mia wasikowska & matthew goode

Mia Wasikowska & Matthew Goode star in ‘Stoker’

*It is truly encouraging to know that one of best films to open this year was “Broken City,” written by black writer Brian Tucker and now the engrossing, disturbing thriller “Stoker” was penned by Ted Foulke. Foulke is the pseudonym for Wentworth Miller, whom we all know from the TV series “Prison Break” and the film “The Human Stain.”

Because he believed no one would take an actor’s first screenplay seriously, Miller told his agent to submit the story under a pseudonym. The script eventually ended up on the 2010 Black List, the prestigious unofficial list of the best unproduced films available.

The Film Strip sat down recently to talk to “Stoker’s” two leads. Matthew Goode plays the shady, sinister uncle Charlie. Kicking off the interview, he was asked if it made him feel uneasy to be cast in a role symbolic of a demented charmer. Laughing, he says, “Typecast again!” On a more serious note, he continued with, “In some ways you can’t help but go, ‘I think I’m doing something right.’ I was lucky…It wasn’t offered by any stretch of the imagination, it was a process. It was a really great script. It comes down to the director’s taste I suppose and luckily on this occasion, he went with me.”

The duet between you and India was very impressive. What was that like?
MATTHEW GOODE: I hadn’t played the piano for twenty odd years so coming back into the fold of piano playing with a Phillip Glass piece was sort of unbelievably daunting because it’s so arpeggio. Luckily, I don’t have a bad sized hand so it wasn’t like I had to leap. It was hard work but it was really great working with Mia (Wasikowska). We learned about three quarters of it because it was so hard–too much going on with both hands. But we were able to fake some of that so he was always given the opportunity to shoot the whole thing from whichever angle.

How did you read Charlie? How did he see his relationship with India as daughter, lover, protégée?
It’s all about what director Park Chan-Wook called ‘bad blood’ and how in the family there is this bad blood line who do these acts. Charlie I thought, and my whole thing with him is he’s isolated. He’s lonely. It’s not a vampire film but there are things about it that are similar and the idea of it. He is trapped in the past for me and never really grew up. He must have heard his niece is like him. That for him is very powerful and he thinks—‘Someone like me, finally I’m not alone in the world.’ We didn’t seek to answer every question because an audience is intelligent and I think it gets very boring when this is concrete and with each kinds of emotions and these complex psychologies. It never got to the length of being a sexual relationship but you see no doubt there is a strong connection between sex and violence.

How involved was Tony Scott and did this lead into the Vatican for Ridley Scott?
Tony, God rest his soul, was not around and neither was Ridley. They were behind the scene but they weren’t on set.

When Mia Waskiowska enters the room, my first question to her was how did she see her weird relationship with Charlie?  “There’s a part of India that I understand,” she explains, “the more universal side of her; feelings of loneliness and desire that are more common to teenagers and anyone really and then there’s a mystery to me but you just go back to the basics of acting—imagining, pretending and thinking. The thing that I liked the most about reading the script is you sort of feel like she’s walking on this thin line and you’re not quite sure which way she’s gonna go, whether she’s gonna be a hero or antihero and that was cool to me because you don’t quite know who she is until the end. The dynamic between her and uncle Charlie? There’s a real connection there that is very foreign for her and something that I think she’s excited by and also fearful of. Again, you don’t quite know whose in control of that dynamic between the two of them, who’s the hunter and whose the hunted.

Do you feel like her bloodline has anything to do with the way she acted like she did?
That question is definitely raised but I think director Park put it really well when he said, ‘Rather than it be about bad blood and predisposition in the bloodline, rather it’s contagious,’ which I thought was really interesting. We don’t know what would have happened to India if uncle Charlie didn’t show up and I think that’s an interesting way of looking at it.

This film also delves into bullying. Was that a problem when you were going to school?
I guess that’s sort of a problem everywhere in different ways. There are all different forms of bullying but that’s definitely a problem for India and probably part of the reason why she’s so disconnected from people and her peers.

Did you ever encounter bullying when you were going to school?
Yeah, but not to this extreme extent. Everybody has his or her moments.

Tribeca Film Festival gearing up for 2013

One of the most comprehensive and diversified film festival ever held is that of the Tribeca Film Festival. The Tribeca Film Festival helps filmmakers reach the broadest possible audience, enabling the general public and international film community to experience the power of cinema and promote New York City as a major filmmaking center. It is also well known for supporting emerging and established directors.

Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center, to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture, the Festival brings the industry and community together around storytelling. The Tribeca Film Festival has screened more than 1,400 films from more than 80 countries since its first edition in 2002. Since inception, it has attracted an international audience of more than 4.0 million attendees and has generated an estimated $750 million in economic activity for New York City.

To keep up with Tribeca, visit the Tribeca Film Festival website at www.tribecafilm.com, and log in at http://www.tribecafilm.com/register/, where you can also subscribe to the Tribeca Newsletter. Advance tickets go on sale Monday, March 11 for the general public. All Festival packages and passes can be purchased online at www.tribecafilm.com/festival, or by telephone at (646) 502-5296 or toll free at (866) 941-FEST (3378).

Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at thefilmstrip@gmail.com