Film People

Mia Goth Tells Kid Cudi Why She Wants Every Role to Feel Like Her Last

Mia Goth wears all clothing and accessories by Prada.​​​​​

Kid Cudi: Ti West is one of the most brilliant writer-directors around. What’s it like collaborating with him?

Mia Goth: It has honestly been one of the most creative and fulfilling experiences of my life. Pearl was my first time writing a real script, and he let me in on the entire process of making a movie, from conception to post-production. He would ask me certain questions such as, “What are some scenes as an actor that you’ve always dreamt of filming?” Or, “What’s the character that you’ve always longed to play?” I loved being more than just an actor. I loved being able to nurture and navigate all that it takes to eventually get to set. That’s something that Ti gave me, and I’m very grateful.

Cudi: What’s your idea of collaboration?

Goth: Collaboration to me means working together, assembling a space where we can safely fail. That will happen. A lot. You have to be so vulnerable for anything of merit to be created. What I pursue in collaboration, though, has changed as I have grown. I used to look to my directors as parental figures, seeking their guidance and approval. Now I am starting to come into myself more. I am finding my voice. I will advocate for my character and what feels authentic to her. With Ti, I was able to create a character—Pearl—who spoke to my strengths as both a woman and as an actor. Being involved from the conception certainly helped that, and it’s something that I want to continue doing.

Cudi: That’s really dope that you want to do more. I know you’re going to kill it.

Goth: Oh, thank you. Having that level of involvement in a project is just so empowering. Being an actor is constantly waiting for other people to validate you, and that can be very uncomfortable. There are so many other roles that I want to explore and characters that I would love to play. To be able to have a say in their existence would be a dream come true, really.

Cudi: What is your favorite aspect of performing?

Goth: Losing myself. Great actors make the craft appear deceptively simple. It’s one of the hardest things in the world: to speak the words on the page truthfully, wholly vulnerable, and naked. But when you can momentarily touch that ever-elusive realm...the feeling is glorious.

Cudi: What was your first acting gig?

Goth: It was the character P in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. I got the part three weeks after I graduated from high school. At that point, I would have done anything, but it just so happened that the first thing I booked was for Lars von Trier—one of the most important directors of our lifetime—and with the best caliber of actors. It felt unreal. The movie became my north star, and ever since I’ve been searching for projects that are as close to it in some way or another as possible. Now whenever I’m unsure about something, I look back to that time and remember how fulfilled I felt. Sometimes you can only really appreciate how special or consequential a moment is in retrospect, but that was one of the rare times in my life that I was fully aware, in real time, of the impact it had on me.

Cudi: I had that same feeling with X, you know.

Goth: Did you?

Cudi: Yeah. Every day I was just…happy. This feeling like, Oh my God, I’m gonna do something people will fucking see and love. That doesn’t happen all the time. It’s very rare to do a movie and be so sure that it’s going to do well.

Goth: You’re so great in it. You’re so talented, and I hope you continue to make films for as long as you want, truly. There’s something very natural about how you perform, about how you just make the characters your own.

Cudi: That means so much coming from you, thank you. I mean, come on, your performance was incredible—

Goth: No, Scott, just take the compliment! You don’t have to turn it back around to me.

Cudi: Okay! You’ve taken on such intense roles throughout your career. Is it difficult for you personally to switch them on and off?

Goth: The characters that I have portrayed tend to live in the extreme. They either exist in worlds that are so heightened and removed from my day-to-day that letting go once we wrap is pretty straightforward, or it’s the total opposite. Sometimes I’ll understand and relate to my character so much, on such an intimate level, that a part of her will always stay with me. I have a somewhat healthy sense of self, which helps. Looking back, I can see that the women I have played have shaped my life. They’ve all had a profound impact on me.

Cudi: What would be a dream role for you?

Goth: I would love to play a character in a different language. I speak Portuguese and my Spanish is pretty good. I grew up watching Pedro Almodóvar—Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is probably my favorite movie of his. It doesn’t feel like something entirely out of the realm of possibility, and would be an exciting challenge.

Cudi: Do challenges like that inspire you? Do they ever get you down?

Goth: I work on things that challenge me. That keeps me vigilant. It ensures I work hard and forces me to go the extra mile. I turn down a lot of work because I get offers for things I have already explored. Patience is a virtue. I have built a life for myself that is beautiful and that fills me up. It’s helped me a lot in maintaining my discretion when picking my projects. Sometimes you read a script and there are lines that speak to you. Other times you just know that your character—or you, yourself—is never going to be able to say them in a way that feels honest. Some people are so disconnected from what needs to happen for lines to ring true or have any substantial meaning.

Cudi: Yeah, I get the same feelings too.

Goth: And being on stage… I can’t even imagine.

Cudi: I’m kind of reaching that peak. I’m about to be 40 in a couple of years, and I don’t know how many more years of running around onstage and touring the world I have in me. But acting is different; I think I can do it for a long, long time. There’s no real age cap for that. Do you see yourself acting well into old age?

Goth: Acting is the only thing that I do, the only thing that I know. It’s a marathon for me. I’m not in a sprint or race of any sort. There is a lot of thought that goes into the choices that I make as an actor and into the films that I decide to do. I’m not rushing to get to the next set after I wrap one up. It’s important to be able to go back into your personal life, fill up your well with as many varied experiences as possible, and then return to set, which is a sacred place to release and reveal. You know, it’s a miracle to me each time I’m cast in something that I wanted to be in—and every time I wrap a movie, I’m certain I’m never going to work again. I also prepare for my movies in a similar way, so that each one feels like it might be my last. That energy makes me work harder and be more present when I’m on set with other actors. As stressful as it can be to feel it, I hope to never lose that idea that I might not work again.

Cudi: Your performance in Pearl is on the shortlists for all the awards. How does that feel?

Goth: It’s surreal. People come up to me and they tell me that Pearl is one of their favorite movies. They’ve really connected to her, and I’ve never experienced anything like that—that kind of reception, that embrace of a project that I’ve done. This is all very new to me, but I love it.

Cudi: After MaXXXine, when the X trilogy is over, what are you gonna miss the most about playing Pearl, both old and young?

Goth: I love how manic she is. There’s some imbalance within her that allows her to go from zero to 100 in a moment, and it’s so fun to play with that. It’s so freeing. In the real world, there’s something so quintessentially British about me. I’m always saying things like, “Would you mind if I did this?” Or, “Would it be alright if I blah blah blah blah?” I second-guess myself a lot more in my day-to-day life. But as Pearl—and being on set and with the crew that we had—I just felt so in control and free and really quite powerful in my craft. I’ll miss having that level of connection to a character of mine. Now that I’ve had the taste for it, I can’t go back.

Makeup by Nina Park
Hair by Adir Abergel
Nails by Rachel Joseph
Set Design by Kelly Infiel
Produced by Block Productions
Lighting Direction by Jordie Turner
Casting by Jill Demling
Video Directed by Rachel Fleminger-Hudson and Andrew Price ⁠
Cinematography by Andrew Price ⁠
Editing by Kat Yi⁠
Color by Mikey Rossiter ⁠
Music by Alex Seikaly⁠
Sound design by Nikola Antonov 
Fashion Assistance by Tom Grimsdell, Molly Novack, and Tallula Bell Madden
Tailoring by Trish December
Photography Assistance by Jordie Turner, David Winthrop, and Tyler Werges
Hair Assistance by Pilar Bermudes
Set Assistance by Dylan Lynch and Winston Willingham
Location Palace Theatre