Warning: Contains spoilers for X and Pearl.Ti West’s X is unusual since it’s Mia Goth who plays Pearl in X as well as the final girl Maxine — here’s the significance of her playing both characters. Mia Goth has since played Pearl in the prequel, Pearl, and will reprise her role as Maxine in the upcoming sequel MaXXXine. The Mia Goth X character is unrecognizable in her second role as the villainous Pearl, and there’s a fantastic thematic reason behind her taking on this role. Set in 1979, X follows a film crew who set out to make a pornographic movie on a secluded Texas farm. The group believes their adult film will lead to bigger opportunities for each of them, only for events to take a horrifying turn when their elderly hosts attack them during the night. X boasts an eclectic cast including Brittany Snow, Martin Henderson, and Scream 2022’s Jenna Ortega, but it’s Mia Goth who steals the show.


Horror movie veteran Mia Goth playing both the young adult film actor Maxine and the elderly Pearl is an unusual move, but one that pays off incredibly well. Far more than mere stunt casting, the Mia Goth X characters underscore the considerable similarities. X’s story juxtaposing sexual liberation and aging is perfectly reflected in Maxine’s career aspirations and Pearl’s regret over a wasted life. Despite their age gap and Pearl’s homicidal tendencies, the characters are essentially one and the same, with Pearl acting as a prediction of Maxine’s future. Mia Goth, who plays Pearl in X, has another movie as her younger character on the way. Therefore, there’s no better time to look back at both of her characters and why she plays them in X.

Related: X Movie Killer Backstory Explained

What The Director Has Said About X’s Double Casting

Mia Goth as Pearl standing over Maxine's bed in X

Most films would have simply cast different people, but horror director Ti West always knew he wanted the same actor to double for Maxine and Pearl. He explained (via Letterboxd) his reasoning, saying “I always thought of them as different characters but the same person.”. Indeed, the Mia Goth X character Pearl could almost be an older version of Maxine, considering both characters place great emphasis on their looks. Maxine is determined to achieve fame as an adult film actor, relying on her body and her youth to achieve greater self-worth.

Although she professes to be a star, Maxine shows little passion for her chosen career, using cocaine to get through the film shoot. She, along with her fellow crew members, educates the naïve Lorraine (Ortega) about the merits of expressing oneself through sex, gradually revealing her true desire – freedom, and acceptance. Mia Goth, who plays Pearl in X, makes both these characters work. X’s ending explains that she escaped an oppressive religious background, seeking sexual liberation to overcome an apparent internal struggle. Pearl shares this conflict, being attracted to the young film crew while condemning their behavior.

The Characters Share More Than Just An Actress

Maxine turning around and looking intently in X.

The elderly Pearl watches televised sermons preached by Maxine’s father, explicitly connecting the two characters. Whereas Maxine has grand ambitions to be loved, Pearl seeks adoration on a more intimate level. Yet, their basic desires are the same. Maxine craves something she may never achieve, evoking Pearl’s futile attempts to gain affection from the young film crew, and her reluctant husband. Pearl laments a youthfulness and desirability she has lost, and Maxine exhibits an unspoken fear that the same could happen to her. It makes sense to have the talented Mia Goth, who plays Pearl in X, portray two characters in the X cast who are reflections of one another. Pearl is haunted by a version of her younger self and so attempts to become Maxine by recreating what she has observed, ultimately climbing into bed with her.

Mia Goth playing both roles emphasizes how they are each confronting themselves. Goth’s variations on these scenes help define Pearl’s frustrations as she emulates a life she once had, creating a more empathetic portrayal. The duality of the roles conveys that Maxine killing Pearl is a rejection of a life she doesn’t want for herself. However, X’s ending shows that Maxine is still running from a life of repression and that her future is left wide open, setting up audiences for the upcoming MaXXXine movie. Ti West’s prequel, Pearl, went even further into their similarities, with Goth playing a youthful version of the villain in 1918.

Related: Why Pearl Is Releasing Just 6 Months After X

How Casting Mia Goth As Maxine & Pearl In X Improves The Movie

Mia Goth in X

Despite the Mia Goth X character Pearl making the actress/model nearly unrecognizable, their similarities bring an unsettling Uncanny Valley feel to the movie. Making Pearl and Maxine roughly the same character at different ages helps shape Maxine’s character arc, especially as she rejects Pearl’s fate in the end when she kills her. The double casting was intentional on Ti West’s part, as it enriches both characters and elevates X beyond its horror movie trappings.

X could have been about some young people trying to make pornography in a barn only to be hunted down by the farmhouse’s owners. However, West decided that X doesn’t need a real villain, and making Pearl and Maxine mirror images of one another helps draw the movie away from standard slasher paradigms. It brings in some much-needed thematic elements to the film like growing old and the power of ambition. It’s these themes that keep X afloat, and the movie wouldn’t have had the same quality without the double casting.

X Started A Ti West Mia Goth Trilogy

Mia Goth Maxxxine

Mia Goth, who played Pearl in X and Maxine, will be getting yet another movie, but this time surrounding her younger character, rather than Pearl, whose story was told in the Ti West prequel movie. MaXXXine will follow the titular star as she tries to make her way to stardom in 80s LA, through any means necessary. Pearl followed a similar storyline, however, it took place during World War I. What director Ti West has brought to the table is a Mia Goth trilogy.

X basically kickstarted a franchise going into 2023, with Mia Goth playing two spiritual generations of killers in the same film, despite neither character being related by blood. The prequel was filmed on the same set and released only six months after X, since the two movies were filmed back to back. MaXXXine is taking a little longer, but should hit the screens soon enough. Both X and Pearl were the surprise breakout hits of 2022, and MaXXXine should carry on the legacy. The Mia Goth trilogy is an exciting set of horror movies with a different take on the slasher genre, and X, with her dual roles, is the film that jump-started it all.

Next: Everything We Know About MaXXXine

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