so immersed that I give it my all.”
He added: “I have a pretty decent work ethic. I’m a good worker, recovering grind culture perfectionist. I think if you do a good job, people will want to work with you again.”
Malone continues this exploration in the new feminist horror “Consecration,” in which she plays a woman haunted by demons from a childhood she barely remembers. When her brother mysteriously dies in a monastery, the diabolical fear-mongering of a religious sect becomes involved.
The screenplay was written and directed by Christopher Smith (“Black Death”).
“I loved the idea that empowered women throughout time were… assets, that’s evil, that’s the devil. Any empowerment or superpower that femininity has ever had is immediately wrong,” she said. “I think it’s so interesting to explore the reimagining of the second coming as a female vessel, and of course everyone thinks that’s a negative thing, but really it’s just the empowerment of creation, the ability to give and take life. . In a way, it’s a real feminine device.”
Having worked consistently for the past three decades, Malone has an insider’s view on how (if at all) the portrayal of women in Hollywood has changed.
“I think the short summary is that if somebody gets it, they get it, and it’s exciting and it’s new. It sits on your tongue like a new understanding of something very old,” Malone said. “We are changing the way we think about erasing binaries and re-examining different aspects of masculinity, femininity and just humanity. We keep thinking that we can just put one element in and it will change everything, but what we really have to do is start with the element we want to discover and then build a new apparatus around it.”
As for the conditions of women behind the scenes, although he sees room for improvement, he is patiently optimistic.
“I’m always optimistic. Even 10 years ago, I was optimistic,” he said. “I think the thing to be optimistic about is building language, learning to add words and colloquialisms to things that haven’t been spoken well in the past, and learning how to build alliances specifically for our own well-being. I think it’s a really cool byproduct of where #MeToo started and is now going because of the pandemic. It’s a really beautiful awareness not only of power structures, but of “Honey, we need a break. Let’s have better hours on set, let’s be kind to each other.”
Adequate rest seems particularly appropriate for someone who started his career at the age of eight, although he has only good things to say about his time on the set.
“I grew up on sets. He taught me so much,” she said. “Not being as involved in school and fourth (to sixth grade) was a really awkward time for me in my transition. I can be in an internship where my voice is heard, recognized and respected. … They brought it to the table. I may have been 10 years old and everyone else was older, but my voice was still just as interesting and valid. I think there’s something really unique about that. … For me, it was a very nice experience to play in that world. I was still a child, but I had a very beautiful voice and respect.”
“Consecration” hits theaters on Friday, February 10th and on Shudder on Friday, March 3rd.
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