“Every person has a seed of evil inside,” acclaimed Korean filmmaker, Park Chan-wook, said through a translator at a recent press conference in Los Angeles for his new psychological thriller Stoker. Director Park’s work can justifiably be referred to as film art in that it looks like a moving painting throughout. Deliciously disturbing and tauntingly twisted, the story penned by Wentworth Miller, in what is his first produced screenplay, follows a young girl as her life is suddenly thrust into chaos after she tragically loses her father on her eighteenth birthday. Discovering that she has a mysterious uncle that she never knew anything about, her initial distrust is quickly replaced by an indescribable fascination. His arrival, she is soon to discover, is no coincidence and together they share an undeniable bond.
Having to shoot twice as fast as he does in Korea, Director Park managed to successfully make an impeccably magnificent film despite a language barrier. Communicating his needs to his cast in his own unique way, the result is a brilliant work of art. “I want the story to be interpreted in as many ways as possible,” he said of the film that he believes is not just about evil, but how evil is contagious.
“During filming Director Park said that this is a movie about bad blood,” Nicole Kidman explained. Of the script, Kidman added, “I had to read the script a few times to understand it, the context and layers. I saw the film for the first time at Sundance and I was like ‘wow’!” Adding with a laugh, “It was a good wow! I’m amazed, you just don’t see that kind of filmmaking. It’s hard to do and not be pretentious.” Taking on the role in part because of wanting to work with Director Park and in part because of the fantastic script, Kidman also felt for her character. “She’s a person who’s really just desperate for love. Ever since she had this baby, she hasn’t wanted to be held or touched.” Of working with a director that doesn’t speak English, Kidman explained though certain words can get lost in translation, that she was able to clarify with Director Park exactly what he needed from her. “You should be able to make a film with no dialogue and tell a story. I think Director Park should do that next,” she said with a smile.
Mia Wasikowska says that she, too, wanted to work with Director Park as well as the rest of the cast. Of the script, “I thought it was amazing the first time I read it. India was a very different character than I’d ever played before.” Of the fantastic music that is, in and of itself, another character in the film, Wasikowska added, “Music is another element that gives us one more indication of the tone.”
Matthew Goode explained portraying Uncle Charlie. “The role was psychologically brilliant.” Of what he referred to as a stealthy dance in playing such an evil character, he spoke of the psychological investigation that he had to do to prepare for the role. “I just wanted to make him the f**ked up Peter Pan that he is.”
When producer Michael Costigan first received a call from a top agent offering him a new script, he wasn’t told anything about the writer and the agent wouldn’t email it. Costigan had to go and pick it up at her office. He soon discovered that the nom de plume being used, Ted Foulke, was really actor Wentworth Miller, star of the hit show Prison Break. Miller felt that no one would take a script seriously that was written by an actor, so he had given his dog, Foulke, the writing credit.
As the first screenplay that Miller had ever written, he’d asked his agent to keep his identity a secret. After working on it for eight years, success was finally within reach. The script ended up on the 2010 Black List (prestigious unofficial list of the best unproduced films available) and the rest, as they say, is history.
The brilliant cast also includes Dermot Mulroney, Phyllis Somerville and Jacki Weaver. This film was produced by Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and Michael Costigan.
This film opens March 1st.