Magic City star Jeffrey Dean Morgan has removed his crooked-hotelier hat to play a divorced father in The Possession, out Friday. The title more than hints at the plot. Morgan’s youngest daughter is taken over by an evil spirit from a haunted (dibbuk) box they bought at a yard sale. That these boxes, infamous in Jewish folklore, actually exist is what makes this film extra creepy. Morgan thinks so, too.
Are you a fan of horror movies in general?
I’m not a ghouly guy, though I’ve seen my fair share. I’ll watch them on pay-per-view when I’m in a hotel room and superbored. I don’t find that gory stuff to be scary. I like the Rosemary’s Baby types and The Shining and The Omen. Those were the first movies that scared the crap out of me. The Possession is a throwback to those good years. The genre has become so muddled with lack of story and weak character development and shaky cameras and loud bulls---. This film relies heavily on the lack of noises. The silence, the pauses. That’s the s--- that makes me sit on the edge of my seat.
The only one was this little girl who was going to play my daughter [ Natasha Calis]. We’re asking a lot from a young actress, an awful lot. It has to be good — no, it has to be great — or this movie doesn’t work. The director [ Ole Bornedal, The Substitute] showed me her audition tape. I watched it like six times and I was like, ‘Oh my God, this girl.’ I remember seeing Dakota Fanning for the first time and thinking the same thing, ‘Where does a kid like this get this life experience?’
How did the cast get along?
All the other cats, Kyra [Sedgwick, as his ex wife], Grant Show [her lover], brought their A-game. We went into this as if it were a psychological thriller with horror elements. We weren’t out to make jump scares. This is stuff based in reality. The core is this family that’s going through what so many families do these days: divorce that isn’t real attractive or healthy for anybody. In the midst of it this box with a demon attached to it comes into our lives.
What was shooting like?
The exorcism scene has got my hair standing up on the back of my neck thinking of it now. It happens to an actor every 20 years. Afterward, the whole crew was silent. Nobody would talk for like an hour. It was crazy. I looked at Kyra and we’d just gone through hell. We were kind of like, ‘What the f--- happened? What was that?!’
Have you ever dealt with anything paranormal?
I always thought of myself as a skeptic. Though I played the daddy of them all, Winchester [in TV’s Supernatural], I’d never had experiences that were tangible. That said, you start diving into this box and weird things started happening on set. Light bulbs suddenly exploding in key moments, cold wind drafts showing up with not even a door open or a fan going.
What’s happening with “Magic City”?
I’m here in Miami for the duration. I can’t wait to shoot season two next week. It feels like I never left. We are picking up full speed. It’s nice to have the first season under your belt, introducing the viewers to 1959 Miami and its array of characters. Finding Ike has taken time; he’s very complex. It’s been a pleasure getting to know him.