Novels have proven great inspiration for movies, with countless stories from the page being adapted for the silver screen over the years. While books like Harry Potter and Twilight inspire massive franchises, books like Room have been adapted into Award winning films. John Crowley's The Goldfinch is hoping to be the latter category, recently debuting the drama at the Toronto International Film Festival.
I had the chance to see the movie and speak with the cast during my time at TIFF, pulling back the curtain to see a glimpse into adapting the best selling novel into a film. This includes Luke Wilson and Sarah Paulson, who play Theo's father Larry and stepmother Xandra respectively. Wilson had a particularly emotional and manic scene with young actor Oakes Fegley in the movie, and revealed to me that he actually tried to convince John Crowley to take the scene in another direction. As he put it:
I’m now remembering, I tried to talk John out of it, which was part of my process. I just thought ‘Maybe he doesn’t scream. Maybe he just stands there.’ Just because I felt like it was so insane to do and crazy to do. And the last thing he does before you find out that he dies. So my natural inclination whether it was self-preservation or what. But just mixing my own personal feelings with what I was trying to accomplish on the screen. I think I definitely let them mix, but I let my own insecurities get in there. I definitely tried to talk my way out of it.
Well, that'a surprise. Larry's confrontation with Theo is arguably the character's biggest scene in The Goldfinch, and one that Luke Wilson presumably could sink his teeth into as an actor. But he actually tried to get out of it, presumably because he didn't want to go to such a dark and abusive place.
In The Goldfinch, Theo is sent to live with Larry after his mother dies in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's an event that rocks the character's world, and sends him careening to a few different homes. While living with Larry and Xandra, his father spirals down a dark path, eventually taking it out on his son in one of the movie's many tense scenes.
The sequence required Luke Wilson to get to an extremely emotional place, and take it out on the young actor playing his son. Wilson was insecure about it, and eventually spoke to director John Crowley about his concerns.
You can see my conversation with Luke Wilson below, although be warned he does get into spoiler territory. So spoiler alert if you haven't seen The Goldfinch in theaters.
You can really tell how uncomfortable Luke Wilson was with his big confrontation with Theo. But like a true actor, he channeled those feelings into his performance, creating a more dynamic scene. Although he does wish things turned out better for his character, with Sarah Paulson joking about potential titles for a Larry/Xandra spinoff.