The Blair Witch Project spurred a media sensation, sending the most curious among us backpacking through the Maryland woods, and the less ambitious, but just as obsessed film fans, clamoring for a new sequel. That sequel was delivered with 2000’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 and, although it became a cult classic with its DVD release, it never resonated with fans as much as the original. Now, we have another sequel and this one, kept hidden from fans by giving it the ambiguous title of The Woods, already promises to live up to the reputation garnered by the original Blair Witch Project.
Blair Witch Brings Us Back To Burkittsville
There has long been rumors that a new Blair Witch Project sequel was being considered, but that was seemingly as far as it went with most fans assuming the film would never materialize. In fact, Blair Witch writer Simon Barrett and director Adam Wingard have kept their project under wraps, maintaining secrecy on the sequel by titling it The Woods, reveals Entertainment Weekly. Like the original, Blair Witch is a found footage adventure in which the brother of Heather Donahue’s 1999 character, played by James Allen McCune, sets out to discover what really happened to his lost sister.
“The Woods was our working title,” says the Blair Witch director, Wingard. “When we signed on to it, we knew that [the name] was eventually going to be changed. To us, it wasn’t even going to be part of the marketing. But I think Lionsgate made a really smart decision, using that.”
The Blair Witch Project set a standard in found footage films, says Barrett, explaining that the original film created a high standard of realism, which is something that really hasn’t been recreated since the 1999 release. One aspect that Simon feels adds to the very real feel for The Blair Witch Project was the way all cameras pointed down at the ground at the actors’ feet, as they argued in certain scenes. The writer hopes Blair Witch can achieve that same sense of realism with today’s moviegoers.
The Blair Witch Project: What Really Happened To Heather, Josh, And Mike?
All of this talk about Blair Witch has fans wondering what happened to the trio of actors from the original film, The Blair Witch Project. Anticipating our curiosity, Movie Pilot put together a small expose on where those actors are today, and what has led them to their individual paths, since the 1999 release of The Blair Witch Project.
While The Blair Witch Project was certainly an ensemble cast, Heather Donahue was cast as the lead simply by the nature of her character’s personality. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Heather was a controlling and ambitious sort, though we see her evolve as the film progresses, and ultimately, she becomes more likable and more human as she draws nearer to her tragic end. In any case, the actress, Ms. Donahue, is very much unlike her Blair Witch counterpart. She pursued an acting career for a few years, following her Blair Witch fame, starring in such films as The Morgue (2008), It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005), and Boys and Girls (2000). Donahue also starred in the short-lived sci-fi drama series, Taken (2002).
Ultimately, Heather gave up the Hollywood lifestyle and acting altogether. Today, she lives in Nevada City, California, where she grows medical marijuana and writes. The Blair Witch Project actress wrote a book about her experiences in transitioning from actress to marijuana farmer in GrowGirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went.
Joshua Leonard is the most successful of the bunch, by Hollywood standards. Leonard has continued to pursue his acting and filmmaking ambitions, using The Blair Witch Project as a stepping stone. In the 17 years since that hit, Joshua has starred in a number of films and television series. Most recently, Leonard has guest starred in Togetherness, Scorpion, and Heartbeat. Mr. Leonard has also started to branch out to write and direct, having taken those important behind the scenes roles in two recent projects, The Lie and Behold My Heart.
Finally, Michael C. Williams, or Mike, as he was affectionately called in The Blair Witch Project, pursued an acting career of his own with limited success. Although he made a number of appearances in films and on television since The Blair Witch Project, Williams’ career never really took off. Today, the 43-year-old Blair Witch Project star manages the Big Blue Door Theater in Hawthorne, New York. Mike is married to Toni, his high school sweetheart. The couple were wed in 2000 and have two children.
Blair Witch, starring Corbin Reid, Wes Robinson, and Valorie Curry, hits theaters on September 16.
[Image by Lionsgate]