There are some films out there that are best kept as mysteries until you’re sitting in the theater as the lights go down. Sometimes you need to skip the trailer, ignore clips and plot synopses, and just let the story unfold as it should on the big screen. Park Chan-wook’s Stoker is one of these films. It’s not about major reveals and big twists, but rather than the movie centers more on characters, filmmaking and the finest details, than a sweeping, broad story.
As a result, it’s a challenge to discuss Stoker with any depth without giving too much away, and one that I faced personally when I had the chance to sit down one-on-one with star Matthew Goode to talk about the film back in late January. So now that the film has had its first weekend in limited release, I’d love to share our spoiler-laden conversation with all of you.
Check out our extended conversation below, in which Goode discusses the damaged psychology of Uncle Charlie, his secret obsession, why he hates watching horror films, and how he reflects on Zack Snyder’s Watchmen four years later.
FINAL SPOILER WARNING: This is your last chance to not be spoiled about Stoker. Read at your own risk!
So, I’ve got to say...one of the things that I actually, just kind of to kick things off, one of the things that I really loved about this movie is that it doesn’t play in black and white. There’s a lot up for kind of viewer interpretation and kind of it doesn’t necessarily answer every question. It leaves it up for the audience to understand.
I like that too.
But one thing I’m kind of curious about your performance in that sense is when you’re approaching the material and approaching the character, do you make your own interpretations of what everything means or are you going to Wentworth Miller and going to Director Park and kind of...
I never met Wentworth. I’d like to talk with him about this, and I thought he would come to Sundance, it would have been… maybe I’ll meet him at the premiere. Whenever you read something you have your own interpretation. And I think it was one of those scripts that you can, you know, you can really see the film in your mind’s eye a little bit and you can certainly, you know it’s been directed by Director Park. You see that adds another layer of sort of macabre visuals into it for you. But we talked about it extensively. It was my kind of rehearsal, because I don’t really like getting it up on its feet straight away, especially because normally you rehearse in a hotel room or something, or a place that isn’t the set, so certainly it just feels weird taking your rehearsal into somewhere, it’s all different. So, I talked extensively with Director Park. He’s just a joy to collaborate with really, and through those discussions actually were little bits and ideas that went into the film and you kind of think, it’s good for one’s own self-respect as an actor. You kind of think, you have good days at the office. And I had a few good days at the office, so it was nice. But then obviously, the film finishes and you go, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” I’m plagued with self-doubt! The thing for us, because the film thematically as a whole, is about the idea of bad blood, in a sense. It’s about this genetic predisposition in the family blood line to do these...
Monstrous, monstrous things.
...monstrous, naughty things. And obviously there is because obviously the way that the father tries to keep her power in drive, by stopping her from doing worse things by hunting, which is odd, but we get it. We really get it! But so, for me, you have to make your characters have the layers, so it’s sort of three dimensional, so it’s not... but as you said, which I think is bang on, it lives with you afterward...
I saw it on Tuesday and I’m still coming down.
We explored him fully, but there’s less stuff left out. So there’s a mystery and we just wanted...there’s pivotal scene for me, that was the flashback with Dermott [Mulroney] and you know…cause there’s bits of it we see. He’s a kind of man-child. It’s a coming of age drama for Mia’s character and yet at the same time there’s this guy who’s locked as an eight-year-old, you know, in some senses he’s been completely detached. I mean, they’re all detached, because we don’t really know where it’s set or what time it is and that’s why it plays as a kind of wonderful, gothic fairy tale, a fucked up fairy tale. But I wanted the childlike innocence to this character who is not innocent in any which way and at the same time he is and then he kind of has his first kiss with Nicole [Kidman]’s character and so that was part of the sort of cycle of the investigation of where he might be as a character, but in this wonderful operatic framework, it allowed us to be hopefully, quite subtle.