A Monster Calls
Stories are the wildest things of all. — The Monster
Directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible, The Orphanage), A Monster Calls is a visually spectacular and stunningly emotional drama based on the award-winning novel. The screenplay adaptation is by the book’s author, Patrick Ness. Mr. Ness wrote the novel from an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd.
12-year-old Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is about to escape into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales. He is dealing with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) illness, which has necessitated Conor’s spending time with his less-than-sympathetic grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). His daily existence at his U.K. school is one of academic disinterest and bullying by classmates. As Conor’s father (Toby Kebbell) has resettled thousands of miles away in the U.S., the boy yearns for guidance.
He unexpectedly summons a most unlikely ally, who bursts forth with terrifying grandeur from an ancient towering yew tree and the powerful earth below it: a 40-foot-high colossus of a creature (portrayed in performance-capture and voiceover by Liam Neeson) who appears at Conor’s bedroom window @12:07 one night – and at that time on nights thereafter. The Monster has stories to tell, and he insists that Conor hear them and powerfully visualize them. Conor’s fear gives way to feistiness and then to looking within; for, The Monster demands that once the tales are told it will be time for Conor to tell his own story in return. Ancient, wild, and relentless, the Monster guides Conor on a journey of courage, faith, and truth.
A Focus Features presentation in association with Participant Media/River Road Entertainment of an Apaches Entertainment/Telecinco Cinema/A Monster Calls, AIE/La Trini production. Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson. A Monster Calls. Make-up and Hair Designer, Marese Langan. Costume Designer, Steven Noble. Sound Designer, Oriol Tarragó. Casting, Shaheen Baig. Music, Fernando Velázquez. Editors, Bernat Vilaplana, Jaume Martí. Production Designer, Eugenio Caballero. Director of Photography, Óscar Faura. Co-Producer, Sandra Hermida. Executive Producers, Patrick Ness, Jeff Skoll, Bill Pohlad, Jonathan King, Mitch Horwits, Patrick Wachsberger, Enrique López Lavigne, Ghislain Barrois, Álvaro Augustin. Produced by Belén Atienza. Based upon the novel written by Patrick Ness from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Screenplay by Patrick Ness. Directed by J.A. Bayona. A Focus Features Release.
A Monster Calls
About the Production
A Monster Calls began with the book A Monster Calls, first published in 2011.
Sergio Sánchez, a voracious reader, and also the screenwriter of The Orphanage and The Impossible, was so entranced by the novel that he gave it to those award-winning films’ director, his friend J.A. Bayona.
Upon reading the book, Bayona recognized at once “themes I’d touched on in The Orphanage and The Impossible: characters finding themselves in a very intense situation, with death on the horizon.
“I saw this as a powerful and important story to tell as a movie – an adventure that anyone can relate to.”
Millions of readers agree. The novel, written by Patrick Ness, based on an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, has been published in almost 40 languages. A Monster Calls won many prestigious prizes worldwide, including the distinguished Carnegie Medal and, for illustrator Jim Kay, the Kate Greenaway Medal. Bayona marvels, “It became beloved, and iconic – and I wanted to do it justice.”
Belén Atienza, Bayona’s producer on his earlier movies and an executive producer on the multi-Oscar-winning Pan’s Labyrinth, took to the book as well. “Belén and I both felt passionate about it,” states the director, adding that he “knew it would be an even bigger challenge than The Impossible.”
Atienza muses, “Like all good books that deal with a big subject, in the end you find that it’s truly been speaking to you about a lot of different things. One of the key themes is how we process grief and the loss of loved ones. That’s what strikes you in a very direct way when you first read the book, but reading it again you can realize the author is exploring how fantasy is part of us as human beings – and the power it can give us to help deal with life.
“Once you start to read it and to hear Conor’s voice, the effect is so compelling. The beautiful, delicate jewel of a story stayed with me for months.”
The story had originated with another author, Siobhan Dowd. She succumbed to cancer soon after starting it. Ness reflects, “Siobhan wrote magnificent books, ones that teenagers deeply responded to; A Monster Calls was to have been her fifth. She had an opening; 1,000 words; an idea for a structure; and a few characters.”
Initially hesitant when approached by the late author’s editor and asked to adopt the idea, Ness eventually took on the responsibility. His attachment to the story only grew, and he wanted to ensure that the conversations it encouraged would continue. As such, he wrote a very faithful screenplay adaptation. He explains, “To me, this is a story about fear of loss. I was really trying above all things to find the truth of how Conor felt; to not lie about it, not sugarcoat it, not sentimentalize it…to really feel how it hurts, because it surely does.”
The producer and director sensed that the story could work as a film – without ever losing the emotional core. Atienza notes, “Bayona is someone who listens to his emotions. He found a lot of himself in this kid, how Conor accesses fantasy in this difficult point in his life.
“Since, in his films, Bayona likes to speak to audiences through a combination of different genres, this was perfect material for him. He began to see how he might interpret the novel, bringing it ‘round to his own territory.”
The director notes, “I was also inspired to think about why it is we tell stories, and I began to read up on works of mythology from experts such as Joseph Campbell.”
After finishing The Impossible, a film which went on to move audiences around the world, Bayona received the A Monster Calls screenplay from his agent. Spain’s Telecinco Cinema, which had backed Bayona’s earlier films, stepped forward to finance the development and the director knew it would be his next project. Atienza states, “With the unconditional support of these dear partners, we were able to prepare the movie properly.” Joined by Spain’s La Trini, and by the prestigious U.S.-based production companies Participant Media and River Road Entertainment, the story was finally headed for the big screen.
“Bayona and I felt that River Road and Participant understood our creative goals, and this story, from the very beginning,” remarks Atienza. “They realized that we wanted the movie to be a meaningful experience, something you think about afterwards, for a wide audience.”
Bayona and Ness began meeting in Barcelona. “Bayona spoke of how A Monster Calls could for him complete a trilogy about mothers and sons,” remembers the author. “I could see that he was the ideal storyteller for this tale. One thing I like about him, which is probably the most important thing in all of my own writing, is that he takes the feelings of a child seriously. He sees the child as a human being, not as a human being in waiting but as someone who truly lives and experiences and feels pain, joy, fear, trust issues, and happiness.”
The two took time to work out details of taking the book from page to screen. “We didn’t want to make a melodrama,” states Bayona. “Everything had to be integrated: Conor’s diverging relationships with his mother and his grandmother, and the fantastical element of the story. I realized that the 40-foot-high Monster would need to be depicted by integrating 2D and 3D animation.
“One other thing that unlocked it for me was the idea that Conor loves to draw; it connected everything else. This was also a bond to me personally, as I was obsessed with drawing when I was a boy.”
Bayona feels that “the book speaks about death in a direct and darker way. For the film, I wanted to transcend what we know is coming – the death of Conor’s mother – and be able to fuse the boy’s need to draw with the strength of legacy. There is light at the end of the story, resulting from the idea that art heals. Patrick’s screenplay has added themes while still being faithful to the novel; in making the movie, there are some elements of the book that we have taken further.”
As usual for the director, prep work encompassed everything from concept art to casting calls for children. To take the journey of making A Monster Calls, he invited core creative collaborators along, “the people who have been critical to the stories I’ve told – some dating back to film school.”
Atienza adds, “Óscar Faura, our director of photography; our editors Bernat Vilaplana and Jaume Martí; Fernando Velázquez, the composer – this powerful team of ours can meet any technical challenges while also keeping their artists’ souls and a sensitivity to the intimacy of the stories that Bayona tells.”
The creative team on A Monster Calls also includes production designer Eugenio Caballero, an Academy Award winner for Pan’s Labyrinth who previously collaborated with Bayona on The Impossible; and costume designer Steven Noble, who previously collaborated with actress Felicity Jones on her Oscar-nominated performance in The Theory of Everything. Bayona marvels, “I had the finest resources in the form of these collaborators.”
At every phase of pre-production, production, and post-production, Bayona sees Atienza as “my shadow. She is a constant support, not only in the organization of the shoot, but creatively as well. Belén is key to my process.
“We have tried to bring this novel to the screen in the best and most faithful way possible while at the same time infusing it with our personal vision.”
As the project moved forward, it proved difficult to find the right young actor to portray Conor. Atienza notes, “Conor is in practically every scene of the movie. So we ended up looking at close to 1,000 boys.”
Ness was “worried about how we would ever find somebody who could carry the entire emotional weight of the film, who could take the entire journey of the story.”
Late in the casting process, Lewis MacDougall was brought to the production’s attention; he had only just finished filming his first movie, Pan. Ness was shown MacDougall’s audition video and saw that “he was such a find, so true and so focused. You could read everything on that face.”
Bayona agreed, noting that “in the end there were a couple of very good candidates to play Conor, but we could see that Lewis was able to convey internal conflict. This was important because Conor struggles with a conflict that he is not able to externalize. All told, Lewis did an extraordinary audition.”
Atienza confirms, “His first video was magnetic. He has a lot inside, and he’s able to bring it out when he needs to. You see so much in his eyes. His way of reacting in scenes is always unexpected. We felt an almost immediate connection with Lewis.” After a screen test in Barcelona, the role was his.
The project began to attract an impressive adult cast to support the young actor. “Once I read the script, they had me,” says Toby Kebbell, who signed on as Conor’s father. “I had a very emotional response to it. I was thinking about it for days after; even when we’re lucky enough to have parents, we all have things we didn’t understand about growing up.”
Academy Award nominated-actress Sigourney Weaver was sought for the role of Conor’s maternal grandmother. “I’m a huge admirer of Bayona’s earlier films; I found them so powerful,” she reveals. “I read Patrick’s script and found it to be a haunting and moving story. I felt at once that I would be in good hands with this director who could find the balance between the reality of the situation and the fantasy world that Conor escapes into.
“In both the book and the script, there is a great deal of respect for children; what they experience, what they feel, what they fear. The story doesn’t pull its punches, but it is also filled with love.”
Weaver had a clear idea of how to approach her character, and “A Monster Calls marks my first grandmother role,” she muses. “In the book and in the script, Conor says she doesn’t really look like a grandmother, so that was a wonderful place for me to start!
“The grandmother in the book is rather scary. I liked the challenge of playing someone who isn’t so sympathetic, trying to find the humanity. But at the same time, her point of view is relevant. Conor doesn’t really like how different she is from his mother, with all her rules. She is very controlling; being a mother myself, I’ve been accused of this, so I’m on the grandmother’s side and I feel the grandmother is completely right all the time…”
Perhaps most significantly, Weaver took note of how “the situation takes a toll on my character. What this story shows is how it feels to be losing a member of the family – in her case, her only child – to an illness. Ultimately, her and Conor’s relationship grows during the course of the film.”
Atienza comments, “Having never before played a role like this, Sigourney Weaver brings to our story what the character of the grandmother needed: physical power and inner strength, strictness as well as tenderness.”
Also crucial to the family dynamic was finding the right actress to portray Weaver’s character’s daughter, who is MacDougall’s character’s mother. When Bayona saw Felicity Jones in her breakout role in Like Crazy – as her Academy Award-nominated portrayal in The Theory of Everything had not yet been screened – he knew he had found the actress to play the role. “I could see in Felicity’s screen presence and her acting skills the light that she would bring into this character,” he notes.
Atienza clarifies, “Conor’s mom had him when she was 18, and gave up her dreams of becoming an artist. So this mother and son are close in age and therefore have a special connection, a bond of friendship. Our casting Felicity puts that front and center right away.”
Jones took her character to heart. She states, “Lizzie is a vibrant, active woman who has never stopped loving art. In her home, there are arts and crafts that reveal her creative spirit. She has loved being a mother to Conor, although she’s a little unconventional.
“The fact that she’s a single parent – because the relationship with Conor’s father has ended – makes the story more powerful because she has formed such an incredible bond with her only child. What’s so difficult for Lizzie and Conor is admitting to each other that she is going to die.”
With the grandmother taking more of an active role in her daughter and grandson’s life, Jones reached out to Weaver for extra insight into their characters’ dynamic. She offers, “Sigourney and I were very keen to find the nuance in the daughter/mother relationship. In many ways, Lizzie is a bit of a rebel. She had Conor when she was young. She’s impulsive, and that has sometimes been difficult for her mother. There’s a tiny bit of friction between them.
“So what Lizzie wants for Conor is for him to live independently once she is gone; she says to him, ‘Don’t be defined by anyone else.’ She hopes that he will be free, because in many ways Lizzie herself has not been. She’s never quite been able to find her freedom independently from her mother, so she wants that for her son more than anything; there is enormous love between this mother and daughter, but like any family relationship it has been complicated.”
Weaver reveals, “We had rehearsals before we started, and we were able to root around in the scenes and with the relationships. From the very beginning, Felicity and I trusted each other so much that we could play out a huge fight and bring as much reality to it as possible. This mother/daughter relationship is highly emotional, and Felicity brings so much to these scenes.”
“You can trust yourself with Felicity, performance-wise,” agrees Kebbell. “She is working as hard as you are to make sure that the scenes between you are authentic.”
Weaver adds, “Each of us, with our own processes, tried to put our all into each of the family scenes. We researched details of the illness and the gradual decline of the body. Research is sort of like a suitcase; you keep putting things in it. I know it helped me very much.
“It was very important to all of us to get it right, to tell this story truthfully and with love and respect, especially for those who will see the movie and who have been through this experience with loved ones.”
To better portray the family member with the illness, Jones opted to “visit oncologists because I wanted to get the medical perspective, to know exactly which medications someone would be taking and just how people try and fight the disease.
“What was incredible was speaking to people who are going through chemotherapy. I met women who were very frank about their experiences and who would take me through the daily rituals of how you cope with something like this. After I had absorbed everything I could, I coordinated efforts with our movie’s incredible crew to chart Lizzie’s decline.”
Bald caps and prosthetics make-up were applied to dramatize the physical effects of the illness taking hold. Working anew with Noble, Jones mapped out how the clothes Lizzie wore might not fit any more because of weight loss – and the actress decided to “lose weight to show how the cancer was affecting the body. I wanted to convey how her breathing changes, and for us to see her body gradually getting weaker and altering. In reading the script, I identified four specific changes in her physicality, and it became all about trying to show those shifts as subtly and as truthfully as possible.”
In one poignant scene, mother and son curl up together to watch the 1933 King Kong. The latter classic provided the A Monster Calls filmmakers with a touchstone for how to approach their Monster. For, as Atienza notes, “It would have been much easier – and, these days, expected – to get that completely computer-generated. We got a fine CG team together, but our feeling is that moviegoers are getting a bit tired of purely CG effects. It feels that much more powerful when you have tangible physicality; that adds warmth and soul to an intimidating creature.”
So it was that a practical version of the Monster was built. Bayona comments, “This was another way we allied ourselves with King Kong; the giant paw that grabs Conor out of his bedroom, the massive foot he touches, the huge head outside his window – they are all real, including handcrafting work.
“There is nothing that can’t be done now in visual effects, so I believe it engages audiences more when you go back to how things were done in the first generations of moviemaking. It means more and better interaction for the actors, too.”
The animatronic on-set Monster and his moving parts were tasked for special make-up effects creations by Pan’s Labyrinth Academy Award winners Montse Ribé and David Martí with their company DDT. The duo mapped everything out in conjunction with Bayona and Caballero, their fellow Pan’s Labyrinth Oscar winner.
Over a three-month period, over 30 artists and four hydraulics specialists created head and shoulders, arms and hands, and feet. Martí reveals, “There are hydraulics in the neck so that the head could move –and be operated by one person from behind, using a kind of steering wheel. First the head was sculpted and then we made a mold, copied it and painted it. The head, shoulders, foot, arms, and branches are basically all foam. We had to carve, burn, shape, paint, and provide texture to make all the parts of the Monster look tree-like. The challenge we set for ourselves was, make it look real but with very basic materials.”
Bayona elaborates, “We did about 200 drawings of the Monster. The more we had something that looked like fantasy, the less interesting it was for me. Ultimately, we returned to something close to Jim Kay’s iconic drawings in the book.”
Atienza adds, “Those drawings by Jim not only inspired the design of the Monster but also encouraged us to personally involve him in the development process, doing some of the preliminary drawings and concept art for the film.”
Several visual effects houses created the digital components of the Monster. Post-production was allocated for a period covering over a year, as “defining him digitally was complicated,” says visual effects supervisor Félix Bergés of the firm El Ranchito, who with special effects supervisor Pau Costa won a Visual Effects Society (VES) Award – honoring Supporting visual effects – for The Impossible. “He had to have the rigidity and the weight of wood, and move convincingly. We ended up mapping, composing, and filming 100 shots of him, interacting with the boy – and it was very challenging!”
Ness reveals, “The Monster harks back to an English legend called ‘The Green Man.’ He’s sort of the landscape personified, rising up to tell stories. He comes from, and is, a great big, powerful force.”
“The Monster also represents that part of your personality which you haven’t yet come to terms with,” adds Bayona.
As an actor utterly distinct in personality, voice, and stature, Liam Neeson was everyone’s first choice to portray the Monster, in both voiceover and performance-capture. The Academy Award-nominated actor was drawn to the story immediately, seeing it as “a fable about the complexity of our emotions, and navigating that complexity as we grow up.”
To provide geographical and environmental context for both the Monster and Conor’s family, the filmmakers took as a signpost a description in the second tale the Monster tells: One hundred and fifty years ago this country had become a place of industry. Factories grew up on the landscape like weeds…
So it was that unit production manager Margarita Huguet came to comb the north of England, once the engine of the industrial revolution. She looked for key dramatic locations, including the hill where the yew tree would stand near an ancient church and cemetery.
Atienza recalls, “Some of the pictures Huguet sent us were from the countryside close to Manchester –absolutely beautiful, with green fields and windy landscapes, cottages and their stone facades, and at the same time echoes of an industrial era in the forms of abandoned factories, huge chimneys, and red brick buildings. We thought this region was very beautiful, and just right for the story and the family’s history.”
The geography of A Monster Calls would span several filming locations, including small towns near Manchester and near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. The filmmakers found their hilltop at Rivington Pike, near Bolton, Lancashire. The art department, with local help, built and positioned a yew tree to seem as if it had stood for centuries.
A church and cemetery were found together near Delph, also in Lancashire. The patch of land had not been updated or modernized in decades, as there was not a single contemporary gravestone. As the real-life location could only sustain so much activity and visitors, Caballero and Costa supervised a recreation of it as a set on a soundstage in Spain.
In fact, the graveyard’s presence in Conor’s recurring nightmare necessitated a raised set, built on a platform high above the ground and operated by a hydraulic system. Costa’s unit had to rig headstones to fall over, and parts of the earth to break apart and cave in. Replicas of both church and cemetery were built above and beyond the actual ones’ scales.
Caballero notes, “Those replicas had to be precise, yet data was coming from a computer-generated model. That was one more example of how this project called for a combination of high-end cutting-edge technology alongside very traditional special effects. Our crew rolled up their sleeves to deploy building techniques rarely used now, with molds and plaster, that gave character to the sets.”
Atienza praises the finished quality of the setting for the nightmare sequences. She reveals, “Half of it was shot in the real location, on the top of the hill and in the churchyard; the other half was done at the studio in Barcelona. It all looks of a piece, and is seamless.”
The production designer stayed in and around Manchester for as long as he could; he was struck at how the mills, red bricks, and Victorian architecture reminded him of the fairy tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham or Edmund Dulac, which he already had in mind while mapping out the fantasy elements of A Monster Calls. This is because, he reveals, “All of the seeds of the fantasy are planted in Conor’s reality. If you look deeply, you will find the shared elements; there are always links between his two worlds. One of this story’s core ideas is how fantasy is created out of necessity – and especially out of a need for hope.
“For me, the spaces themselves have to reflect what is happening to the characters and in the story at that moment. Of the two homes in the family, Conor’s mother’s house is messy and inviting; the palette is colorful, joyful. The grandmother’s house is more severe, and everything is in very strict order. Every item has its position, and that frustrates this boy who is used to living in a house where there is freedom.”
Set decorator Pilar Revuelta, who also won an Oscar for Pan’s Labyrinth, knew exactly how to make Conor feel even more ill at ease at his grandmother’s home. Caballero elaborates, “Pilar and our teams used dull colors in that house and made its interior sets a little bigger than normal, to make him look smaller. A lot of straight lines and angles were layered in, which creates a certain hostility towards – and in – him.
“For his own home, we did the exact opposite; everything is rounded so that you feel the house is embracing him.” The stone exterior of Conor’s home, with its overgrown backyard where he sits with the Monster, was created on a parking lot at the Spain studios. The greens team erased any trace of autos residue, planting tall grass brought over from England for the full overgrown effect. A wooden shed and furniture were built, then weathered and aged accordingly.
Being from England herself, Jones praises the sets as being “so right. I was overawed; there was not a single item or dressing or doorway that didn’t look entirely English. All the little nuances were there, reflecting how Lizzie does not live materialistically.
“It would be a bit strange when we would arrive at the studio amidst beautiful, clear blue Barcelona skies –and then step onto a soundstage and be mired in a dreary day in the north of England!”
Another surprise for the actors, if not for the returning crew, was how much the director likes to move the camera, which meant that sets had to be designed to be as versatile and as flexible as possible. “Bayona wants to tell the story with a camera,” says Atienza. “He has the ability to create emotion with the camerawork. The movement and framing are so important; for him, the camera is speaking all the time – in the language of film.”
To give Bayona the freedom to use the camera on a crane, walls of sets were folded on rails or opened like doors. This allowed the camera to see whatever and wherever it could, and allowed Caballero and Revuelta’s unit to fill Conor’s room with interesting objects until it was nearly bursting at the seams.
Such adaptability meant the sets could be lit with a richness that would not have been possible in natural interiors. In pre-production, director of photography Óscar Faura planned out a lighting design for all the sets so that they were always rigged and ready to go, enabling he and Bayona to move the camera from one to another at any time.
Bayona remarks, “We did do a huge amount of preparation, which was absolutely essential on a film as technically complicated as this one was. It was fascinating to see the lighting on the interior sets, where the very particular kind of light that you get in Manchester was recaptured and recreated. Even those looking carefully will not be able to differentiate between what was filmed indoors near Barcelona and what was filmed in Manchester.”
The director reflects, “On A Monster Calls, what I discussed most with Óscar was how this story should be very much anchored in reality. From the first days of filming, Óscar would find exactly the right atmosphere, the right level of darkness or light for each sequence. We’ve made three movies together now, and I still don’t know how he does it. He has the instincts of the old-school cinematographers who created great cinema.
“I think we work together so well because I’m the kind of director who is always looking for the accident, something unexpected that comes out of improvisation – and Óscar is just the opposite; he likes to have everything really locked down. So he keeps my feet closer to the ground while I encourage him to be more daring and to take more risks. I’m proud of what we have achieved on A Monster Calls; visually, this is the most beautiful of the films we have made together.”
Atienza muses that “the connection among Bayona, Caballero, and Faura has only grown stronger since The Impossible. Each one makes the other better as together they create something wonderful.”
Caballero notes, “I feel a lot of freedom working with Bayona, because we trust each other. The important thing is always, ‘What do we want to convey, what do we want to make people feel?’ We seek to achieve an emotional response. Bayona has this ability to bring emotions onto the screen. It is a gift.”
As A Monster Calls is a deeply felt story, J. A. Bayona applied any number of techniques to make sure that his actors remained in touch with their characters’ emotions. On most days, indelible movie music could be heard on the set in order to evoke a mood; Ennio Morricone and Jerry Goldsmith scores were among the director’s favorites on this shoot. He allowed the camera to keep rolling through multiple takes, without the interruption of a clapperboard or shouts of “Action!” or “Cut!”
Felicity Jones says, “Having someone shout ‘Action!’ just as you are about to do a crying scene doesn’t always put you in the best frame of mind. That’s only one way in which Bayona makes it possible for you to find the emotional depth of the scene and your character.
“You’re not thinking, ‘Where’s the camera?’ You’re not thinking outside of yourself; you become more and more inside the character, which is what he is trying to achieve with you. It’s a very special experience, working with him.”
“As a director, he engaged me a great deal,” says Toby Kebbell. “I felt the human connection with him, and with the other actors.”
“Bayona is a real cinema talent,” states Liam Neeson. “Occasionally you get to work with directors who are steeped in the love of what they do, and Bayona is one of those. He eats, sleeps, and drinks movies. He’s a walking film encyclopedia. He’s a bit like Martin Scorsese in that way.
“He’s also very sensitive. He takes care of, guides, and nurtures his actors and that’s what I always hope a director will do. He allows you to experiment, so you both can get at the truth of what a scene is – and he will try for as long as it takes. I love working with a director like that.”
As part of Bayona’s approach, Neeson worked alongside Lewis MacDougall so that both actors could share ownership of their scenes together. Neeson reflects, “I’ve worked with children who’ve been swamped by the industry, and they’ve lost a kind of childlike innocence. Lewis has all that intact. He’s still a real kid – but also a powerful young actor.”
The young actor – who was 12 years old, the age of his character, at the time of filming – faced a wide range of performance challenges on A Monster Calls, including having an acting partner working in performance-capture. MacDougall offers, “That was quite difficult because of how technical it was. I would be standing at one end of the room and Liam would be standing at the other end. On-screen it is made to look as if I were standing right in front of him.
“But he was right there for me in every scene we could have together.”
However, for the even more ambitious outdoors sequences, MacDougall more often had to perform opposite an animatronic puppet incarnation of the Monster – and sometimes opposite no more than a marker. The nightmare sequences necessitated his wearing a harness and abseiling ropes and being protected by a stunt team – during several days of filming in cold and wet conditions.
“I have so much admiration for Lewis, working long hours and being in basically every scene,” praises Sigourney Weaver. “First of all, he’s so talented. He’s also a trouper, and a professional. The role of Conor is a very demanding one, physically and emotionally. Lewis was so courageous, so present, so truthful.
“I’ve really learned a lot about acting from Lewis, because he’s very much in the moment.”
“Lewis was already hugely talented when we started to shoot with him,” says Belén Atienza. “He had very good instincts, and he learned throughout the process to get where he needed to be in a more direct way. We’ve seen him grow in front of our eyes, in every respect.”
Bayona states, “Lewis was the perfect actor to play Conor. He has a wonderful vulnerability and at the same time a great strength that goes beyond his years, and a lot of that is echoed in the character. He can be compared to an adult actor because he has an amazing ability to prepare himself for a scene.
“In the hospital scene with Felicity, he did a couple of takes where he was caught between wanting to be strong for his mother and feeling grief for himself. Watching him act out that scene was absolutely breathtaking. He is in this incredible struggle, and you can see all the emotion across his face.”
MacDougall says, “What was great about working with Bayona is how he would always push me to do better, and then at the end of every scene he’d always giving me a hug and say ‘Thank you.’’”
The director chose not to give his young lead the script page for the very last scene in A Monster Calls, so that MacDougall would be able to convey the most natural, authentic response as the events unfolded. “And that’s just what Lewis gifted us with,” says Bayona.
A Monster Calls
About the Cast
SIGOURNEY WEAVER (Grandma)
Academy Award-nominated and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Sigourney Weaver has created a host of memorable characters, both dramatic and comedic, captivating audiences and winning acclaim as one of the most esteemed actresses of both stage and screen.
Her first feature starring role was in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster Alien. She would reprise her iconic role of Warrant Officer Ripley in James Cameron’s Aliens, earning Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress. She later played Ripley in David Fincher’s Alien3 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection, both of which she co-produced.
In 1989, Ms. Weaver received an Academy Award nomination, and won the Golden Globe Award, for Best Actress for her performance in Michael Apted’s Gorillas in the Mist, as pioneering scientist Dian Fossey, That same year, she also received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations for her performance in Mike Nichols’ Working Girl. In 1998, she won a BAFTA Award and was a Golden Globe Award nominee for her performance in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm. In 2000, she was again Golden Globe Award-nominated, for A Map of the World, directed by Scott Elliott and based on Jane Hamilton’s novel.
Ms. Weaver’s many other films include Ivan Reitman’s Dave, and the smash Ghostbusters and its sequel; Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden; Jon Amiel’s Copycat; Peter Yates’ Eyewitness; 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Exodus: Gods and Kings, both reteaming her with Ridley Scott; Douglas McGrath’s Infamous; in voiceover, Andrew Stanton’s Academy Award-winning WALL-E; and Dean Parisot’s fan favorite Galaxy Quest. She reunited with James Cameron for the groundbreaking Avatar, which went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time, and will begin production on Avatar 2 in 2017.
In television, she was both Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG)-nominated for Showtime’s Snow White: A Tale of Terror, directed by Michael Cohn. She was twice more an Emmy and SAG nominee, for her performance as real-life activist Mary Griffith in the telefilm Prayers for Bobby, directed by Russell Mulcahy, and for the miniseries Political Animals.
Among her many stage performances, she received a Tony Award nomination for her work in David Rabe’s play hurlyburly on Broadway, directed by Mike Nichols. She starred as Portia in the Classic Stage Company of New York’s production of The Merchant of Venice; and then returned to Broadway in the Lincoln Center productions of Christopher Durang’s Sex and Longing and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which won the Tony Award for Best Play. Ms. Weaver began her stage career off-off-Broadway in Mr. Durang’s The Nature and Purpose of the Universe, Titanic, and Das Lusitania Songspiel, which she co-wrote and for which they were both Drama Desk Award nominees. She originated roles in A.R. Gurney’s plays Crazy Mary at Playwrights Horizons, and Mrs. Farnsworth at the Flea Theater. She also starred in the premiere of Neil LaBute’s 9/11-themed The Mercy Seat, opposite Liev Schreiber; and originated the female lead in Anne Nelson’s The Guys at the Flea, commissioned and directed by Jim Simpson. The Guys tells the story of a fire captain after 9/11; Ms. Nelson adapted her play into a screenplay, with Mr. Simpson directing and Ms. Weaver starring in the Focus Features release.
FELICITY JONES (Mom)
Felicity Jones is best known for her BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, and Academy Award-nominated starring role opposite Eddie Redmayne in James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, also for Focus Features.
Ms. Jones next stars in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, directed by Gareth Edwards; Ron Howard’s Inferno, opposite Tom Hanks; and Collide, opposite Nicholas Hoult and Ben Kingsley.
American audiences first took notice of her in 2011 as the star of Drake Doremus’ romantic drama Like Crazy, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim, earning the Grand Jury Prize for American Dramatic Film and earning her a Special Jury Award for Acting. Ms. Jones subsequently went on to win the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Actor, the National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performer, and the Empire Award for Best Female Newcomer.
Her other feature credits include The Invisible Woman, in which she starred with Ralph Fiennes, who also directed; Rupert Goold’s drama True Story, opposite Jonah Hill and James Franco; Breathe In, which reteamed her with director Drake Doremus; Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2; Julie Taymor’s film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; Stephen Merchant’s Cemetery Junction; and Julian Jarrold’s Brideshead Revisited.
Ms. Jones’ extensive television credits include David Hare’s telefilms Page Eight and Salting the Battlefield, both with Bill Nighy; the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank and Jane Austen’s Northhanger Abbey, both directed by Jon Jones; and a guest-starring role on HBO’s hit series Girls.
A veteran of the stage, she recently earned rave reviews in Michael Grandage’s Donmar Warehouse production of Luise Miller. Additional theater credits include Jeremy Herrin’s staging of That Face, at the Royal Court; and The Chalk Garden, also directed by Mr. Grandage at the Donmar, which earned Ms. Jones an Outstanding Newcomer nomination at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards.
TOBY KEBBELL (Dad)
A versatile actor who always surprises audiences with his characterizations, U.K.-born Toby Kebbell was nominated for BAFTA’s Rising Star Award in 2009.
He has starred in several action-packed fantasy adventures, among these his memorable performance-capture portrayals as the warmongering Koba in Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and as the heroic Durotan in Duncan Jones’ Warcraft. He has recently completed filming Legendary and Warner Bros.’ highly anticipated Kong: Skull Island, with Brie Larson; and Stephen Gaghan’s epic Gold, with Matthew McConaughey. He starred as the villainous Messala in Ben-Hur, directed by Timur Bekmambetov and released in the summer of 2016.
Mr. Kebbell first caught the attention of the British public with his 2004 feature film debut, when director Shane Meadows cast him in the role of Anthony in Dead Man’s Shoes. His portrayal of a young man with a learning disability earned him a nomination for Most Promising Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards (BIFA). His next features were Oliver Stone’s Alexander and Woody Allen’s Match Point.
Critical acclaim came his way anew in 2007 when he played Rob Gretton, the manager of Joy Division, in Anton Corbijn’s award-winning Control. Mr. Kebbell won the BIFA Award for Best Supporting Actor, and was nominated for the London Critics’ Circle Film Award.
His standout performance in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla earned him The Sun newspaper’s Best Actor award as well as an Empire Award nomination. His other films include Steven Spielberg’s War Horse; Mike Newell’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; Jon Turtletaub’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Jonathan Liebesman’s Wrath of the Titans; Ridley Scott’s The Counselor; and Robert Redford’s The Conspirator.
On television, Mr. Kebbell took the lead in an episode of Jimmy McGovern’s BBC series The Street, which subsequently won the BAFTA Award for Best Drama. His other work for the BBC includes a modern retelling of Macbeth, alongside James McAvoy. For Channel 4, he starred in an episode of Black Mirror.
On stage, he has performed at the Almeida Theatre, in Sir David Hare’s reworking of Maxim Gorky’s Enemies; and at the Playhouse Theatre in R.C. Sherriff’s classic Journey’s End.
LEWIS MacDOUGALL (Conor)
Lewis MacDougall was 12 years old when he filmed A Monster Calls. He is now 14 years old.
His transition from being a junior drama club member in his home town of Edinburgh, Scotland to being in major motion pictures happened quickly. His club drama teacher saw his potential and suggested that he join the more advanced acting group. On his first attendance, the casting director Orla O’Connor visited scouting for young talent to be in Joe Wright’s Pan. After a lengthy audition process spanning several weeks and several audition sessions, Mr. MacDougall was cast as Peter’s best friend Nibs, who features in the early orphanage sequences of the movie. He enjoyed the stunt training and learning a Cockney accent for the role.
He was signed at that point by an agent who subsequently brought him to the attention of the casting director of A Monster Calls. Whilst filming in Barcelona, Mr. MacDougall, a huge football (a.k.a. soccer, in the U.S.) fan, was lucky enough to see Barcelona play on their home ground.
He has since completed filming the movie Boundaries, written and directed by Shana Feste, in which he portrays Vera Farmiga’s character’s son, and the grandson of the character played by Christopher Plummer.
LIAM NEESON (The Monster)
Liam Neeson received Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and BAFTA Award nominations for his performance as Oskar Schindler in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Best Picture Oscar winner Schindler’s List.
Three years later, he played the title role in Neil Jordan’s biopic Michael Collins, earning another Golden Globe nomination and winning an Evening Standard British Film Award and the 1996 Venice International Film Festival’s Volpi Cup for Best Actor.
Mr. Neeson garnered his third Golden Globe nomination, an Independent Spirit Award nomination, and won a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for his portrayal of Alfred Kinsey in Bill Condon’s Kinsey (2004).
He will next be seen on-screen in Martin Scorsese’s Silence and Peter Landesman’s Felt. Mr. Neeson has appeared in over 70 films, including the blockbuster Taken trilogy; Joe Carnahan’s The Grey; Bille August’s Les Misérables; George Lucas’ Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace; Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins; Richard Curtis’ Love Actually; and Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.
Mr. Neeson made his Broadway debut in 1993, receiving a Tony Award nomination for his performance in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s revival of Eugene O’Neill’s 1921 drama Anna Christie.
He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and a proud father of two sons.
A Monster Calls
About the Filmmakers
J.A. BAYONA (Director)
J.A. Bayona’s most recent feature film as director was The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland; it was based on the powerful true story of a family’s survival of the tragic Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004. The Impossible grossed more than $180 million at the worldwide box office and brought Ms. Watts Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and Academy Award nominations. Mr. Holland received honors including an Empire Award for Best Newcomer. The Impossible won five Goya Awards, which are Spain’s Oscars equivalent, including Best Director; and six Gaudí Awards, including Best Director.
Prior to making A Monster Calls, Mr. Bayona directed the first two episodes of Showtime’s series Penny Dreadful, starring Eva Green, which instantly attracted a loyal following. Having completed A Monster Calls, he will next direct the new Jurassic World movie, for release in June 2018.
Born in Barcelona, he grew up with a passion for film. This led him to become a journalist and later to study directing, at the Cinema and Audiovisual School of Catalonia (ESCAC).
After directing two short films, My Holidays and The Sponge Man, Mr. Bayona met screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez, who gifted him with the script for The Orphanage, which became his first feature as director. The Orphanage world-premiered at the 2007 Cannes International Film Festival to a 10-minute standing ovation. It was then released nationally in Spain, and its opening four-day box office was the highest of the year and at the time the second-highest ever for a Spanish film.
The Orphanage was nominated for 14 Goya Awards, winning seven including Mr. Bayona’s for Best New Director.
PATRICK NESS (Screenwriter; Author)
In June 2012, Patrick Ness’ novel A Monster Calls, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd and illustrated by Jim Kay, became the first book to win both of the U.K.’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book awards, the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal for illustrations. Mr. Ness became only the second author to win two consecutive Carnegie Medals. A Monster Calls also won The Children’s Book of the Year Award at the Galaxy National Book Awards; the Red House Children’s Book Award; Germany’s Jugendliteratur Prize; and the U.K. Literary Association’s Children’s Book Prize.
His much-praised “Chaos Walking Trilogy” is being developed by Lionsgate as a feature film series. The first book in the trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, won The Guardian’s Children’s Fiction Prize in 2008 as well as The Book Trust Teenage Prize. The second book, The Ask and the Answer, won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2009; and the third book, Monsters of Men, brought Mr. Ness his first Carnegie Medal in 2011.
His books have been translated into 37 languages. His novel for adults The Crane Wife was inspired by a Japanese folk tale and was selected for Oprah’s Book Club in the U.S., with Mr. Ness then being shortlisted for UK Author of the Year at the 2013 National Book Awards.
His novels also include More Than This (first published in 2014) and The Rest of Us Just Live Here (2015), both for young adults; the latter is to be issued in paperback in the U.S. in September 2016.
He wrote Tip of the Tongue, a Doctor Who short story, as part of the anthology celebrating the Doctor’s 50th Anniversary in 2013. Mr. Ness has created and scripted the new BBC series Class; the eight-episode show is a young adults-themed spinoff of Doctor Who.
He taught Creative Writing at Oxford University for three years. Mr. Ness is a native of Virginia, raised in the U.S., who now makes his home in London.
BELÉN ATIENZA (Producer)
Belén Atienza has collaborated with J.A. Bayona on all of his feature films.
She was a producer on Mr. Bayona’s The Impossible, for which the director won a Goya Award, Spain’s Oscars equivalent. The movie grossed more than $180 million at the worldwide box office and earned actress Naomi Watts an Academy Award nomination.
Ms. Atienza produced A Monster Calls and The Impossible through her company Apaches Entertainment, which she created with Enrique Lopez Lavigne in 2008. In 2014, she was co-executive producer on episodes of the Showtime series Penny Dreadful that were directed by Mr. Bayona. She was an executive producer on the director’s first feature film, The Orphanage, which won seven Goya Awards.
As a producer at Telecinco, Spain’s largest television network as well as a major film investor, she was an executive producer on Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, which won three Academy Awards; and on The Orphanage, Agustin Diaz Yanes’ Alatriste, starring Viggo Mortensen, and Steven Soderbergh’s two-part Che: The Argentine and Che: The Guerrilla.
Ms. Atienza will next produce writer/director Sergio G. Sánchez’s psychological thriller Marrowbone.
ÓSCAR FAURA (Director of Photography)
Óscar Faura has been the cinematographer on all three of J.A. Bayona’s feature films, collaborating with Mr. Bayona on The Orphanage (for which he received a European Film Award nomination) The Impossible (for which he received a Goya Award, Spain’s Oscars equivalent, nomination), and now A Monster Calls.
After working as second unit cinematographer on films including Antonio Banderas’ Summer Rain, Mr. Faura segued to the feature director of photography chair with The Orphanage. He went on to win a Gaudí Award for The Impossible, and was a Gaudí nominee for Guillem Morales’ Julia’s Eyes.
He was nominated for an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award for as cinematographer of the globally acclaimed and award-winning The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, directed by Morten Tyldum.
EUGENIO CABALLERO (Production Designer)
Eugenio Caballero won an Academy Award as production designer on Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, Mr. Caballero’s work on the film also earned him an Ariel Award (which is Mexico’s top film award), an Art Directors Guild Award, and a Los Angeles Film Critics Association award, as well as Goya, Satellite, and BAFTA Award nominations.
Born in Mexico City, he began his career as production designer in Mexico after studying in the History of Art and Cinema in Florence. After getting his start on award-winning music videos and short films, he quickly transitioned to feature films.
Mr. Caballero’s nearly two dozen features as production designer include, also for Focus Features, Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control; Floria Sigismondi’s The Runaways, starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning; Fernando Eimbcke’s Club Sandwich; Claudia Llosa’s Aloft; Carlos Cuaron’s Rudo y Cursi, starring Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna; Alejandro Springall’s Santitos, for which he was an Ariel Award nominee; Jorge Aguilera’s Seres humanos, which also earned him an Ariel nomination; Carlos Salcés’ Zurdo, for which he won his first Ariel Award; Russell Mulcahy’s Resident Evil: Extinction; and three movies with director Sebastián Cordero – Crónicas, Rabia, and Europa Report.
He first collaborated with J.A. Bayona as production designer on The Impossible, for which he again received Art Directors Guild and Goya Award nominations.
In 2014, he designed the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Paralympic Winter Olympics for director Daniele Finzi. Mr. Caballero also collaborated with Mr. Finzi on the new Cirque du Soleil show Luzia, which recently opened in Montreal.
He has served as a jury member on numerous international festivals, and is a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the Mexican Film Academy.
BERNAT VILAPLANA (Editor)
As editor, Bernat Vilaplana previously collaborated with A Monster Calls director J.A. Bayona on The Impossible, for which he won Goya (Spain’s highest film honors) and Gaudí Awards; and on the first two episodes of the hit television series Penny Dreadful.
For director Guillermo del Toro, Mr. Vilaplana has edited Pan’s Labyrinth, for which he won a Goya Award and was nominated for an Ariel (Mexico’s highest film honors) Award; Hellboy II: The Golden Army; and Crimson Peak.
He was also the film editor on Nacho Vigalondo’s Open Windows, starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey; Óscar Aibar’s El Bosc, for which he was a Gaudí Award nominee; and Roser Aguilar’s Lo Mejor de mí, among other features.
Mr. Vilaplana is a partner in the Spanish production company Corte y Confección de Películas.
JAUME MARTÍ (Editor)
Jaume Martí won the Gaudí Award for Best Film Editing for his work on Brad Anderson’s Transsiberian, starring Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer. He was again a Gaudí nominee for editing Pau Freixas’ Héroes.
A Monster Calls marks his latest collaboration with director J.A. Bayona, following Mr. Martí’s work as post-production supervisor on the acclaimed feature The Impossible; and as editor on the first two episodes of the hit series Penny Dreadful, both directed by Mr. Bayona.
Among other notable television series that he has edited are the original Spanish versions of The Red Band Society and The Mysteries of Laura.
Among his other feature work, Mr. Martí co-edited Di Di Hollywood, directed by Bigas Luna, and edited the director’s Yo soy la Juani, for which he received a Barcelona Film Award nomination; edited Santiago Zannou’s The One-Handed Trick and co-edited the director’s Scorpion in Love; and edited Jaume Balagueró’s Fragile, starring Calista Flockhart, for which he won a Barcelona Film Award.
Mr. Martí has also edited television commericials. He has been the head of the editing and post-production department at Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya (ESCAC), which is the University of Barcelona’s film school.
FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ (Music)
Fernando Velázquez is a Spanish-born film composer. He previously collaborated with A Monster Calls director J.A. Bayona as composer of the scores for The Impossible and The Orphanage, the latter of which brought him a Discovery of the Year nomination at the World Soundtrack Awards as well as a European Film Award nomination and Spain’s Cinema Writers Circle’s Best Score honors. His work on each film earned him a Goya Award (Spain’s Oscars equivalent) nomination. At the International Film Music Conference in Úbeda, he was nominated for the Jerry Goldsmith Award for Young Composers.
His feature film scores have also included the ones for Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak and Andres Muschietti’s Mama, both starring Jessica Chastain; John Erick Dowdle’s Devil; Brett Ratner’s Hercules; Koldo Serra’s The Backwoods, starring Gary Oldman; and Tom Kalin’s Savage Grace, starring Julianne Moore and Eddie Redmayne.
Mr. Velázquez is an accomplished cello player in orchestras including Madrid’s Teatro Real Opera. His cellist performances, as well as his training in conservatories such as Jesús Guridi, and his composition studies in the RCSM Madrid and Paris, inspire and inform his film compositions.
When not composing original scores for movies, he enjoys playing guitar in rock bands – a passion of his from an early age.
STEVEN NOBLE (Costume Designer)
Steven Noble received BAFTA and Costume Designers Guild (CDG) Award nominations as costume designer on James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, also for Focus Features, starring Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne and Academy Award nominee Felicity Jones, also of A Monster Calls.
His work as costume designer will presently be seen on-screen in Benedict Andrews’ Una, based on David Harrower’s Olivier Award-winning play Blackbird, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Rooney Mara; Bridget Jones’s Baby, reteaming director Sharon Maguire and stars Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth; and T2: Trainspotting 2, reteaming director Danny Boyle and stars Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller, and Ewen Bremner.
Mr. Noble graduated with distinction from York College of Art. He spent several years designing for the theater; working with noted London fashion houses; and styling shoots for such magazines as The Face and ID. All of these creative collaborations shaped his affinity for costume design as a vocation.
He was costume designer on Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People, starring Steve Coogan. His subsequent films as costume designer have included three with director Christopher Smith – Severance, Triangle, and Get Santa; Mark Romanek’s Never Let Me Go, starring Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield; Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights; Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club; Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces of January, starring Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, and Oscar Isaac; and Jonathan Glazer’s much-talked-about Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson.
A Monster Calls
Conor LEWIS MacDOUGALL
Grandma SIGOURNEY WEAVER
Mom FELICITY JONES
Dad TOBY KEBBELL
Mr. Clark BEN MOOR
Harry JAMES MELVILLE
Sully OLIVER STEER
Anton DOMINIC BOYLE
Miss Kwan JENNIFER LIM
Steven MAX GABBAY
Lawyer MORGAN SYMES
5-Year-Old Conor MAX GOLDS
Lily’s Mom FRIDA PALSSON
Female Nurse WANDA OPALINSKA
Teacher PATRICK TAGGART
Lily LILY ROSE ASLANDOGDU
as the Head Teacher
as The Monster
Crew and Credits
Directed by J.A. BAYONA
Screenplay by PATRICK NESS
Based upon the novel written by PATRICK NESS
From an original idea by SIOBHAN DOWD
Produced by BELÉN ATIENZA
Executive Producers PATRICK NESS
Executive Producers PATRICK WACHSBERGER
Co-Producer SANDRA HERMIDA
Director of Photography ÓSCAR FAURA
Production Designer EUGENIO CABALLERO
Editors BERNAT VILAPLANA
Music FERNANDO VELÁZQUEZ
Casting SHAHEEN BAIG
Sound Designer ORIOL TARRAGÓ
Costume Designer STEVEN NOBLE
Make-up and Hair Designer MARESE LANGAN
Visual Effects Supervisor FÉLIX BERGÉS
Special Effects Supervisor PAU COSTA
Special Make-up Effects DAVID MARTÍ
1st A.D. FERNANDO TRULLOLS
Key 2nd A.D. RUBÉN GOLDFARB
MÓNICA SÁNCHEZ ZARAGOZA
2nd A.D. Set MARC RIAL
1st A.D. UK THOM FELL
2nd A.D. UK JAN ZALAR
3rd A.D. ANNA CAPDEVILA
3rd A.D. Retakes JESUS ESPÍN
Script Supervisor GLORIA BLANES
Assistants to Director CARLOS GARCÍA BAYONA
A.D. Dailies MIRIAM GIMÉNEZ
Director 2nd Unit EUGENIO MIRA
1st A.D. 2nd Unit RICHARD DIMENT
2nd A.D. 2nd Unit OLGA PUJALTE
3rd A.D. 2nd Unit ESTHER ROJAS
Script Supervisor 2nd Unit ANA GARRIDO
Crowd Assistant Director PENNY DAVIES
Kids’ Acting Coach/Chaperone BEN PERKINS
Kids’ Acting Coach LAURA JOU
Dialect Coach MAJELLA HURLEY
Dialogue Coach SARAH SHEPERD
Coach Assistant PERE ASPINALL
Performance Coach ALEKSANDRA SASHA KOZLOV-SILBER
NY Coach LIZ HIMELSTEIN
UK Tutor ESTHER DAVIS
Tutor ANITA PRIMETT
Casting Assistants AISHA WALTERS
Spain Casting LUCY LENOX
Creative Consultants JOSEP VILA
Researcher LAURA CARULLA
Assistant to Mr. Neeson ANNA GRAHAM
UK Driver to Mr. Neeson HEATH REID
Spain Driver to Ms. Weaver EDUARD ARRIBAS
Spain Driver to Ms. Jones ALBERT IGLESIAS
Driver to Mr. Kebbell THIAGO LIMA
Line Producer SANDRA HERMIDA
Unit Production Manager GOYO GÁMEZ
Set Production Assistant SARA RIBAGORDA GIL
Stage Managers NESTOR PELLEGRINI
Production Assistants LUNA AUSINA
Production Runners LAURA MARROQUÍN
MARTA DEL RIO
Production Trainee MARC MASSÓ
Production Coordinator RAÚL DÍAZ
Travel/Accommodation Coordinator ALMUDENA CORMENZANA
Production Secretary XAVI TIÓ
Clearances Coordinator ARACELI LASSO DE LA VEGA
Script Clearance Research INDIE CLEAR, CAROL COMPTON
Legal Deliveries INÉS MAS
Financial Director BEA MAYO
Accountants JAN GARCÍA
DANIEL PÉREZ SOUCASE
Cashiers ENRIC LLOPIS
Executive Assistant to Mrs. Atienza INÉS MAS
Line Producer SARAH JANE WHEALE
Unit Production Manager MARGARITA HUGUET
Production Manager CLARE FINNEGAN
Assistant UPM ANDREA CUEVAS
Set Production Assistant JOSUE CORRAL
Runners GEMMA THORPE
Drivers TIM LEWIS
Floor Runners KIERAN O’NEAL
Location Manager TOM HOWARD
Assistant Location Manager JASON NIGHTINGALE
Unit Manager ANDREW HENSTOCK
Location Assistant DAVE HARDY
Location Manager – Additional Filming STEPHEN CHEERS
Unit Manager – Additional Filming IAN FINDLAY
Additional Locations JASON ALLEN
Production Coordinators MANDY TODD
Assistant Coordinator LYNDSEY HALUSZCZAK
Production Assistant TILLY SHARP
Production Runner SOPHIE REYNOLDS
UK Production Accountant MARYLLIS GONZÁLEZ
UK Assistant Accountant FRASER WARREN
Location Scouts LLUNA JUVÉ
Unit Production Manager SOLE MARTÍNEZ
Production Runners JAVI CARRETERO RAMOS
CLARA SOLER ISART
Unit Production Manager JORGE LLAMA
Location Manager STEPHEN CHEERS
Location Assistant ALISTAIR TOPPING
Production Coordinator EILEEN GARTSIDE
Drawing Retakes Unit
Production Runners ADRIANA DE SANDOVAL
Camera Operator ALBERT CARRERAS
1st AC GUILLEM HUERTAS
2nd AC CELINE GRAVEZ
DIT PABLO LAGO
Data Wrangler DAVID FLORES
Video Assist IGOR ANDRES
Camera Trainees THOMAS BARRERA
2nd Unit Camera Operator/1st Unit DOP SERGI BARTROLÍ
Focus Puller Camera B JUAN CARLOS GOR