Why you won't see Nicolas Cage's terrifying “Longlegs” transformation until premiere (exclusive)

Why you won't see Nicolas Cage's terrifying “Longlegs” transformation until premiere (exclusive)

The actor himself and director Osgood Perkins talk about keeping the film's elusive serial killer character elusive.

There's a reason why you haven't seen the titular Longlegs serial killer of Osgood Perkins' upcoming horror movie in any trailer or comparable marketing thus far. You may have seen a close-up of his eyes or a glimpse of a smile or the character's back from odd angles, but you won't see the transformation of Nicolas Cage full on until you're seated in a theater — leaks be damned.

"It's driving people towards a freak show at a circus tent," Perkins tells Entertainment Weekly in an exclusive interview. "We've got the thing behind the curtain, and when there's enough people gathered 'round, we're going to pull the curtain."

"It's the equivalent of putting a warning label on a jar of nitroglycerin," Cage says. "The monster is a highly, highly dangerous substance. The way it's moved, unveiled, deployed has to be treated very carefully. Forget about the movie theater blowing up; the whole city could blow up, nay the country, maybe even the world. He is going to change your reality. Your doors of perception are going to open, and your life is not going to be the same."

<p>Neon</p> Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe star in 'Longlegs'


Nicolas Cage and Maika Monroe star in 'Longlegs'

Related: Nicolas Cage's Longlegs teaser gives us 85 seconds of gnomic dread

You may think he's exaggerating, but Longlegs has already creeped into the minds of audiences out of an early showing at Los Angeles-based genre festival Beyond Fest. Written and directed by Perkins (Gretel & Hansel), the film stars Maika Monroe as Lee Harker, an F.B.I. agent who's more in tune with the supernatural and the forces beyond our control than most. She's tracking a Satanic serial killer in the 1990s who goes by the name Longlegs and leaves a coded message written in symbols at every crime scene.

Blair Underwood plays Lee's boss, Agent Carter, and Alicia Witt plays Lee's mother, Ruth Harker.

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Cage's Longlegs clearly plays an integral part in the film's plot, but Perkins deftly plays with camera angles and perspective — as well as one particular jump scare that occurs early on — so that even theater-goers don't get a good look at the elusive figure until they're a ways into the story. The effect is that you can constantly feel his presence, even when he's not in frame.

<p>NEON</p> Maika Monroe's Lee Harker in 'Longlegs'


Maika Monroe's Lee Harker in 'Longlegs'

Related: Nicolas Cage to swing onto the small screen in live-action Spider-Noir series

The filmmaker admits he thought a lot about when to finally reveal Longlegs in full. "Editing a picture is a nearly psychedelic experience," he says. "It really is because it's so infinite. The permutations and combinations you can get from putting this there and that there, you're in a Rubik's Cube of possibilities. I think we found the sweet spot. This guy lives just outside the consciousness of our protagonist. He's there, but he's totally not there, but he's totally there."

Perkins spoke in the past about connecting his work, such as 2015's The Blackcoat's Daughter to 2016's I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, to something personal in his own life. The twist was that Cage also found a personal connection to Longlegs. The actor, seen recently in Arcadian and Dream Scenario, remembers meeting Perkins for the first time at a restaurant. "He blurted out, 'This is a movie about my mom,' which isn't what you expect to hear from a director of a horror film," Cage recalls. "And I said, 'Well, oddly enough, Oz, I see this character as being about my mom and everything she had to deal with.'"

Cage's mother, the late Joy Vogelsang, struggled with schizophrenia and severe depression throughout his childhood. The actor channeled a lot of that into the Longlegs character. "I was coming at it from, what exactly was it that drove my mother insane?" he explains. "It was a deeply personal kind of performance for me because I grew up trying to cope with what she was going through. She would talk in terms that were kind of poetry. I didn't know how else to describe it. I tried to put that in the Longlegs character because he's really a tragic entity. He's at the mercy of these voices that are talking to him and getting him to do these things."

<p>Neon</p> Maika Monroe's Lee Harker in 'Longlegs'


Maika Monroe's Lee Harker in 'Longlegs'

Related: TIFF: Osgood Perkins on the chilling I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

For Perkins, the film was more about how sometimes you don't know what is happening in your own house. "That's what Longlegs is," he adds. "Sometimes you don't know what lives there with you."

He mentions his famous father, actor Anthony Perkins of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho fame. "Living in a family that was at once very public and at the same time my father suppressing his sexuality and truth about himself, a lot of that was very submerged in my house," the director elaborates. "I think that, as children, we know everything. It's just a question of: do we have the tools or the language or the permission to really fully understand? So Longlegs, at its core, is about that. The things that are under your feet are sometimes the hardest things to see."

Tickets are now on sale for Longlegs, which Neon will release in theaters on July 12.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.