You don’t know it yet, but you have a crush on Mia Wasikowska. In Park Chan-wook’s latest, Stoker (review), Wasikowska plays a petulant teenager who transforms into a full-fledged woman by the time the credits roll – and she’s hypnotic.
We spoke with her earlier today in New York.
Dread Central: What’s your take on your character India and her relationship with her Uncle, Charlie, in the film?
Mia Wasikowska: Well, there’s a part of her that I understand, the more universal side of her, feelings of loneliness and desire that are more common with teenagers. But there’s also a part of her that’s a mystery to me. So, you just go back to the basics of acting of imagining and pretending and thinking. The thing that I liked the most about reading the script is that she’s walking a thin line and you’re not sure which direction she’s going in…whether she’s going to be a hero or an anti-hero. And that was cool for me because you don’t quite know who she is until the end. And the dynamic between her and Charlie, I think it was the first time, as an isolated person, she experienced the feeling of somebody really knowing her. There’s a connection there that’s very foreign to her that she’s excited by but also fearful of. You don’t really know who is the hunter and who is the hunted.
DC: Do you think her bloodline had something to do with her actions?
MW: That question is definitely raised but I thought Director Park put it well when he said that it’s not really about bad blood or predisposition, but more that violence is contagious. I thought that was really interesting because you don’t know what would have happened if Uncle Charlie hadn’t shown up. I always thought that was a good way of looking at it.
DC: India is such a quiet character. Was it hard mainly relying on your facial expressions to convey so much emotion at times?
MW: It’s possibly a little riskier. It’s hard to be as sure of yourself when there isn’t that much dialogue. You have to know what they’re thinking at any given moment and how they’re feeling because the words can’t really express that.
DC: What were the differences in terms of working with a very Korean filmmaker?
MW: Well, I don’t know if the differences are because he’s Korean or because he’s just him. I guess the most obvious difference is how much of the film was storyboarded which I really enjoyed. It was pretty amazing to be this well-prepared. In rehearsals we would open the folder of storyboards and he would explain how he was going to shoot it. It was great to have it already there and then we could discuss and collaborate with him.
DC: Had you seen his work before taking the role?
MW: No, I had heard of him and I had heard of OLDBOY but I hadn’t seen it. When I signed on I did a marathon.
DC: And you were never the same again, I’m sure.
MW: [Laughs] Never the same.
DC: Can you talk a little bit about working with Nicole Kidman, especially during the Mommy Dearest scene?
MW: Yeah, luckily our relationship was the polar opposite in real life. She was so warm and kind and nice to me which was really wonderful. Coming from Australia I’ve always looked up to her and she’s one of the first Australian actresses to really transcend working in Australia and doing a whole international career. It was really great.
DC: Were you surprised how sexually charged some of the scenes were when you saw them? It seems like this role could open up some other avenues for you. I was surprised because you’re kind of sexy in the movie towards the end and I wasn’t expecting that.
MW: I don’t know in terms of opportunities, maybe. I was always happy with the piano scene. It’s very intense and basically like a love scene and I was really happy, because we filmed it over a day and it was cut up, and you’re never quite sure if the intensity has translated.
DC: I remember going to the set…
MW: Oh yes, I remember that.
DC: We just met briefly, but it seemed like you were wearing contacts at the time. Were you wearing contacts the entire film?
MW: I was, yeah.
DC: So that must have been difficult to work through…
MW: Yeah, it was great for the character because Director Park wanted me to have a strong link, like physically, to Nicole and Matthew. They both had blue eyes and we decided that I’d have blue eyes as well. And when Matthew was cast as Charlie it was decided I’d have brown hair like him. But yeah, I’m bad at eyes so every morning, depending on how good it was, it was like a half hour process. It was a pain. I’m just really bad at the contacts!
DC: Why did [Uncle Charlie] he always send her shoes every year?
MW: It explains something about his character, an obsessive thing in him, to send her shoes every year on her birthday that fit her every year. And it’s also symbolic when he brings, on her eighteenth birthday, high heels instead of saddle shoes. It symbolizes her moving from girl to woman. There’s a saying in Korea, which Director Park told me. It translates to something like, “Don’t give someone shoes or they’ll run away.” I think that’s quite nice, especially for this.
Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Dermot Mulroney, Phyllis Somerville, and Alden Ehrenreich star in the film directed by Park Chan-wook. Look for Stoker in theatres on March 1st, 2013.
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