One of the most unnerving images from A Cure For Wellness‘ trailers is a shot of a languid young woman, lounging naked in a bathtub as eels slither and wriggle frantically around her. That’s Mia Goth, the intrepid English ingénue who made her film debut in Lars von Trier’s polarizing and provocative drama, Nymphomaniac: Vol. II, and now stars opposite Dane DeHaan and Jason Isaacs in Gore Verbinski’s latest, a dizzying and demented psychological thriller that hopes to do for spas what Jaws did for beaches.
A Cure For Wellness follows Lockhart, a ruthlessly ambitious executive (DeHaan) on a journey to recover his absentee-boss from a strange Swiss Alps-side resort, run by a friendly yet unnerving doctor (Isaacs). Most of the patients of this wellness center are old, very affluent titans of industry. Then there’s Hannah (Goth), a blossoming and ever-barefoot young woman whose sweetness and naiveté captures the heart of Lockhart, and inspires him to unravel the center’s terrible tangle of secrets.
Screen Rant met with Goth to discuss the coming-of-age arc of her ethereal heroine, as well as the strange secrets behind her eerie eel scene, and what exactly Matt Damon and Coca Cola had to do with it. Plus, she shares a bit about Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming Suspiria, which she wouldn’t call a “remake” of Dario Argento’s iconic 1977 horror classic. But what would she call it?
There are a lot of strange solutions used in the film. What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done to improve your health?
MIA GOTH: To improve my health? Good question. I heard that there’s a Kangen Machine and you’re meant to press a button and then it gives you water that is more alkaline than acidic. So I tried that for a little while but I don’t know if it worked or not or if it was just me really hoping. That’s probably the strangest thing I’ve done.
There’s one scene in the movie, that’s all over the trailers, where you’re in a tub full of eels. What was that shoot day like?
MIA GOTH: Pretty bizarre. It was. But funnily enough, it wasn’t actually eels. They did a mold of my body and then I just had to stay in a very awkward position and I couldn’t move or scratch my nose. So I just had a Coca-Cola with a straw and watched Good Will Hunting – no eels, thankfully.
Basically, they just added all that in with CGI, so you’re just watching the scene where he’s like, “It’s not your fault!” You’re just like, “Mmhmm, I’m here. I’m into it.” I love that. The other thing I thought was really interesting about Hannah was, while this movie is very much about Lockhart and him discovering things, for her, it’s a coming of age story. Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like discovering that arc?
MIA GOTH: Well that’s something I actually connected with when reading the script. I found a parallel that she’s forced to take that leap from girlhood to womanhood and I was 21 when I was shooting it. That’s something I’m still dealing with. It’s terrifying for her at times and exhilarating and painful sometimes. I think that’s quite a universal theme for women. There’s a lot of power and responsibility that comes with owning who you are as a woman.
Sure. I was also really fascinated with, she never wears shoes. Why is she always barefoot?
MIA GOTH: It’s just to give the sense of her ethereal nature – is she real, is she not? It was a character choice.
I get that. Watching it I was like, “She’s not wearing shoes.” And it made me very uncomfortable. Lastly I want to ask you, you have Suspiria coming up. We know it’s not a remake. Can you talk about, is it a reimagining or a reboot or a sequel?
MIA GOTH: When I said it’s not a remake, I meant in a sense that we do take it to a very different place. There are definitely nods of the hat to what [director] Dario Argento did with it but Luca [Guadagnino] has such a great mind and he’s so creative, so we do definitely take it to a different place. I guess you could say reimaging, I just don’t know how much I can talk about it just yet. I’m a bit cautious to go there.
Sure, sure. Would you maybe compare it to the Ghostbusters movies, where they’re not canon-wise linked but they’re telling the same story in very different angles?
MIA GOTH: You know what? I’ve never seen the two Ghostbuster movies. I don’t really know what you’re talking about.
That’s fair. Is there any trivia about making the Cure for Wellness you want audiences to know about?
MIA GOTH: Any trivia?
Yeah, anything that happened behind-the-scenes you feel makes the movie extra-special?
MIA GOTH: Well I think that every day there was trivia. Every day was a different adventure. You didn’t know what was in store for you. There were so many moving part. I had a lot of fun shooting it and I think people are going to have a lot of fun watching it.