Slender Man, the elongated internet boogeyman that became a viral sensation, will be haunting your screens this December. Seasoned creature performer Javier Botet tells STACK why he was the perfect choice for the role. 

Javier Botet is literally a slender man. Standing two metres tall and weighing 56 kilos, the lanky Spanish actor has a genetic disorder known as Marfan Syndrome, which affects the body’s connective tissue, giving him exceptionally long limbs and fingers.

Consequently, he has become a go-to actor when horror movies require a spindly apparition or monster, and has given moviegoers nightmares in films like REC, It, The Conjuring 2 and Mama.

Botet has a lot in common with US performer Doug Jones, who has forged a similar career with films like The Shape of Water and Hellboy.

“I love Doug,” says Botet when STACK asks if the two have ever compared notes. “I knew him before I was working out of Spain. When I did the Spanish horror movie REC, the Americans did a remake called Quarantine and they tried to get me to play the role in America, which was ultimately played by Doug Jones.

“We finally met while making Crimson Peak and became friends. This summer we’ve been working on Star Trek: Discovery, and we keep in touch on Facebook. A lot of people compare us and our work and we’re happy sharing the monster roles.”

Javier Botet as Mama

Botet’s latest nightmarish character is one he was perhaps destined to play – Slender Man. Conceived by Eric Knudsen (aka Victor Surge) as part of an online competition to create a faux paranormal photograph, this rangy boogeyman quickly went viral and has since become the online equivalent of an urban legend.

“Somebody once told me I would be the perfect guy to play the role of Slender Man, and I said ‘Who is Slender Man?’ So I started researching and paying attention. I was thinking if somebody one day wanted to make a movie, I wanted to play the character because I am perfect for the role.”

Botet finally got the chance to bring Slender Man to life in the eponymous horror-thriller, which sees the mythical phantom haunting a group of friends in a small Massachusetts town.

“Slender Man is like a blank paper,” he offers. “That’s the power of this character because it’s like something where you can put all your fears. I loved it because all the time I’ve been working in horror, I enjoy very much when something is only insinuated.

The cinema over the last years has shown a lot of the monster. I always love it when something is there, you feel that it’s there, but you can see only a few little seconds. People need the space to fill it with their own fears.”

Unlike some actors who play horror creatures and deliberately distance themselves from the cast to preserve the element of fear, Botet says he’s a more sociable type on set.

“I love to make jokes and feel comfortable with everyone. After all the hours in the makeup chair, you can’t be serious with the actors; that doesn’t work for me. But when they call action, everyone is very professional.”

From his resume of memorable monsters, Botet says that his two personal favourites are the terrifying Niña Medeiros from the REC franchise, and the title character of Mama.

“They are the two that are special to me. For everything that they gave me in my career, and all these special roles.”

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