How 'X' Pulled Off Mia Goth's Creepy Double Role

Goth plays both hero and slasher in the Ti West horror film from A24.


From the first time Mia Goth’s coke-snorting, ambitious porn star Maxine locks eyes with Pearl, the old lady who lives in the rustic Texas farmhouse where a crew of pornographers are about to make a feature, in the new horror film X, you can tell the two women have some sort of connection. Their bond only grows stronger once Pearl starts murdering people, consumed by a long-latent lust that only Maxine can fulfill. But it’s not until the credits roll that some might realize just how deep the relationship goes. Not only does Goth play Maxine, our final girl with blue eye shadow who wants to be a star; she also dons loads of prosthetics to play Pearl.

When I spoke with Goth and director Ti West via Zoom last month, they were hoping to keep the dual nature of Goth’s parts something of a secret. But by the time the movie debuted at SXSW earlier this week, it had already been spilled. At the premiere, West announced that he’s shot an entirely separate movie starring Goth as the young version of her slasher character, adding another impressive feat to what is already shocking work from the actress best known for arty experiments like Nymphomaniac, the Suspiria remake and Claire Denis’s High Life.

The idea for the double roles came from West’s desire to challenge himself as he embarked on his first feature since 2016’s In the Valley of Violence. Best known for his breakout horror film The House of the Devil, an ’80s homage that’s as stylish as it is scary, West wanted to dive back into the genre, but he also wanted something that would challenge him. “I just wanted to do something that gave me an opportunity as a director to do something very craft-forward, but gave a performer an opportunity to do something very craft-forward also,” he says. “I didn’t know if we’d be able to pull it off, because either it works or it doesn’t. It could have been like, no one wants to talk to us because it didn’t work. I think that it’s a testament to Mia, how well it works.”


When Goth first met with West on Zoom to talk about the project, she had no idea what he had in store. Eventually she would be flying to New Zealand, where they had five weeks of rehearsal and makeup tests with the famed Weta Workshop -known for effects-heavy projects like The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, and Mad Max: Fury Road-before shooting started. She then had to spend between six and nine hours getting prosthetics applied to film any scenes as Pearl.

The New Zealand landscape stands in for the swampy Texas back roads where Maxine and her cohort expect to make a porn masterpiece. Her boyfriend producer Wayne (Martin Henderson) has made a deal with an elderly man named Howard (Stephen Ure, who is familiar with prosthetics from his work on Lord of the Rings) to use his boardinghouse-though Howard is unaware just what will go down among the pretty young things played by the likes of Brittany Snow and Kid Cudi. West’s misdirect is that Howard seems like he’s going to be the instigator of the bloodshed because of puritanical impulses. Rather, it’s Pearl and her insatiable horniness that sets off the killings.

“I never saw Pearl as a villain to begin with,” Goth says. “I really think that she was more a product of her time and a product of all the experiences that she’s gone through. I had a lot of sympathy for Pearl, actually. And in many ways, I kind of saw them as the same woman.” Goth could spend the hours getting her prosthetics applied situating herself in the right mindset. Though she initially worked opposite a double for the scenes featuring both Maxine and Pearl, by the end of the shoot she was asking West if she could just do scenes by herself. “It was very freeing,” she says.

It’s the kind of serious-acting-exercise work you maybe don’t associate with slashers, but that was all part of West’s grand plan to mix the high and the low. He wanted to use a logline that could seem very prurient-porn stars get murdered by aging hicks-and mash it up with technical precision.

“Really, the impetus for it was to take a very lowbrow sub-genre, the slasher movie, [with] this old-school marketing trope of sex and violence, then try to do something-maybe pretentiously-a little highbrow with it.,” West says. And sure enough, X still has all the sleazy pleasures you want from a blood-splattered sex romp, but the ways West and his actors pulled it off surprises at every turn.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.


Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.


Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.


BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

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