'The New Mutants' cast talk X-Men spinoff’s long delay, film's groundbreaking gay romance

The New Mutants are finally here.

The long-delayed X-Men spinoff, which changed release dates five times due to the Disney-Fox merger and the coronavirus (but not, for the record, reshoots) is finally opening this week, the first major studio release to enter cineplexes since the pandemic shut down the box office.

“The film’s post-production process was abruptly stopped when the merger happened, so I came out on the other end really happy,” says writer-director Josh Boone, who joined cast members Maisie Williams, Anya Taylor-Joy, Charlie Heaton, Blu Hunt, Henry Zaga and Alice Braga for a recent video chat with Yahoo Entertainment (watch above). The filmmaker admits he was frustrated during what he calls “the dark period, where we never knew anything that was going on because it was all behind the scenes.”

The film, a hybrid horror-thriller/superhero movie about five young mutants who must protect themselves when they’re trapped in a secret government facility against their will, was filmed in the summer of 2017.

The cast commiserated throughout the wait via group text. “A text chain is helpful, number one because you get so much information from the internet that isn’t true,” says Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Glass). “So you end up just sending articles to everybody like, ‘Is this true? Are we shooting [again] in November?’” The movie was plagued by online rumors of reshoots, none of which proved to be accurate.

“It’s a wonderful exercise in learning how to let go, and understanding that things will happen when they’re supposed to happen,” Taylor-Joy says.

Maisie Williams and Blu Hunt in 'The New Mutants' (Disney
Maisie Williams and Blu Hunt in The New Mutants. (Photo: Disney)

Another thing the film has made headlines for is its groundbreaking same-sex relationship — the most prominently featured such romance in a major comic book movie yet — between Dani Moonstar/Mirage (Hunt) and Rahne Sinclaire/Wolfsbane (Williams).

“It’s obviously an extremely important thing, but it also felt like, ‘Well, yeah, it’s about time,’” says Hunt, who makes her film debut. “This could be in any movie, it should be in every movie… I liked it because it wasn’t exploitative of the movement… it’s genuine. It was actually nice to do my first movie not having to have a love scene or a love relationship with a guy. It was kind of fun… All of my scenes were with me and Maisie, me and Anya, and me and Alice. Not that I don’t like the boys or anything.”

“I think it’s rare that you get to see a love story like that [not only] in superhero films, but in action films in general,” says Williams, best known for her work as Arya Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones. “Quite often the relationships are very much one-sided, and it’s all about the central character, and you never get to see anyone else thrive in this relationship. For me it was about my entire arc as Rahne.”

Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) calls the young romance “the emotional spine” of the movie. “But it wasn’t calculated,” he says. “We didn’t sit around being like, ‘It has to be this or it has to be that.’ It did sort of organically spring from the comics.”

The X-Men comics (and subsequent movies) have long been metaphors for underrepresented communities, and New Mutants has not only strong gender balance, but both a diverse and international cast, with the Native American ingenue Hunt, Brazilian actors Braga and Zaga and British performers Williams and Heaton (Stranger Things).

“It has to happen at this day and age,” says Zaga.

“Representation matters,” adds Braga (City of God, Queen of the South).

The New Mutants opens in theaters Friday, Aug. 28; check Fandango for ticket and showtime information.

Watch the trailer:

— Video produced by Jon San

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