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Much like director Ari Aster's previous film Hereditary, Midsommar puts its characters through some amazing paces in the name of horror, not just emotionally, but physically. But for his character's ultimate scene, actor Will Poulter told SYFY WIRE that he was actually spared the logistical nightmare of going through the process of dealing with the make-up and prosthetics needed for Mark to meet his fate.
**SPOILER WARNING: There are spoilers for Midsommar below.**
"I was actually quite fortunate, because I'd done a job with quite a lot of prosthetics about a year prior," Poulter told SYFY WIRE. "So a model of my head rather terrifyingly existed elsewhere already. And I think my head got flown in to Hungary where the prosthetics were being developed and then they were able to make the skin suit from that."
In the film, Mark wanders off for a rendezvous with a young woman from the film's mysterious Swedish community who has caught his eye. After disappearing, he returns in a different and deeply upsetting form, an experience that Poulter was able to wrap his head around only after a conversation with Aster.
"That was something that Ari kind of discussed with me," he admits. "I asked him about what the significance of Mark being skinned and worn like that is, and it's founded in large part in actual Norse mythology — it was a real-life practice at one time."
As unexpected as it seems in the film — at least during an audience's first viewing — Poulter indicates that the movie sets up his character's fate in the underlying mythology of this Horga community where these American characters find themselves.
"This concept of 'skinning the fool' is a game that is played by some of the younger Horgans early on in the story that applies to him because he does present himself as a fool from pretty early on," Poulter says. "So there is this idea that although that is obviously a very violent fate, you could make the argument that Mark kind of deserves that to an extent.
"You play the fool if you don't take other communities who really in the first instance only show you kindness," he continues. "And if you don't return that kindness and you are not open, then you pay for that. At least, that's the way I saw it."
Of course, one of the film's big themes is the clash of cultures that happens between the American characters and the Swedes — including children's games that might seem sick or twisted to domestic audiences. But ultimately, even Poulter acknowledged that Mark behaves so poorly that he earned whatever happened to him.
"I feel like there are a lot of people that see Mark's fate and feel like it's deserved," he says. "Even I think it would have been a travesty of justice if Mark had survived."
Midsommar is in theaters now.