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‘MaXXXine’ Star Discusses Mia Goth, Ti West, and His Acting-Music Career Link

Moses Sumney, the star of “MaXXXine,” is excited that his role in the new horror thriller directed by Ti West, is his first major big screen acting credit. Sumney isn’t certain if his involvement in the controversial series “The Idol” contributed to his casting, but he’s glad to be part of West’s new film opposite Mia Goth. Interestingly, Sumney auditioned for “MaXXXine” before “The Idol” even aired.

“With ‘The Idol,’ everyone was talking about it so much that I can only assume my name started floating around in Hollywood. Then I was asked to audition for ‘MaXXXine’ and I said, ‘Okay. That’s crazy. Sure,’” Sumney said during a recent Zoom interview. “It took a few months before Ti told me I got the part and I was really surprised because the other people who auditioned for it are what I would call ‘real actors.’ I was thinking, ‘I’m just this guy who sings songs.’ So when he told me I got the part, I said, ‘Okay. Really? Sure!’”

Although Sumney’s role as Izaak, a follower of Tedros (The Weeknd) in “The Idol,” was his only significant screen credit before landing “MaXXXine,” he’s no stranger to Hollywood. Born in California, Sumney has been a part of the Los Angeles music scene for the past decade. He garnered critical acclaim with his 2017 debut album “Aromanticism.”

His songs have been featured in popular series like “Orange is the New Black” and “Westworld.” One of his tracks, “Quarrel,” appeared in “Dear White People.” Before that, Sumney made inroads in Hollywood, appearing in the 2015 blockbuster “Creed” as a band member, and also collaborated on the film’s soundtrack.

In “MaXXXine,” which hit theaters on Friday, Mia Goth stars as Maxine Minx, a Hollywood porn star and peep show performer who finally lands a major role in the 1985 gothic horror film “The Puritan II.” However, real-life horror unfolds in the streets of LA, with the Night Stalker serial killer on a murder spree. When Maxine’s friends are brutally killed, detectives Williams (Michelle Monaghan) and Torres (Bobby Cannavale) start seeking clues from Maxine, which makes her nervous given her own dark past.

Additionally, a seedy private detective named John Labat, played by Kevin Bacon, begins following Maxine and threatens to expose her bloody history. Sumney stars as Leon, Maxine’s close friend, who runs a video rental store in her building.

Set in the mid-1980s, Leon’s video store stands as a nostalgic cultural landmark, marking the era when VHS tapes revolutionized home entertainment. Although Sumney was born in 1992, he fondly recalls the tail-end of the video store era, which played a significant role in his childhood.

“The ‘80s were a little before my time, but I did catch the last wave of video stores,” Sumney reminisced. “It was a cultural artifact and meant a lot to my childhood. Being able to be in one for ‘MaXXXine’ felt like home. The store was built from scratch for the movie, and it felt warm and homey.”

Sumney felt incredibly fortunate to work with both Ti West and Mia Goth. He admitted that the experience felt surreal, as he has long admired both of them.

“It was definitely crazy because I’ve been well aware of both of them for a long time,” Sumney said. “To have such a large role in this movie and essentially play Mia’s best friend, I had to focus to avoid those ‘pinch-me’ moments. So, I realized, ‘Alright, I’m here for a reason. Let’s play it cool.’”

Summey admired Goth’s depth in her acting, especially during a vulnerable audition scene for “The Puritan II,” where she delivers a heartfelt soliloquy straight into the camera.

“Her ability to tune everything out and go deep down inside is something I really respect and admire,” Sumney said. “Seeing that in real life was a wonder. She’s very committed to her choices and bringing life to her character. It’s really impressive.”

For Sumney, “MaXXXine” was a significant first film experience, allowing him to combine his musical sensibilities with his acting. It also influenced his music career, helping him tap deeper into his emotions.

“They are so symbiotic,” he said of how his music work informs his acting and vice versa. “I found that connecting with my emotions was very easy when I started studying acting and developing this character.”

After filming “MaXXXine,” Sumney returned to the recording studio with new insights.

“The acting informs my music even more than the other way around because you have to tap into your emotions so readily as a singer and a writer,” Sumney explained. “I already know where the emotion is and how deep I want to get into it because I wrote it.”

Sumney found that acting taught him to connect with and express his emotions on command, which has enriched his creative process in music. He said it unlocked a new world of writing and emoting for him.

“In my latest music project, which comes out in a couple of weeks, it was really easy to dive into because not only do I have to connect and emote, but I’ve also learned how to play characters in the music.”

“MaXXXine,” also starring Halsey and Giancarlo Esposito, is now showing in theaters.

Source: Forbes