Stoker Press Conference Highlights with Park Chan-wook, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska
Arriving in theaters this weekend is iconic Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook's English-language directorial debut, Stoker, an often macabre and darkly comedic thriller that stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska.
Written by Wentworth Miller ("Prison Break"), Stoker is a coming-of-age story that follows a teenage girl named India (Wasikowska), who is forced to deal with her own inner demons after a tragedy befalls her family on her 18th birthday. Conveniently, her very charismatic but mysterious long-lost Uncle Charlie (Goode) rides into town, sweeping both India and her attention-starved mother, Evelyn (Kidman), off their feet, revealing all kinds of twisted family secrets and bad blood amongst the trio.
During a recent press conference, we heard from director Park as well as Kidman, Goode and Wasikowska about their experiences collaborating on Stoker as well as what aspects of Miller's script attracted them to the project initially. The trio of co-stars also discussed some of their favorite moments from the film, director Park explained how he had to adapt to the faster production pace of Hollywood for the very first time on Stoker and much, much more about the intricacies of the film and director Park's vision for the film.
Read on for all the highlights from the Stoker press conference below, and make sure to check out the latest from director Park when it's released this Friday.
Question: Director Park, it's great to see your movie, which just played Sundance, and The Last Stand come out within a week of each other; how was your Hollywood experience, and have you seen Kim Jee-Woon's film yet?
Park Chan-wook: No, I haven't seen it; it's not been released in Korea yet, and ever since I arrived in America to promote Stoker, I haven't had time to go and see it in a theater either. And so the fact that I had to shoot twice as fast as I'm used to in Korea for Stoker was the most challenging thing about my Hollywood experience. The difference in Korea is that what I do is watch the playback of each take with all of the actors and spend a lot of time discussing each take with them.
I also use the process we call auto-assembly because I storyboard my entire film right at the beginning - even before pre-production ever begins - so that my vision is already laid out on the storyboard for everybody to see. That enables the on-set assembly person to cut together each take into a sequence and this enables a director to review the take within the context of the sequence of the scene. So not only do I look at the playback with the actors but I look at the on-set assembly footage with the sequences with my actors as well.
These are the reasons why I take twice as much time to shoot a film in Korea. Thinking back, I can remember on my first ever Korean film that I never used any playback or on-set assembly so all I had to do was to tell myself that making Stoker was just like making my first ever Korean-language film. After that, I felt right at home.
Question: For Matthew, Nicole and Mia, what was it about your characters that drew you to play them?
Nicole Kidman: For me, it was primarily the combination of the cast and the film being spearheaded by director Park; I knew his films and I had always wanted to work with him. Plus I thought the combination of this script with his direction would be really unusual. When I saw it for the first time at Sundance last week, I was like, "Wow!" which is a definitely great reaction to have (laughs).
Matthew Goode: Well, for me I had a slightly different experience; I've talked before about the fact that Colin vacated the role so I was very lucky to get cast in this movie. But as far as the actual character and wanting to do it, of course it was about director Park and these two beautiful ladies to my left; that's true. But the role was so psychologically interesting and I got to go on a little trip with it. It was confusing and brilliant and wonderful and all those things, and I went, "I'd like to be involved with this if it's all right," and luckily director Park said I could be, which was thrilling. Wouldn't it be amazing to have twice as much time with him to make a film? Why aren't we making more films in Korea? (laughs).
Mia Wasikowska: For me, it was the same thing- to work with director Park and this cast and the fact that India was a very different character to anything that I'd played before. I was excited about that.
Question: When you have a cast that speaks a different language than their director, how does the universal language of film and storytelling manifest itself, and does that create more interesting performances?
Matthew Goode: One of the first films I ever did was in Spanish and I don't speak Spanish and that's as hard as it's going to get, doing a film in a different language. But as far as with what voice do I listen in, it was really easy.
Nicole Kidman: There are times when you have to clarify certain things because obviously words can mean different things in other languages, and so a lot of times it would be me just wondering if this is exactly what he wants because in translation things can get lost so I was just very specific with him.
Park Chan-wook: Actors are professionals who deal with people's emotions and their thoughts so working with this very intelligent cast meant that sometimes I would only have to start speaking a word and these wonderful actors would immediately catch on to what I wanted them to portray and how I wanted them to act. I never really had any issues communicating with them.
Question: For the actors, could you talk about your first impressions when you read the script by Wentworth Miller, and is there a difference between a script written by an actor as opposed to a screenwriter, or is a good script just a good script?
Mia Wasikowska: You know, I think a good script is just a good script. I thought it was amazing the first time I read it, and I was instantly drawn into this world and these really complex characters and the mystery within all of them.
Nicole Kidman: I had to read it a couple of times to understand it just because it's got a lot of subtext and layers, so I wanted to absorb what the overall feeling of it was. I think the strength of director Park is his atmosphere; he creates incredible atmosphere, and this script relies heavily on the language of the images because there's not a lot of dialogue so the cinematic language of it has to be very strong. When I had a meeting with him, we talked about all of that, and it was extraordinary how detailed and precise he was in what he knew he wanted to say, and his use of color and sound and everything is all very specific and it's not by chance; that's something that fills in a lot in a script like this.
When we first met, director Park said to me about Mia and my relationship, "Ever since you've held this baby, this baby's never wanted to be held." That's an amazing way to start building the relationship of a mother and child because that's horrifying as a mother if your baby doesn't want to be held by you. That was fascinating to me.