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Thursday, February 23, 2023

‘We Have a Ghost’ Stars Jahi Winston and Anthony Mackie Discuss Family Bonds and Horror Scares [Interview]

Happy Death Day and Freaky director Christopher Landon’s Amblin-style family adventure We Have a Ghost offers paranormal thrills to balance the heart.

That heart comes via its central protagonist, Kevin Presley (Jahi Winston), a musically inclined teen at odds with his dad, Frank (Anthony Mackie). Kevin’s disillusioned with the family’s latest fresh start, including the fixer-upper Frank bought. The teen is the first to discover that their new home doesn’t just look haunted; it is haunted. Finding a ghost named Ernest (David Harbour) transforms the Presleys as their encounters turn viral on social media, sparking a wild adventure.

Ahead of the film’s release on Netflix on February 24, Bloody Disgusting spoke with Winston and Mackie about their roles and the challenges, revealing their opposing opinions on horror.

First up, Mackie explains how he connected with Frank, a dad at odds with his youngest son, and how he fostered that family bond on set.

“Well, for me, in real life, I’m the father of a teenager,” Mackie tells us. “So, it’s that idea of learning how to communicate; the communication difference between a child and a young adult, because I realize now, in five years, my little boy is going to be an adult. So how do you communicate differently from him? I can’t pick him up and hug him and kiss him anymore, so I have to treat him like he’s a little human being and he makes decisions.

“When reading the script, I thought Chris [Landon] dealt with that in a brilliant way. As frustrating as it can be as a father and all the intentions and wants and desires you have for your baby, your baby now is a young man. You have to treat him with respect and the way he desires to be treated and give him his space.”

We Have A Ghost. (L to R) Anthony Mackie as Frank, Erica Ash as Melanie, Niles Fitch as Fulton, Jahi Winston as Kevin in We Have A Ghost. Cr. Scott Saltzman/Netflix © 2022.

Winston’s lead role required him to spend the most time opposite Harbour’s Ernest, a character that required a lot of setups to achieve the ghost effect. 

When asked whether that added challenges for him, Winston answered, “Not as challenging as you would think because I had David there, who is obviously an incredible actor to work with. He doesn’t talk as much, but he wasn’t any less committed to giving it 100%. So that was great. Then I had other incredible actors to go off of, which was so interesting. During the first month of shooting, we did most of the family stuff, so it just felt like we were shooting a family sitcom-type joint for the first month. Then it was like, ‘oh yeah, this is a ghost movie.’ You remember what it really is. But it was great. Chris was amazing to work with, and I think it probably would have been a lot more difficult had I not had such an awesome director because the days were long, and we were shooting in New Orleans. It was really hot. Very, very hot. And it was that wet heat. It’d be different if it were dry, but it was that just scorching business. It was intense. But we got through it, and it was great. The love and the camaraderie between us and everyone else shine through when you watch the movie.”

While working with a ghost might not have been as challenging as expected, there was one exception. An intricate car chase sequence that involved multiple vehicles and a ghost’s ability to move through physical objects.

Winston breaks it down, “Now, there was a challenge. That was it. Because that was the sequence that never died. We actually shot most of that on location, and that was an intense week because, well, for one, it felt like we were shooting the same thing over and over and over again. There were times when I would look at David, and I was like, ‘Didn’t we just shoot this?’ Then the AD would come over and say, ‘No, that was the first part. We’re doing the part where da, da, da, da, da.’ I was like, ‘Oh, okay, so we’re still here, still in this car.’ Just hours at a time in this hot, hot car, can’t have the air conditioning on during the take, messes with the audio, and is so intense. Between takes, they would have to come with the fans and just with the water and everything, which was a lot. It was fun, but it was like, ‘Geez. Chris, I’m begging you.’ Nah, it was cool.”

We Have A Ghost. (L to R) Erica Ash as Melanie, David Harbour as Ernest in We Have A Ghost. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022.

The Presleys set the film’s events in motion when Mackie’s character Frank argues with his wife, Melanie (Erica Ash), over how to handle living with a ghost. Asking Mackie whether he was more like Frank or Melanie in this scenario led to surprising reveals of horror tolerance levels.

“Well, Erica Ash is a longtime friend of mine and one of the best movie wives in the history of movie wives, and she held us together in a way that only a mom can,” Mackie prefaced his answer. “But she would lose that battle, and she would either come with me or be there as the ghost wife and enjoy the rest of her life with him because I would be out as far as possible. I am an easily scared person when it comes to horror movies. I was doing a play in DC at the Kennedy Center, and I walked past this staircase and fell to my knees. My friend was like, ‘What’s wrong? I said, ‘That’s the staircase from Exorcist. That’s the staircase. That’s the staircase.’ Literally, I looked up at the staircase, and my knees buckled. All these movies, the cynicism, the who died first, the killer, all those movies, nah, can’t do it. Nope. Michael Myers? Nope. Jason Voorhees? Nope, nope. Can’t do it.

“I love them,” Winston notes.

“Oh, you out of your mind,” Mackie retorts, then playfully elaborates further, “I was on the airplane; I was watching Sinister Part 5. I don’t know why I watched it. I put the headphones on, and 20 minutes into the movie, the flight attendant comes over and says, ‘You’re screaming. Turn the movie off.'”

An amused Winston doesn’t hesitate to answer whether he’s braver than his costar. He deadpans, “Clearly. Clearly, I love horror. I’ve always been super into macabre, weird things. So I love it all. But my parents are two ministers, so I could not be too into it. And at some point, they would go get the Bible and come and bind me. You know what I’m saying? If I got too crazy.

“But I’m a horror fanatic. I love horror.”

The post ‘We Have a Ghost’ Stars Jahi Winston and Anthony Mackie Discuss Family Bonds and Horror Scares [Interview] appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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