Note: This interview contains spoilers for The Craft: Legacy, so watch/read at your own risk if you don’t want to have any of the movie’s surprises ruined for you.
Like many self-proclaimed “weirdos” who came of age in the ’90s, Zoe Lister-Jones sees The Craft as more than just a movie about a group of teen girls with magical abilities and incredible fashion sense. For the actor/writer/director, The Craft was a rare opportunity to see young people like herself represented in movies, and a sign that she wasn’t so alone. Twenty-four years later and the multi-hyphenate is the creative force behind The Craft: Legacy, writing and directing the movie that—as many have discovered—is more of a sequel to the original than it is a remake. The A.V. Club had the opportunity to speak with Lister-Jones about what the 1996 film meant to her, and the many ways her film connects back to it. As those who have seen Legacy will know, its final scene links the two in a pretty big way, and Lister-Jones was happy to talk about the process of making that happen, and what it’s taken to keep it such a big secret.
The A.V. Club: It’s clear there’s so much love for The Craft and the world that it created. What did that movie mean to you when you first saw it, and what does it mean to you now?
Zoe Lister-Jones: Well, the movie meant a lot to me then, as it did to so many people, which is why it was real daunting when the opportunity came to reimagine it. You know, I was a weirdo—in the best way—but it didn’t come without pain and suffering [Laughs.] I shaved my head when I was in seventh grade and I wore polyester men’s leisure suits that I would buy at the Salvation Army. I was very masculine presenting, I was misgendered often, and I was really bullied often and… Yeah, I was just in a lot of pain and felt very isolated. When that film came out, it was one of the first mainstream popular culture vehicles where I felt seen, and I felt like the weirdos could actually be the heroes.
So I guess what it means to me now is similar because that little weirdo is still raging inside of me [Laughs.], and she’s still in pain, because we are all just constantly healing our inner wounded child. So I think it has the same meaning to me. Rewatching it, when I was approached to reimagine it, some things hit a little different, which was good inspiration for me, in terms of what I might want to update. And the biggest element that I really did want to [include]—on a macro level—was to create a story where these four young women didn’t use their power against each other, but rather to uplift and uphold each other.
AVC: And what about those polyester men’s leisure suits? Are those still around?
ZLJ: No, but I think I should be [wearing them]? Because they were amazing. They were also hot, you know, because synthetic doesn’t really breathe. But I also was thinking of shaving my head. I mean, you can see Lily (Cailee Spaeny) in the film has a pixie cut, which was definitely a nod to my younger self [Laughs.].
AVC: Speaking of Lily, she directly ties your movie to the 1996 original; as we learn in Legacy’s final scene, she has a very specific connection to Nancy (Fairuza Balk). What can you tell us about the decision to tie the two films together in this way, and what was it like to bring Fairuza into the equation?
ZLJ: Well, from the jump, I wanted to include her. She is everything to me—she is my supreme, and also just such a brilliant actor who I think has been woefully undervalued. So it was always my intention to incorporate her in that way.
So when the process began of actually making the ask, I was, of course, tripping because I’m such a fan girl [Laughs.] I fully freaked out, but she turned out to just be such a lovely and gracious and generous person. And I think [she] really believed in my vision, which was so meaningful to me because it was so important for me to get her blessing on this and [have her agree] to come on the journey with me.
AVC: How does it feel now to no longer have to keep her involvement a secret?
ZLJ: Yeah, it was terrible [Laughs.] I didn’t want anyone to even know—my whole thing was that I wanted this to be marketed as a reboot, and then for people to realize that it’s a sequel in the last moment. Which I think is so dope! But then, you know, marketing—we had to put a little hint of her in the trailer. [Laughs.]
The Craft: Legacy is available now via premium Video On Demand.
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment