Stoker Press Conference Highlights with Park Chan-wook, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska
Question: For Mia and Nicole, there's a scene where Evie finally confronts India, which is very powerful. Could you each talk about shooting that scene?
Nicole Kidman: That's a really intense scene, and I love that scene because it's so unusual. I remember reading it, and I never expected it to end with that line of, "I can't wait to watch life tear you apart." From where it starts to where it ends, that's an amazing monologue. To make that scene, which is because of the way director Park shoots (you know, really intense and close up), we did it a number of different ways, but we shot it in one shot, which is fantastic as an actor to not be cut up and edited. It gets to play out that way, and I was very grateful that he had the vote of confidence in me to be able to do it because it's a really weird scene.
Mia Wasikowska: It's a pretty amazing scene and very scary to be on the receiving end of, too (laughs).
Park Chan-wook: That scene is a very important scene for Evie's (Kidman) character. In the original Wentworth Miller script the monologue ends with, "I can't wait until life tears you apart." But during the preparation period Nicole and I agreed to bring some other aspects to this character in that Evie's not just an oppressive, pathetic mother. Deep down inside she actually loves her daughter very much, but in seeing this great seed of evil flowering within her daughter, Evie feels this raw aggression. And so after this long monologue of cursing her own daughter, she is actually surprised at how she can be so aggressive towards her own daughter and says to India, "Who are you? Aren't you supposed to love me?" This is something that came out of these conversations with Nicole during rehearsal, and in fact, it was also a line of dialogue that Nicole came up with during rehearsals.
Nicole Kidman: It goes back to what director Park originally said to me, which is that her own child doesn't love her and she doesn't understand why; she doesn't feel that she knows her own child, and that's a terrifying premise. But then to say to your own child, "Who are you?" - that's interesting to me; that's a fascinating sort of dynamic to explore.
Question: For Mia and Matthew, when you're portraying characters that do some incredibly evil things, do you as an actor have to find a way to relate to, understand and like these characters, and if so, how do you do that?
Mia Wasikowska: I've often found on the films that have a more serious nature, the more goofy and silly it becomes, that in-between stuff seems almost out of necessity to counter the intensity of the other scenes and material. I felt like we were pretty good at that.
Matthew Goode: Yeah, this movie is sort of a psychological investigation because otherwise it wouldn't have a point; it certainly wouldn't be the kind of film I'd want to make, not that any of us believe in censoring our film or anything like that. But overall I just want it to make sense because Charlie's been away on holiday so in that sense, everyone is detached; they're all so completely away from anywhere, so much so that we don't know where it is or what time period it is really. It was fascinating to peel back the layers as it was happening because I think Charlie quite likes watching it unfold and he's very good at being on his own.
I think I just wanted to make him a little bit like the fucked up Peter Pan that he is really because it's a coming-of-age story for India. But really, how held back he is? So we have to bring it all together and make it three-dimensional I suppose, and that was really the challenge here.
Question: The sound design is compelling, and then there's the odd dynamic going on between all the characters and the chemistry and sometimes lack thereof. What were your impressions the first time you saw it, and how do you think it fits in compared to other films in this genre?
Nicole Kidman: Well, I'm not sure what genre it fits into; it's hard to define it. I was amazed at the filmmaking because you don't see that kind of filmmaking that often. But then a lot of the stuff I hadn't seen because I'm not in it, too. But this sort of detailed filmmaking is one, hard to do and not have it end up being pretentious and two, to have it tell the story, which is what you're taught- that cinema is the language of images and you really should be able to make a film with no dialogue and tell a story. I think director Park should do that next (laughs).
Question: For Mia and Matthew, can you elaborate on your pivotal piano duet scene? How did the two of you approach shooting that intensely emotional scene?
Mia Wasikowska: I really liked it because I felt like I didn't have to do much (laughs); we had playback going and it's such an intense and amazing piece. I think we listened to it all day and the rest of the crew was wilting just a little more each time we replayed it. But I was like, "Yeah! Again!" because when the music is there, I almost don't have to do much except surrender to it and then all the feeling and emotion I felt was in the piece.
Matthew Goode: We were able to play good little sections, which meant we were able to give director Park options to shoot from behind, and I think it's always nice to be able to see everything in a scene like that because I think we all know the language of film; we all know that when you see somebody playing something, you're like, "Well, they're not playing that," and then he's able to show you that they are. It's kind of fucking with the audience in a new way- it's quite nice (laughs).
People talk about chemistry, but I just loved Mia and Nicole because you never know how it's going to work out no matter how good the script is or how much of a genius your director is. I think that's one of the reasons that doing the piano scene really worked because there was an element of trust because we're not very good. (To Mia) You're better than I was. You're just in it, aren't you? It's all of that, really was a ruse (laughs).
Park Chan-wook: When the DVD comes out, and if you watch the film multiple times, you'll be amazed to find two things. First is how much of the actual playing of the piano was done by Matthew and Mia, and secondly, not only that, but how much acting was going on there as well. They weren't only trying to focus on getting their fingers right; at the same time, they were perfectly encapsulating the emotion of these characters during those moments.
Matthew Goode: Thanks, boss (laughs).
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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