From executive producer/director/star Rob Lowe, the Lifetime Television reimagining of the iconic 1956 psychological horror film The Bad Seed follows a single father (Lowe) who seems to have everything under control, until a tragedy hits too close to home and forces him to question everything he thought he knew about his sweet, beloved and highly driven daughter. As more and more bad things happen to people surrounding Emma (brilliantly played by Mckenna Grace, with a performance that will give you chills), he begins to wonder just what his own daughter is capable of and what he is willing to do to stop it.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Patty McCormack (nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her own brilliant performance in the original, at the age of 10) talked about bringing The Bad Seed into present-day, when and how she learned about this new remake, the previous version that director Eli Roth almost made, why this story is more effective without overdoing it on the blood and gore, the fun of playing the psychiatrist who treats this new Bad Seed, getting to see what Mckenna Grace did with the role, working with director Rob Lowe, realizing that The Bad Seed was something that she would always be remembered for, and what’s guided her career, over the years.
Collider: I very much appreciate you talking to me! I was a huge fan of the original movie and your performance in it, and was thrilled to see you in this remake, as well.
PATTY McCORMACK: That’s great. Thank you! That’s so nice.
Could you ever have imagined that you’d be here, in a remake of this movie, doing scenes with the young actress who’s in the role that you played in the original? Does that feel very strange?
McCORMACK: Yes! I love the notion that the part wasn’t in the original story because then it feels like a brand-new day. But you’re right, it’s so strange that I would be helping her mind, so to speak. Taking appraisal of what I used to be is pretty bizarre. That was very fun.
When and how was this opportunity presented to you, and what was your reaction to learning that there would be this remake?
McCORMACK: I was surprised. There had been rumors, over the years. There was one in the ‘80s that wasn’t that big of a deal. But this script was so interesting because it brought it into present day, story-wise, changed the mom to a dad, and did a lot of different things like that. The character of the babysitter, for instance, reminded me of the janitor, Leroy. I saw Leroy in her. It was more modern, in that she was trying to make a pass at him, and she accused Emma of being a horrible child, and then she found out that yes, she is. She thought she was imagining some of it, and that she wasn’t really as bad as she thought. But then, there comes a point in time when she realizes, “Oh, my god, she really is a killer.” That reminded me of Leroy, in the old film. It’s nice, the way it’s brought into present day, like that. It’s not using the same characters, in the same way. I don’t know how these things come about, but what seemed to have happened was that I was given a choice of this part and a different character in it, and I really favored the little part of the psychiatrist because it felt so much stranger to me, and they agreed. They also felt that it was much more interesting for me to be a therapist, or at least the person he goes to for good advice. It’s funny.
I know that you had said previously that, if this movie were remade, that it would almost certainly be more graphic, which this movie isn’t really. It still leaves quite a bit to your imagination, which I think is really effective.
McCORMACK: I do, too.
Were you surprised that they were able to still keep that aspect of it?
McCORMACK: Yeah, I was totally surprised. There was a point in time when I heard that Eli Roth was going to do it. For awhile, he played around with the idea of doing it and I thought, “Oh, my god, it’s going to be really bloody and gory. We’re going to see everything.” So, yes, I love that the tone is almost proper. What really helps with the frightening aspect of the little girl is that it’s tidy, like she is. That’s always scarier to me than actually seeing everything. She’s such a good actress, too. I love that they darkened her hair because she’s really blonde. All of the choices they made to change it and make it more for this audience fits in with the time that we’re in.