MaXXXine Star Mia Goth on How Ti West’s Trilogy ‘Changed Me Forever’ 5

Much has been made about how filmmaker Ti West has reinvented and refreshed the slasher genre by paying homage to the classics in his A24 trilogy X, Pearl and the upcoming MaXXXine. His leading lady, Mia Goth, agrees with the positive praise and adds that the back-to-back-to-back gigs have also reshaped something else — her career.

“The work has given me a whole new level of confidence that I hadn’t had before,” the 30-year-old actress told The Hollywood Reporter while standing outside the TCL Chinese Theatre minutes before the June 24 world premiere. “It changed me forever.”

Specifically, Goth points to playing the title character Pearl in the technicolor gore-fest that served as the prequel to 2022’s X and was released the same year. X found Goth playing Maxine, a young porn actress who accompanies pals from the adult film industry to a remote Texas farmhouse in 1979 where an elderly couple is revealed to be savage hosts. She also took on a second role as one half of that couple, the wife named Pearl, whose origin story unfolds in the bloody prequel, revealing that she and Maxine share similar dreams of stardom.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever have another role quite like Pearl again,” Goth said of the part that cast her as a disturbed young woman living on a farm where she’s tasked with caring for an ill father while under the authoritarian rule of a German mother. “I feel very grateful because I many actors go for an entire career and never have that sort of platform. It showed me that I can listen to my gut, to my intuition and follow what feels right to me. Because when I’m given the space, and the setting is right and I feel comfortable in that sort of environment, it really can potentially create an environment where as a performer I can blossom.”

Mia Goth in Pearl, which also landed her a first credit as an executive producer.

Courtesy of Christopher Moss/A24

West said that audiences will see Goth in a new light in MaXXXine, which picks up six years after the events of X. Maxine Minx, the lone survivor of what is being referred to as the “Texas porn star massacre, is now living in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, and pursuing her dreams of crossing over from X-rated films to mainstream Hollywood. But the fatal events of that trip and a mysterious serial killer threaten to derail her rise to stardom.”

MaXXXine is different than the other movies,” West explained. “It’s a very fun movie and I think people are really stoked to see her in a new way from the other movies. She’s a completely fearless actor, and when we made X, that’s what I was looking for and what we found [in Mia].”

West also discovered that Goth was tireless in accepting the rigorous filming schedule that ensued when Pearl and MaXXXine were greenlit in quick succession after the breakout success of X. “We ended up making these other movies back to back after X in the craziest of circumstances and she was game for it from the very beginning. She’s just the right collaborator to play, and she knows this character inside and out. That’s why people are relating to it so much because the way she’s portraying it is so authentic.”  

MaXXXine’s all-star cast also includes Elizabeth Debicki, Lily Collins, Halsey, Michelle Monaghan, Bobby Cannavale, Giancarlo Esposito, Sophie Thatcher, Moses Sumney and Kevin Bacon. Debicki, who scored just about every possible nomination for her turn as Princess Diana in Netflix’s prestige series The Crown, takes a supporting role as a feminist B-movie director who casts Maxine in her first crossover project, a satanic possession film titled The Puritan II.

Goth (left) and Halsey in MaXXXine.

Justin Lubin/Courtesy of A24

Debicki told THR that she’s not a consumer of horror — the last genre pic she watched was Hereditary and she’s still winces at the thought of it — but she is a fan of the trilogy for one reason. “They’re performance pieces for Mia and I love that about these films. It’s so beautiful when you get to see an actress’s full wheelhouse. I love to champion films where women just get to show you what they are capable of. It’s delightful. I love actors. I like the work and I like being opposite them and watching what they do. It’s the greatest kind of play you can do.”

For Goth, she credits her relationship with West for making that type of creative playground possible for her as a performer. “I’ve never had a relationship with a director like that,” explained Goth who has previously starred in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. II, Claire Denis’ High Life, Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria, Sergio G. Sanchez’s Marrowbone, Gore Verbinski’s A Cure for Wellness and Autumn de Wilde’s Emma. “It didn’t feel like I was just a hired gun on a movie set. I was really involved in the entire process from its conception to the post-production on Pearl. It opened my eyes to what is available, what is possible.”

Pearl debuted at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022, and Goth said West presented her with a script for MaXXXine and she was taken immediately. “I loved it,” said the actress, who also produced the film. “Every scene was so memorable with all of the iconic locations in Hollywood. There’s so much history behind all of them, but I would say that my favorite was filming on the Universal lot. That was very cool.”

As for what the future holds for their collaborations, West said he needs to catch his breath and take a bit of a break before he decides. “I don’t know what’s next. I’m so tired because we’ve been doing this for three and a half, maybe four years nonstop. But, yeah, I would work with her again in a second.”

MaXXXine opens July 5.

Mia Goth and Ti West at a Pearl premiere during the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 12, 2022.

Kevin Bacon, Halsey, Elizabeth Debicki, Moses Sumney, Mia Goth, Giancarlo Esposito, Lily Collins, Ti West and producer Jacob Jaffke at the premiere of A24’s MaXXXine on June 24, 2024.

Stewart Cook/Getty Images for A24

Mia Goth and Ti West at the premiere.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Mia Goth in MaXXXine

A24/Justin Lubin

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