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Destin Daniel Cretton's The Glass Castle gets quite a bit right in its story about Jeannette Walls' harsh upbringing, but nothing in the film comes close to the performances delivered by the endlessly talented cast. Even the movie's most junior actors like Ella Anderson and Chandler Head turn in phenomenal work, which is not the easiest task for a young performer. I recently had the chance to ask Cretton how he managed to get such strong performances out of such young actors, and he explained that it was a combination of their raw talent and good on-set mentorship from the film's more seasoned stars. Cretton elaborated:
I think a lot of their performances are, I mean it definitely has to do with them and their own ability to empathize and think about these characters, but I think it also has a lot to do with the other actors. Woody and Brie and Naomi really became mentors to these younger actors and helped create and environment where they just felt free to perform and do things that they did.
As far as mentors go within the world of acting, you would be hard pressed to find better options than Woody Harrelson, Brie Larson and Naomi Watts. Not only is Larson coming off of a fresh Oscar win from 2016 for her work on Room, but The Glass Castle also reunites her with Destin Daniel Cretton, who actually turned her into a bonafide star with their collaboration on Short Term 12. If nothing else, that shows that Cretton knows how to work with young up-and-comers to deliver the best possible work.
Then there's Woody Harrelson, who, even in the face of the movie's other amazing performances, pretty much carries The Glass Castle on his shoulders. Although Harrelson told me in a separate interview that he doesn't think about awards consideration when working on a film such as this, it's hard to shake the sense that he could potentially receive his third Oscar-nomination (and first ever win) for his work as Rex Walls in this movie. If you're a young actor looking for inspiration and guidance, this is a good source.
Take a closer look at my chat with Destin Daniel Cretton below to see what he had to say about getting such great performances out of The Glass Castle's youngest actors.
The last few years have seen various unexpectedly great performances from younger actors in a wide range of genres. From Talitha and Gabriel Bateman in Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out, to Sunny Pawar in last year's Lion, child actors are continuously showing their worth on the silver screen and turning in some truly fantastic work. The kids in The Glass Castle are the latest in that long line, and their contributions are arguably some of the best that we have seen in a long time.