While keeping himself busy on television with roles on “Madam Secretary,” “The Good Fight,” and “NCIS,” Sean Patrick Thomas has stepped into the role of Detective Cooper in the Warner Bros. Pictures/New Line Cinema horror film “The Curse of La LLorona”.
The film is the latest within The Conjuring cinematic universe which includes the movies Annabelle and The Nun. Thomas who is no stranger to the horror genre having starred in Halloween: Resurrection, the western horror film The Burrowers and the hit television series American Horror Story chatted with The Knockturnal about his experiences working on The Curse of La Llorona as well as reminisced on the 20th anniversary of the 1999 film Cruel Intentions, which he co-starred in.
The Knockturnal: The Curse of La Llorona is so different from anything you have ever done before what about the script made you want to be apart of it?
Sean Patrick Thomas: Well for me personally I like anything that’s a good story. It’s basically rooted in a family that recently lost their father. I have a similar experience in my life where I lost my father when I was young, so right off the bat I was able to connect to what that is and how that could affect the family. So it started from there for me.
The Knockturnal: Being that La Llorona is a part of the of the Conjuring Universe, have you seen some of the other films franchise and did that help influence your performance?
Sean Patrick Thomas: It’s very separate from the whole Conjuring universe. So it doesn’t have any influence on how I approached this film. This film stands on its own, it has its own aesthetic, its own feel, and so there really at last for my purposes had no connection to being a part of any bigger universe per se.
The Knockturnal: One of our favorite things about the film is that its set in the 70’s how was it revisiting that time and is there something in particular that you love about that era of time?
Sean Patrick Thomas: What I like about it is that there’s a lot of things that go on in the movie where you think if this were to happen now people would be too cynical to believe that these things are going on. But if you go back forty five years it seems like a simpler time when there is so much less cynicism that people are more open to believing these supernatural forces could be at play.
The Knockturnal: You always hear about paranormal activity on set when filming horror movies, did you have any experiences of that happening?
Sean Patrick Thomas: I can honestly say I do not think I felt any paranormal activity filming this film. I will say that there was one night where we shot a scene at a crime scene and there was a very bizarre odor on set that none of us could put our finger on. We were shooting outside near a bridge here in Los Angeles and there was just this weird mysterious odor that just kind of hung over the scene the entire night. It was really kind of a character in the scene although the audience will never know it. There was kind of like this very pungent mysterious smell that really really was kind of spooky. Now that’s not paranormal per say but its something that was unexplainable that night while we were filming which kind of lend itself to the atmosphere of the scene.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with Michael Chaves and how collaborative was the process?
Sean Patrick Thomas: Michael is fantastic. There was some talk earlier, I was talking before about how this is his first time doing a feature film for a studio, and you would never know it. He was totally in control, totally knew what he wanted and had a great vision, had a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of energy and he was a joy to work with because he’s not somebody who comes to set and you worry about what he’s gonna say or be able to communicate with you about what he wants. As an actor that’s all I need, that’s the most important thing to me, does the director know what he wants and is he able to communicate that. Michael is a natural at both of those things and it was a total pleasure to work with him.
The Knockturnal: What do think it is about horror movies and the genre of horror that people excited & still hungry for more?
Sean Patrick Thomas: People crave emotion, they crave an emotional tug, you know whatever that is and horror movies reliably supply that. People like to feel like something in them is being awakened and energized and horror movies do that better than most movies. So I think that horror movies good a horror movie can make you feel electrified once you walk out of the movie.
The Knockturnal: So what is your favorite horror movie, and why?
Sean Patrick Thomas: My favorite horror movie, wow. Aside from The Curse of La Llorona which I think is gonna be very well received and I think is excellent, I think I would say from my personal taste is Cujo. I don’t even know if that’s considered a horror movie but it scared the sh-t out of me because I’m not the biggest dog person. So whenever I see Cujo I want to turn the channel but at the same time I crave that emotional jolt which it gives me. So for me it’s Cujo and there’s no other movie that comes close to scaring the hell out of me.
The Knockturnal: Other than being scared out of their minds what do you think audiences will take a way from the film?
Sean Patrick Thomas: What I hope the audience takes away from it is this is a film that has universal appeal. It’s based on a Latin folklore tale the La Llorona. but it’s something that everyone can understand, everybody can connect to. I love the fact that it’s a Latino family and it’s not just the typical mainstream looking type family that you would see in a movie like this, this family is just like any other family. We’re living in a culture now where people are made to feel like if you’re Latino or if you’re black, or if you’re gay or from any other culture then that dictates the way you think or the way you feel or the way you behave. This movie shows that different types of families that look different they’re exactly like you and they would feel and respond exact same way you do. And I love the fact that this movie has that multicultural feel, I think that’s very important especially in the current climate.
The Knockturnal: We have to ask you. It’s the iconic 20th anniversary of Cruel Intentions tell us a little about your time on set filming it?
Sean Patrick Thomas: Wow that was just an incredible experience. Everybody was just so much fun. The director Roger Kumble was like a mad scientist a mad genius. Working with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Selma Blair, and Ryan Phillippe everybody was just in their prime, on top of their game had tons of energy and inventiveness. It turned out to be one of the thrills of my life just in terms being on set. And I loved the play, it was based on Dangerous Liaisons already. So to do a modern update of that play that I already loved so much even beforehand that was a great thrill.
The Knockturnal: When filming did you have a feeling of how much a cult following Cruel Intentions would go on to have?
Sean Patrick Thomas: No. No when you do a film you never know how it’s gonna be received. I was confident that it would be good because all the actors were so good and because the material was so fresh and witty that I knew it would be good there’s no doubt in my mind about it. But to know twenty years later it’s still people’s favorite movie and they’re re-releasing it, and all that stuff I never could expect that, and that’s all so very gratifying.
The film hits theaters this Friday.