In the last several years, a bounty of talented, young actors/actresses have been making their way onto the silver screen in a big way. With the rise of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things and the popularity of the 2017 hit film It, the stand out performances of the adolescent cast has turned many heads. Mature, eloquent, and beaming a poise well beyond their years, two talents to look out for would be Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh. Martell, a key star in the aforementioned It, launched his career back in 2014 starring alongside Bill Murray in St. Vincent.
Then there is McHugh, a theatrical girl who has starred in the Paramount Network American Woman series, a list of features, and set to be a part of Marvel’s forthcoming film Eternals. Both with bright futures, they team up for leading roles in the new Horror Thriller The Lodge. Portraying siblings in this eerie, atmospheric film, the two took the time to talk about their time working together, their beginnings in entertainment, aspirations for the future, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in acting since you were young kids starring in both films and television. Before going any further, tell us what inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
Jaeden Martell – For me, I never knew I wanted to be an actor. I moved to Los Angeles when I was about 8 years old and kind of just fell into it. I started with commercials and eventually I did my first movie when I was 10. Still I didn’t understand what it meant to be an actor, but I kind of fell in love with it when I was put on set and I was able to work with such incredible actors; my first movie I got to work with Bill Murray in New York. That’s when I just realized this is what I want to do with the rest of my life just because you can get better at it with every movie you do. You evolve, and I hope to do that with every film I take part in.
Lia McHugh – I did a lot of dress-up and make believe when I was little. My parents wanted me to do what I love so I did a lot of different activities with art and musical theater. I completely fell in love with it and started auditioning, I absolutely loved auditioning. We moved to LA, got my first couple of jobs, and then I started really getting into it. That is how I started.
Cryptic Rock – Two exciting beginnings! You both take leading roles in the new film The Lodge. How did it come about for you?
Jaeden Martell – Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz approached me with the script. Then I watched Goodnight Mommy (2014) and fell in love with their film-making and directing. Goodnight Mommy was so interesting and it definitely had similar vibes and a similar story. I was just really excited to be a part of something relatively similar to Goodnight Mommy.
Lia McHugh – From the first time I read the script I was so thrilled because I just loved the original idea. I then watched Goodnight Mommy and it gave me even more confidence in the directors. I had a great time filming it on set.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. You two play siblings in The Lodge and do a great job with your roles. The emotions seem very real as you portray brother and sister, so what was it like working together?
Jaeden Martell – We actually did a lot of bonding exercises before filming. Severin, Veronika, Lia and I all went ice skating, rock climbing, and spending a lot of time together. We just got to know each other and created a sibling bond. Then we were kind of separated from Riley Keough so we wouldn’t have any chemistry with her.
Lia McHugh – I had a great time working with Jaeden. From the start we just really clicked and had such a fun time getting to know each other and working together. He is an amazing actor and he really made it easy for me.
Cryptic Rock – You both did a great job with your characters – very believable, and at times, scary. The story of The Lodge is quite interesting and open for the viewer to interpret. What did you take away from the story portraying your roles?
Jaeden Martell – We shot sort of chronological order. It was definitely interesting shooting it and having it unfold as we progressed in the shoot. It is really interesting the way the story is created and how Veronika and Severin subtly changed things without the viewer knowing; it was super slow-burning, creepy, and it added to the tone of the film.
That’s what makes it scary, there are no jump scares, it is not in your face terrifying, but it has this unsettling feeling throughout the film as it unfolds. When the audience realizes what’s happening the creepiness and psychological thriller aspect of the story comes out.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. What also stands out about The Lodge is the location it was filmed. As a viewer you can feel the bitter cold through out, and the cabin with it’s dark wood interior is quite stunning as well. What was it like shooting in those locations?
Lia McHugh – It really helped us as actors in the film because it was all very real and very cold. It was quite isolating at times, we were staying 2 hours outside Montreal and were really put in that sort of situation. We stayed at a creepy hotel, nobody was there, and it literally looked like The Shining (1980).
We still had a lot fun and it helped strengthened our bond because we were literally hanging out with each other the whole time. The cabin we shot in was so amazing. The directors at one point wanted to turn off the heating inside to make it really cold, but they weren’t allowed to do that. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Wow, that certainly would have been very realistic. Without giving away the story too much, your characters tragically lose their mom. Putting yourself in their position, could you see yourself doing similar to Riley Keough’s character based on what was happening in their lives?
Jaeden Martell – Hopefully not, but I think what makes this story interesting is it is reasonable. I don’t know if it’s justifiable, they are obliviously in the wrong, but you do understand why they are doing it, they are dealing with the death of their mother. It’s important you see their reason and emotion behind it, that they are not just evil children. This women was essentially replacing their mother and they don’t like that at all, so they take their anger and grief out on her.
Cryptic Rock – You can feel that emotion for sure. You both have done other films before including various in the Horror genre. Do you enjoy working in Horror and Thriller films?
Lia McHugh – My favorite genre personally is Drama, I feel like it’s my strong suit. Tortem (2017) really stands out for me because it was very dramatic and emotional at times. I really enjoy doing Horror films, I don’t really pick them out specifically, but they just sort of have the aspects I enjoy working in.
Jaeden Martell – I think it’s always about the story, the people attached to the film, and the character. The genre personally doesn’t have an affect on whether I want to do a movie. So no, there is nothing about Horror that attracts me, but these stories in particular that I’ve done that are Horror have interested me.
Cryptic Rock – Interesting. Well you have both done some very compelling films. As mentioned, you both started very young and done some big projects including It (2017), Knives Out (2019), and the American Woman series. One can imagine you have strong family support systems, but is is a challenge being thrust into the limelight at such a young age?
Jaeden Martell – Yea, it’s all about family and having friends you love that keeps you normal in a way. It’s all about staying humble, being in the moment, and appreciating that you are able to do what you love and what so many people want to do. I love acting so much, so it’s more about working with people versus being in the limelight like you said.
Lia McHugh – Sometimes it is a little overwhelming, but you have to find the joy in every moment working with all these amazing people on these incredible films. I realize how lucky I am to have all these opportunities. I tell myself to be in the moment, appreciate every moment, and stay humble.
Cryptic Rock – You both seem to have a very good outlook, so keep it up. Last question. Do you have any favorite Horror films?
Jaeden Martell – I feel like I’ve always been behind in the Horror genre because I was always too scared. Now I’m starting to get into them. Hereditary (2018) was one of my favorite new Horror films. The Shining is another good one and is a classic.
Lia McHugh – I feel like I haven’t watched a good amount of Horror movies too, but one that I really loved was Us (2019), it really scared me.