M. Night Shyamalan has always been a director with a specific vision, and the Unbreakable trilogy is certainly no exception. Before superhero movies were a regular part of movie programming, Shyamalan put his spin on the genre, with a gritty and ultra-realistic twist on an origin story. While David Dunn rose as Philadelphia's superhero, so did Elijah Prince as the villainous Mr. Glass.
Samuel L. Jackson returned to the role of Elijah for the new movie Glass, which serves as a crossover film with 2016's Split. And he wasn't alone, as actress Charlayne Woodard also reprised her role as Elijah's mother, Mrs. Price. While you might assume Woodard has gotten quite old in the nearly two decades since the last movie, it turns out that she's not old enough to be Jakcon's mother. In fact, she's 5 years younger.
At the time Glass finally arrived in theaters to complete M. Night Shyamalan's trilogy, Charlayne Woodard is 65 years of age, while her onscreen son Samuel L. Jackson is 70. So while her character Mrs. Glass is a lady of a certain age, Woodard is actually much younger than she appears onscreen.
Charlayne Woodard’s age actually makes a great deal of sense if you did a re-watch of Unbreakable before Glass hit theaters. The original 2000 flick opens on an infant Elijah in 1961, including his young mother. Woodard plays that character in every appearance onscreen, with extensive old age makeup required to help her transform for the later parts of the flick.
Of course, the actress’ performance in both Unbreakable and Glass is likely why some audience members might not have realized Charlayne Woodard’s age, especially as she’s younger than the actor playing her son. She perfectly captures Mrs. Glass’ physicality and voice, and has done through throughout various points of the character's life.
When the twist ending of Split revealed that it was set in the same world as Unbreakable, moviegoers’ minds were blown. We were left to wonder which other characters might pop up in the inevitable threequel, considering the talent attached to both movies. Ultimately both Charlayne Woodard and Spencer Treat Clark reprised their roles from Unbreakable, operating as the supporting system behind protagonists David Dunn and Elijah Price. And although their loved ones became real-life nemeses as The Overseer and Mr. Glass, Joseph Dunn and Mrs. Glass remained cordial throughout the course of the movie.
Mrs. Price functioned as more than merely a tertiary character and source of exposition in Glass. Indeed, the supporting characters got plenty of time to shine, and helped to move the overall narrative forward until its multi-twist ending. Charlayne Woodard’s Mrs. Glass got plenty of juicy scenes to work with, and was prominently featured on the film's second trailer ahead of its eventual release.
Plenty of moviegoers have been able to see how Mrs. Price factors into the Unbreakable trilogy, as Glass has been at the top of the box office for the past few weeks. Despite suffering poor critical reception, it seems that enough moviegoers are invested in both Unbreakable and Split, and eager to see how M. Night Shyamalan creates his very own Avengers movie.
Spoilers ahead for Glass**. You've been warned!**
Ahead of Glass' release, it was unclear how exactly the supporting trio of characters would function in the film's story. Most of Glass was focused around the trio of leading men, and how Sarah Paulson's Ellie Staple attempted to enter their psyche and convince them they were in fact powerless. So why and how would M. Night Shyamalan use the likes of Mrs. Price, Casey Cooke, and Joseph Dunn?
The answer is: majorly. Throughout the course of Glass, you realize that the superpowered story also has its roots in realism, especially regarding how the institutionalization of the leading leading men is affecting their loved ones. Mrs. Price has been visiting Elijah in captivity since we last saw him in Unbreakable, and watched how her son's brilliant mind and strong spirit seemingly faded away.
Aside from giving Elijah some much needed humanity, Mrs. Price also came into the narrative of Glass in a major way in the film's set of twist endings. When The Beast and David Dunn finally came head to head in the last battle, Elijah finally got what was coming to him. It was revealed that Kevin's father died in the train crash that David was in, meaning it was Mr. Glass' fault that James McAvoy's character lost his father, suffered abuse from his mother, and eventually fractured his psyche into creating The Beast. And The Beast wasn't happy about this revelation.
He attacked Elijah in his rage, and the villain of the trilogy suffered fatal blows as his bones broke for the final time. Mrs. Price was forced to meet her worst nightmare, saying goodbye to her son. But she also got the last laugh, as she, Casey, and Joseph released the footage of the final conflict-- and revealed the truth to the world.
Throughout all of it, casual moviegoers likely had no idea that Elijah's mother was actually younger than he was. Charlayne Woodard brought an heir of wisdom and secret fierceness, which came out as Mrs. Price's understanding of her boy came to light. While she didn't want Elijah to be a murderous villain, she knew her son was something special. And as an actress, Woodard had to play multiple intentions and multiple ages throughout her tenure with the character.
While it might be surprising that Charlayne Woodard is playing Samuel L. Jackson's mother while being 5 years younger than the actor, it's not the only time that this type of casting has happened. Just last year Cher played Meryl Streep's mother in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, despite only having a 3 year difference. And Sally Field famously played Tom Hanks' mother in Forest Gump, with only 10 years between the two veteran actors.
Overall, Charlayne Woodard's age is just another reason to appreciate her performances in both Unbreakable and Glass. It's not easy to age with a character, but it's also not easy to have a character age differently than you.
Glass is in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.