Mia has been a goth writer’s secret weapon since her preternatural debut at age 18 in Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac.” Since then, she has been a scene-stealer in Luca Guadagnino (2018’s “Suspiria”), Claire Danes (2018’s “High Life”) and Autumn de Wilde (2020’s “Emma”). Last year her profile exploded after she starred in T West’s twin horror films “X” and “Pearl”. She co-wrote the latter, which centers on a girl intoxicated by the idea of stardom and desperate to escape her dreary life on a farm. Goth’s next project is the eagerly anticipated Sundance film “Infinity Pool,” a psychological thriller directed by “Possessor” helmer Brandon Cronenberg.
You have worked in many bold films with unique directors. How do you choose your project?
Well, the director is the first and foremost factor when deciding which project I will do next. If you don’t have complete confidence in the person steering the ship, there’s really not much point in getting involved in a project. When I’m watching a movie myself, I’m drawn to: Who’s directing the movie? From there, it has a trickle-down effect on everything that goes on in the film.
What specifically drew you to “Infinity Pool”?
The first thing that interested me about this project was Brandon. I had seen his previous films and was a huge fan of them, and thought he had a really unique view of the world. He’s incredibly thought-provoking, and as with all his movies it’s not a “kick back and relax” kind of experience. It’s very engaging and engaging, and what I think movies should be. That’s how I think they should be made – to challenge the audience in one way or another. And so I was very excited to get his script; I got it when I was shooting “Pearl” in New Zealand. I was just so curious that on my Sunday off I poured myself a cup of coffee and opened the script, and within about four pages I knew it was something I had to do and be a part of.
As an actor, you use the full range of your emotions, from big moments to subtle nuances. How do you decide the best paradigm is to go for it vs. pull back?
The whole process is pretty intuitive on that front. It’s something that you just sort of feel, and once you get set and you understand the day and what’s needed, and you’re thinking again about where your character came from and where he’s going and taking all that into account, you really Follow your gut and your instincts more than anything.
Which of your roles was the most difficult to play?
I would say Pearl. I believe Pearl has fundamentally changed me as a performer. It gave me a whole new confidence and a whole new level of confidence in terms of what I thought I was capable of doing. It was a lot, but just incredibly rewarding and such a gift to play. I really feel it has fundamentally changed me in so many other ways.
Was there a moment in the last year when you began to realize that “Pearl” had taken off in pop culture?
It’s really wild to witness. I’ve never been a part of anything that resonates with people like “Pearl” and “X,” but even after you’ve witnessed it all, I have a strange sense of detachment from it all. It doesn’t feel real in many ways and it’s weird but amazing. It is so exciting and such a gift.
Are there any specific challenges or risks you want to take in the future, in front of or behind the camera?
I want to do movies in other languages. I speak Spanish and Portuguese and there are a few performances I’ve seen with other actors where they’ve done that and I’ve always been really impressed by it. I think it will be a big challenge. Also, something I haven’t done before. I never want to be stuck in one thing. I want to do anything that constantly challenges me in different ways. This is something that will always be very welcome.
Are there any directors you’d like to work with and/or filmmakers who have influenced your taste in film?
I love Andrea Arnold. I think he’s an incredible director and somewhat underrated. I saw “Fish Tank,” which was the first film I ever did, right around the time I was filming “Nymphomaniac.” I found “Fish Tank” to be as influential to me as the experience filming with Lars, and those two elements really formed my blueprint for what I’m trying to do when I was 18 years old. As an actor and the kind of directors I try to work with and achieve the kind of story I want to tell and the kind of filmmaking that resonates with me the most. What excites me the most is the very little plot, very character-driven story where not much happens beyond whatever a few people in the film go through. For me, this is the best movie ever. I think once you get over a certain budget, sometimes you get into $15, $20 million, you lose something because they’re answering to so many people. Then you start thinking about the results in a different way. You lose human beauty.
In the same way that many of your films are so bold and artistic, you also take a lot of creative risks on the red carpet. How would you define your style?
I think less is more, and I gravitate towards more timeless pieces and classics, but the angles that occur can have a bit of a modern flair. There are some incredible designers I get to work with and they are able to balance timelessness and modern flair with strong looks.
Is there anything you find annoying about “MaXXXine”? [the final film of the trilogy that includes “X” and “Pearl”]?
This is by far the best script of the three. This is going to be the best movie of the three. We are all so tight now. This is going to be our third film that we’re working on together and everyone is coming back together, so it’s bringing the band back together. We just have a shorthand with each other. We know how everyone works and we are all very excited. This is the biggest story of the three with the highest stakes and Maxine has been through a lot at this point. So when we find him in this new world, he’s just a force to be reckoned with and he goes on some pretty wild adventures.
Are you filming later this year?
Yes, I am preparing the script, doing my homework, preparing everything. Then let it all go after you’re set and hope some magic comes out of it.