It’s been 24 years since The Craft bewitched viewers and introduced one of the most iconic covens in mainstream cinema. Starring Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous), Robin Tunney (Prison Break), Neve Campbell (Scream) and Rachel True (Half & Half), the supernatural horror follows four high school students who dabble in the art of black magic – to disastrous effect, of course. The film received mixed reviews at the time, but has since achieved cult classic status due its dark themes and for departing from clichés of the teen movie genre.
Although its long-awaited sequel, sub-titled Legacy, could have benefitted from an extra half hour runtime, it’s the rare reboot slash revival that manages to successfully pay homage to the original while expanding on its mythology. It also provides viewers with some much-needed trans representation with Zoey Luna’s character, Lourdes, one of the new core four witches who gets more than she bargained for when she experiments with sorcery.
I was attracted and also frightened by the fact that I’d be playing a punk trans witch!"
“My initial attraction to Lourdes was that she was trapped in a wedge, getting kicked out by her mom,” says Zoey. “That was something that, only a couple months ago, I had really related to, because before I got the audition, my mom had kicked me out of my home. So, I really related to Lourdes and I saw a character that was so human. That’s what really attracted me to her. Also, I think I was attracted and also frightened by the fact that I’d be playing a punk trans witch!”
Here, we chat with Zoey about her groundbreaking character in The Craft: Legacy, how Lourdes is unlike any other witch put to screen, and how the film’s trans representation would’ve impacted her as a trans youth. Oh, and she also delves into the supernatural occurrences that befell the cast and crew on-set. Let’s get spooky!
Were you a fan of The Craft before you signed on to the film?
No, I had seen bits and pieces growing up. I remember trying to watch the movie when, I think when I was 16, and I couldn’t get past Robin Tunney’s wig. I had to stop watching it. But when I was in the audition process, I did watch the movie, and I loved it. I really resonated with all the girls and I thought the teenagers were just so real, especially considering how many friendship groups I went through that were very closely resembling of The Craft.
What attracted you to the character of Lourdes?
My initial attraction to Lourdes was that she was trapped in a wedge, getting kicked out by her mom. That was something that, only a couple months ago, I had really related to, because before I got the audition, my mom had kicked me out of my home. There was some family drama, and she decided to choose someone over me, who agreed that I should be removed from the home. So, I really related to Lourdes and I saw a character that was so human. That’s what really attracted me to her. Also, I think I was attracted and also frightened by the fact that I’d be playing a punk trans witch!
How does Zoe Lister-Jones portray the trans experience through the fantasy genre?
I think she really nailed it. I think she found ways to incorporate my identity as a trans woman in a way that was so seamless, and not necessarily overkill. I’m very appreciative of the way that she wrote my character and included her identity without being super noisy about it, and I’m glad that she made Lourdes into a character who was just a trans witch. Being trans doesn’t define her identity.
Queer people seem to be obsessed with witchcraft, myself included – why do you think that is?
I think queer people are so aware of themselves and their identities. Queer people just really tend to understand spirituality. For me, I got very into astrology because of all of the boys I had dated. I really wanted to understand them! So, if they weren’t going to open up and tell me about themselves, I had to find my own research. All of their family and parents would be like, ‘Tell me about them, what’s their worst quality?’ so I got into astrology to really understand these men, and then I feel like that might also have the same effect with other queer people. I think queer people are super into The Craft because it’s something unworldly, and a lot of the times our identities are considered unworldly and kind of like a myth. So, I feel like we have a hand-in-hand understanding of each other.
Did you look to any specific witches in pop culture for inspiration?
Honestly, none of them. I mean, okay, a little bit of Misty Day because she is caring about animals. But I can’t attribute my character as Misty because my favourite witch of all time is definitely Madison Montgomery from American Horror Story. I don’t think I correlated my character with any other witches because my character is just such a different person from any other witches I’ve seen, and I felt that was a plus for me. I just had to create a different more indie punk version of myself and bring that to life.
How would you describe Lourdes?
I would say that Lourdes is a very understanding person who has a lot of heart. She’s the person that has always been super empathetic, because she’s been very empathetic to herself in her situation and how she’s grown up. Lourdes is very mature for her age, and is very keen on making sure everything is trusting, instead of being so rude. She is a loving person. But love and trust, it has to be earned. She’s very intuitive.
Although we’ve seen a bit of a rise in authentic trans representation on television, it’s still non-existent in film. How important is it for trans stories to be told on the small screen and big screen?
Trans people go through so many freaking things, that it’s very interesting to explore for filmmakers, producers and studios. My life has basically been a movie. I can’t wait until the day where I finally sit my ass down and write my own movie about what has happened to me. It’s important to share our narratives and our experiences, because, first of all, a lot of people see trans people as just trans people, but we go through a lot of stuff that a lot of people go through, because we’re people. I’ve personally been a victim of race, I’ve been a victim of being profiled as a trans woman and also as a Latina. I know that I am white passing and that my skin colour is a lot lighter than I guess what’s normal, for how traditional Latina’s would look like, but I have had different skin tones throughout my life depending on what summer it was. I have experienced a lot of different things outside of my trans experience. Hollywood needs to wake up and understand that we don’t just go through transition, hormones and makeup. We go through experiences that are honestly amazing, even though it’s so fucking graphic.
Would it have meant to your younger self, seeing a character like Lourdes on screen?
I mean, it would have been an answer to all the questions I had about how I felt, and about how I perceived myself. It would have made a lot of sense to me, because I never knew about the word ‘transgender’ when I was younger. There wasn’t many terms except for ‘transsexual’ and words like that. I was young and I didn’t really understand a lot about my own identity. If I were a kid now growing up with all of these questions and concerns about my identity not matching what other people assume it to be, I wouldn’t be floored. I would have been like, ‘Guys, come here, this movie, that character, that’s how I feel.’ So if I couldn’t explain in words, she would have definitely said it for me.
I have experienced a lot of different things outside of my trans experience. Hollywood needs to wake up and understand that we don't just go through transition, hormones and makeup.
Does Legacy reflect what’s going on right now in our political climate?
It’s a movie that is perfectly timed and Gideon [Adlon] says this a lot, but considering what young girls are going through, being under such a horrible presidency and being in this country where there’s a man that says, ‘Grab ’em by the pussy’, it’s very scary for young girls to live in this climate. I feel like this movie is a love letter and also like, ‘Hey, you know, we see what’s going on, let’s keep the hope. We’re gonna get out of these constricting situations, and we’re gonna reach that glass ceiling and we’re gonna break it.’ We can all do this. It’s all of us. As exceptional different identities come together and unite as one, as a whole collective, we can break down this glass ceiling that we’re under and fight back.
How does Legacy pay homage to the original cult classic?
I think they did a pretty good job of recreating the moments that were in the original, but in a fun, more modern way. It definitely says, ‘We love the original Craft, we’re not trying to take the original Craft away.’ We’re trying to say that there’s stuff that can be continued, and I feel like this one just says it perfectly by giving the subtle iconic shots and making it into this film. There’s a lot of similarities.
Is it true that you had a witch on set?
Yeah, we did have a witch! We had three witches. They were consulting with Zoe and giving her visual help. Pam Grossman, she was also there and she walked us through a lot of our rituals. Aerin Fogel, she was just always there whenever we had a ritual scene to shoot, and she was there when anything witchy would happen. She was just amazing to work with on set, and I love all of those women so much. They really helped when things got a little weird.
Did you experience any supernatural occurrences?
I personally didn’t experience anything on-set that was spooky. But I did hear about Cailee’s [Spaeny] experience in this one house. What happened is that people started complaining about a very heavy energy on their chest and everyone was like, ‘I feel this type of sadness, energy.’ Cailee went up to Zoe and was like, ‘Hey, do you feel like a very heavy energy like an intensity?’ Zoe was like, ‘I thought it was just me.’ There was apparently someone that was blocking Cailee’s light, but every time they went to go check the lights, no one was standing there. And then Cailee was getting ready for her big scene, so she was hanging out in the attic of that house. She left her phone there and came back upstairs, where she found a picture of this weird purple orb. It’s just so terrifying – ghosts taking pictures. There were ghosts standing in light, and we came to find that 300 people had died in that house and that it was a hospice.
I would’ve been out of there.
I think what’s so cool about the paranormal world is that a lot of the times, we saw this in The Sixth Sense, ghosts appear to get answers and help. I feel like the paranormal world itself is so misunderstood, especially with all of the spooky, scary movies that come out about it. It’s something I can’t wait to see evolve in media, because I think it’s a very understanding place. Before I even joined the cast of The Craft, I was a practicing witch, who was intending on opening her own witch shop. I have always had a very close connection with my character and the witch world.
Did you learn anything from playing Lourdes and being surrounded by witches on set?
I learned a lot from Lovey, she was Mama Witch on and off set, and I would say that I learned that witchcraft is such a feeling and it can be really tasty. There’s a lot of witchcraft where you can eat it, or you can drink it. Lovey was definitely making us a lot of teas and a lot of yummy stuff. So yeah, learned how tasty and feeling witchcraft can be.
I’m getting ahead of myself here, but can we expect a sequel to Legacy?
I really hope so! I think that was so incredible to see. I would love to work with these women again because we’re all really close friends. Even the director, she made such an effort to be the glue that holds the whole movie together. I would hope to see a sequel. If we do see a sequel, I have a lot of theories, because I want to be a writer and a director. I would love to see witchcraft that’s amongst more than four girls and maybe reach the entire world, and really be something that we all bring to normal people.
The Craft: Legacy is now out on digital platforms in the US and in cinemas in the UK on 28 October.