INTERVIEW: Atlanta actor Jahzir Bruno plays opposite Octavia Spencer in HBO Max’s Roald Dahl’s "The Witches”

Jahzir Bruno stars in HBO Max's "The Witches," out October 29, 2020.
Jahzir Bruno stars in HBO Max's "The Witches," out October 29, 2020.

Credit: HBO Max

Credit: HBO Max

Atlanta actor Jahzir Bruno, now 11, said he avoids scary movies. “They give me bad dreams,” he said.

But as an actor, he happily jumped on board to be a lead in "The Witches,” which came out last Friday on HBO Max and is based on the story by author Roald Dahl. It also stars Octavia Spencer as his grandmother, Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch and Stanley Tucci as the hotel manager. (Like many films, this one was destined for the movie theaters, but the pandemic forced a change of plans.)

Dahl’s books tend to veer into dark, surreal territory and this adaptation is no exception. The witches in this iteration have no hair, claw-like hands, no toes and a deep hatred for children.

Jahzir’s character loses his parents early in the movie and has to live with his grandmother, played by Spencer. She tries to cheer him up, but when they go to a hotel where witches happen to be meeting, the Grand High Witch turns him into a mouse. Fortunately, his grandma knows potions and hopefully can help him become a child again while beating back the witches with the help of two fellow kids who were also turned into mice.

While Hathaway is a super nice woman on set when the camera isn’t rolling, Jahzir said she played the witch with proper despicable glee. “I just loved to watch her,” he said.

Jahzir before the film said he wasn’t a witch skeptic but I’m now “I’m second-guessing myself."

Jahzir spent months last year shooting the film in England, although it was set in 1960s-era Alabama. (Some scenes were shot in Alabama and Georgia.) He said he actually picked up some British words and a bit of an accent, which he retained when he returned to Atlanta. “I felt like I couldn’t get rid of it for a long time,” he said.

He will also appear on Nextflix’s film “Christmas Chronicles 2," starring Kurt Russell as Santa Claus with some other big-name actors, such as Tyrese Gibson, Goldie Hawn and Kimberly Williams-Paisley. That film comes out November 25.

Jahzir’s career, since a small role in FXX’s “Atlanta,” in 2018, has been a steady path upwards. “It’s weird,” he said. “I feel great. I’m looking forward to the future.”

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