The Witch stars Kate Dickie and Ralph Ineson as a couple in 1630 New England whose lives are disrupted with the abduction of their baby. In the beginning, the couple assume wolves had taken the infant, but as further misfortunes are visited upon their village, the townspeople come to believe there is a witch in the surrounding woods.
The Witch Actress Kate Dickie Says She Believes There Is A Witch In The Woods
Like most films about the fear of witches that swept through the New England colonies in the 16th and 17th centuries, The Witch relies heavily on the sexual repression and demonization of women of those eras. According to the Irish Times, Kate Dickie, who came to her celebrity status through a recurring Game of Thrones role, says that the existence of the witch is a matter of opinion. The Witch actress adds that director Robert Eggers wanted the audience to decide for themselves whether the witch is real or just a superstition of the villagers. For Dickie, that witch is the real deal. Maybe not flesh and blood, but as far as being a metaphor for people's fears and prejudices, Kate says there is definitely something out there.
"For me I had, for my character, to absolutely believe there is a witch in the woods," the Witch actress said. "It is all to do with how women were perceived then. They were not able to express themselves."
Horror tales of this nature wouldn't be complete without the teenage girl coming into puberty, triggering the fear mongering of adults who should know better. In the case of The Witch, that teenager is the daughter of Dickie's character, and her name is Thomasin, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Kate says Thomasin is a free-spirited girl, which is something everyone of that era, Kate's character included, fears and tries to subdue. The Witch actress adds that the film tries to show how difficult it was to be a woman in that era.
There Are Real Troubles For The Family That Blames Everything On The Witch
Kate says there is a complex family dynamic between her character, William (Ineson), and Thomasin (Taylor-Joy) that creates conflict easily blamed on a witch in the woods. Much of that drama stems from the loss of the baby, which would have been the last child Dickie's character, Katherine, would have been able to bear. She adds that Katherine feels angry and jealous of her teen daughter, because Thomasin is just coming into puberty and beginning child-bearing years.
"There's so much resentment from me, and jealousy and things that I don't even want to admit as a mother that I'm starting to feel towards Thomasin...and Katherine doesn't deal well with that at all."
Rob Eggers strives for authenticity in The Witch from every aspect, supplying the actors with hand-stitched clothes made from colonial period textiles as well as period books. Kate Dickie says she was supplied with The Practice of Piety, a puritan prayer book to give her ideas about what to say when The Witch script calls for her character to pray.
Dickie was also given a copy of The Housewives' Handbook, which is exactly what it sounds like. The Witch actress describes it as a guide for learning how to interact with the husband and with God while also instructing the woman on the proper ways to complete her household duties.
Kate says that the grief of this family in losing their baby is what she found most compelling and what she says drew her to The Witch in the first place. She says the kind of grief this family experiences really tears them apart because it was more than what was expected in that era's society. As William points out to Katherine, they should have been grateful that they only lost one baby. This one remark seems to become a catalyst for much of the conflict in this family, as Katherine, William, and Thomasin are all at odds against one another.
"It was the real familiar story of a drama of a family falling apart, of losing a child, of the grieving from the loss and the love and that was a kind of theme for me that really stood out when I read it, and I found really interesting, as well," said Ms. Dickie.
The Witch is in theaters now.
[Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images]