The last time we spoke to teen actor Jayden McGinlay, he was celebrating the release of The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay on Disney Channel, but he had other projects in the works a little more sinister than a spooky teen mystery movie. Before filming The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay, Jayden was working on two horror projects, including the recently released Children of the Corn.
Children of the Corn (2023) reimagines Stephen King’s classic horror story about a dangerous group of children in a Nebraskan town. The film started shooting in April 2020 and was, as writer/director Kurt Wimmer told Movieweb, “the only film shooting on Earth” at the time. In the film, Jayden plays Cecil, an original character from this adaptation.
We caught up with Jayden to get an inside look at how Children of the Corn (and even the corn itself!) came to life. Read the full interview below.
Showstopper Magazine Online: What was it like filming Children of the Corn? Tell us about your character.
Jayden McGinlay: It was a unique experience because we filmed in the middle of the worldwide lockdown in 2020! It was the only production shooting in the world at that time. The producers and safety coordinator had to navigate things day by day; we had no idea how long we’d be able to shoot for. We had a whole list of safety protocols that allowed us to complete the film. We all had separate areas to sit on the set, had to stay 1.5m apart, and stayed in “the bubble” in Richmond, Australia, from March to May.
In the movie, I play the character of Cecil, the younger brother of Boleyn, played by Elena Kampouris. Cecil has a lot of love for his sister, and there’s a close connection between them. When she announces leaving for the university in Boston, he feels lost and betrayed. So very early in the film, there’s a clear sense of loneliness that he experiences, and he’s vulnerable. (Without giving away any spoilers) that causes him to maybe take a step in the wrong direction.
SMO: Were you familiar with the story before getting the part?
Jayden: When I got the audition initially, they didn’t reveal the title. I didn’t know what I was auditioning for beyond the fact that it was a horror. Later, I was invited to Sydney for an in-person callback where I discovered that the role I had auditioned for was in Children of the Corn. So then I watched the original movie and did all my research! I’ve always been a big Stephen King fan. I was excited!
SMO: How did you prepare for the role?
Jayden: I worked closely with our director and writer, Kurt Wimmer, to flesh Cecil out to prepare for the role. Kurt’s openness to collaboration allowed me to dig deeper into the character’s world. It was a luxury that he also wrote the script because he already had tons of insight for the part. He articulated his ideas about the role allowing me to develop him. These characters are original as it’s not a remake of the original, so there was a lot of freedom in the creation of Cecil.
SMO: You filmed this and another horror film back-to-back. What is your relationship to horror? What do you like about playing those roles?
Jayden: I’ve always loved horror films, and I love horror films that aren’t purely about the scares and that explore and develop the characters interestingly, and that’s what drew me to Sweet River and Children of the Corn. This version of Children of the Corn differs from the previous iterations. Our film is concentrated on the kids more than the adults. The movie delves deeper into the characters’ viewpoints and motivations, which were not as explored in the prior films.
SMO: What is it like behind the scenes of a horror movie?
Jayden: We had some creepy makeup in both horror films I worked on. Sometimes it was scary to walk past someone with glazed-over contacts in their eyes when you weren’t expecting it! In Children of the Corn, there’s a scene at night with the girls singing in the corn; it was pretty creepy. Apart from that, it’s the opposite of what you see on screen! As soon as we cut, we all started chatting and hanging out in our zombie makeup; it’s chill, haha! We had an incredible cast and crew on both films; everyone was great, and there was a great atmosphere on and off-set.
SMO: Do you have a favorite moment from filming Children of the Corn?
Jayden: I loved filming it; I can’t pinpoint a favorite moment exactly. One memorable scene involved us catching a glimpse of “He Who Walks Behind the Rows” while in the presence of a pineapple on a stick. That was hilarious to film, and we had to snap out of laughter as soon as they started rolling. Everyone was so lovely, and one of my favorite moments was the last day of filming. We all sort of processed that we managed to complete the film against all odds during the lockdown, and we went through this incredible journey together; that last day was super special, and I felt a lot of gratitude. The kids put on a show they’d made, and Lucas and Kurt told touching speeches. We became a family; we were close after living in the COVID bubble for months together. It was a unique experience to go through together.
SMO: It has been a while since you filmed this project. What is it like to look back on it now?
Jayden: It’s pretty crazy looking back on it. When I watched the whole thing for the first time, I was shocked at how young I was, haha. We did film it three years ago, but it was funny to see it; it felt like a sort of out-of-body experience. It was amazing to look back on it and see how all the hard work came together. So much went into making it during COVID. For example, we could only have a certain number of people in indoor spaces at a time and for a certain amount of time, so it was tricky and took a long time, but we did it, and you would never know. I’m super proud of everyone who was a part of it.
SMO: What is it like to finally have the film out for people to watch?
Jayden: It’s awesome! It’s been a long time coming. I’m super proud of what we accomplished, especially under the circumstances.
SMO: Is there anything else you want people to know about Children of the Corn?
Jayden: Fun fact, the producers grew all the corn in the movie, which was 30 acres, and when we wrapped, they donated all the corn to the local cattle industry in Richmond.
Children of the Corn is streaming now.