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The Wife, adapted from the novel by Meg Welitzer, follows a wife who started to question her life choices as she travelled to Stockholm with her husband, where he is to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.
The film stars Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Harry Lloyd and Annie Stark. It is directed by Bjorn Runge from the adapted screenplay by Jane Anderson.
LRM Online sat down for a roundtable interview with four actors of the film, including Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater and Annie Starke.
The Wife is currently playing in theaters nationwide.
Read the transcript of the roundtable below.
What in particular drew each of you into this project for The Wife?
Christian Slater: I read the script. Thought it was amazing. I sat down with the producer Rosalie [Swedlin] and we had a meeting at the L’Ermitage Hotel. I was intrigued by the character of [Nathaniel] bone. I thought he was fine journalist guy had a lot of experiences doing interviews in the past. I tried to just collect whatever information I can remember from people I’ve met of your profession. [Laughs]
Annie Starke: I’ve been a fan of Jane Anderson. I voraciously read the script. I almost got tunnel vision I would say in reading it. I just really fell in love with the story and the complexity of it all. It’s also just the wonderful Joan Castleman.
Glenn Close: I usually get a really instant reaction to a script of the style of the writing. I think there’s a certain kind of writing that I would say is kind elegant. It leads a lot of room for an actor to move around in. I was also intrigued by [Joan]. There were a lot of questions I had. I thought it was new territory for me.
Jonathan Pryce: Money. [Laughs] It was a job. It’s central. I just really liked the script and it’s the kind of script you don’t get very often. It’s kind of script that it didn’t need endless rewrites. It was concise and economical. It had a complex story that would be that one would find interesting to find a way of telling me. The director, Bjorn [Runge], I saw two of his Swedish films and liked them very much. I also was very much looking forward to working with your Glenn [Close].
Christian Slater: Daybreak. That was the one movie that I’ve watched it from Bjorn. It was fantastic. Really. I think that was one that he wrote as well. It was beautifully shot and very interesting. Very different.
Jonathan Pryce: I was an ensemble piece as well.
Christian Slater: Yes, it was. That was so fascinating.
What challenges did you have in getting inside this role?
Glenn Close: I had to understand why she never left him. I thought that was the obvious thing. I was really afraid to make a movie that all the women would jump up and say, “Oh! Just leave him.” It was so much more complex than that. The exploration that we all did together around the table to answer that question really made, for me, ultimately a character that I could believe in and love.
For all four of you, have you read the book before?
Glenn Close: I can’t remember when I read the book.
Annie Starke: I read the script first. The book right after.
Is it very similar? Because I haven’t read the book.
Annie Starke: In the storyline, I think that book has a lot more sarcasm and cynicism. It’s a little funny.
Glenn Close: Ironic sense of humor.
Annie Starke: A lot of it.
Jonathan Pryce: I didn’t read the book. I still haven’t read the book, because I was more intent on making that script. Sometimes you can read around the subject too much and regret that you haven’t got certain things in a script. If the screenplay and the writer has done their work, then I don’t see why I should waste my time to read. [Laughs]
Glenn Close: I went into reading the book and knowing that it was different from a script right. It’s a good read.
Christian Slater: I haven’t read it either.
Annie Starke: I’ve read it on an airplane.
Christian Slater: You did? Okay.
Glenn Close: We are on the cover. You better read it.
Christian Slater: Are you? On the new printing?
Glenn Close: You can line up the books together with Jonathan’s eyes. [Laughs]
Christian Slater: Oh, that’s fun! That’s very nice. [Laughs] What a treat.
How does it feel to be on our side of the table as a journalist trying to pry answers from people?
Christian Slater: It’s a great thing about getting to step into somebody else’s shoes. Now I have nothing but compassion and respect for what you guys do and complete utter understanding. [Laughs] It’s nice. I feel much closer [Laughs]
Jonathan Pryce: Having seen his portrayal of a journalist. I’m still unsympathetic. [Laughs]
Glenn Close: Yes, what do you think? [Laughs]
Christian Slater: Very authentic.
Annie Starke: You channeled your Jim Acosta.
Christian Slater: That’s right! I’m a big fan,
Jonathan Pryce: We had a journalist in London, he was great. Really nice show business gentleman. He would become your friend. During the course of the interview, he’d be your friend. You trusted him. Then he wrote it all down.
Glenn Close: Daggers.
Christian Slater: I thought that was beautifully captured in the scene that I have with Glenn. [Whispers] Listen, you got to have somebody to talk to. Let me be your confidant. [Back to normal voice] Very, very sneaky, but understandable. This is a guy who wants to get to the bottom of a particular secret that’s going on in his family. I liked his relentless pursuit of the truth.
She got your back at the end on the Concord.
Christian Slater: It all comes around. Yeah.
For Glenn and Annie. If you were in Joan’s situation–how do you think you would react to all of what she was going through if you lived her life?
Annie Starke: That’s a really hard question, because I think you could say, “It would never be me.” I would never be in that situation. We’ve all been in situations that you never fathom finding yourselves in. Especially, when it comes to love. It makes you do some…..
Glenn Close: Rather some funky things. [Laughs]
Annie Starke: As a society, it’s just love. We still have no idea. We don’t understand it. What we do understand is its beauty, its complexity, and its an unrelenting ability to make even the smartest people really stupid. [Laughs]
Christian Slater: Well said. [Laughs]
Glenn Close: If I’ve lived Joan’s life, I think I do exactly what she did.
Annie Starke: I really don’t know because I like to think that I wouldn’t have that situation. Also at the time, it’s also the time in which our characters lived. Right now, living in the world that we are in right now. Personally speaking, I have a hard time believing that I would be in that situation. Had I been raised in the 1950s? Probably.
Christian Slater: Those circumstances. Those beliefs. Those surroundings.
Annie Starke: It’s a big infiltrator of your mind and your psyche. It’s who you are. Honestly, it’s really hard to answer that. But, probably.
Jonathan Pryce: It’s a very particular relationship. It’s not every woman. It’s not every man. It’s a particular relationship which came out with this bond that they made about writing. It’s difficult to talk about the film, because of the spoiler alert. We keep that under wraps for as long as possible until the story does. It’s hard to say. Would she react like this? This was a situation that drove Joan initially was complicity. It’s all your fault. [Laughs] I can fix it.
Glenn Close: You never in the film, the young Joan never really answered. You never say yes.
Christian Slater: It’s fascinating. The premise of the ideas of the stories in the book are Joan’s at that point. The two of you kind of work together in a partnership.
Annie Starke: It does become more second moment in their life where it just goes like that.
Glenn Close: I’ve been really gratified by talking to a lot of people in the last couple of days is that numerous people that said that they look at it as a love story.
Jonathan Pryce: I’m one of them. I really do. Yes, it’s about a couple of writers. One writer and a Nobel Prize. It’s a love story in it. It’s got all the complexities of every long term relationship possible. If the Nobel Prize had never come up–I think this would have contained.
Annie Starke: I also like just putting the ability to put yourself in what I have done that situation. It’s honestly what Joan is, a huge part of what makes Joan as Joan, her art and craft. That scene with Elizabeth McGovern when she’s told don’t do it. I mean that’s not only a dagger in the heart. She twisted it. In my mind, especially artists can absolutely relate. You have to do what you love. Writing to her is like breathing. It’s a huge part of what makes her curve. To be shut down as a woman, she did find a way though. She found a channel to create. Was it worth it? Yeah. As people might not understand, it was her way of, of living and her way of doing what she loves.
Glenn Close: Writing is her life.
Annie Starke: Writing is for her life.
How do you think the film resonates today with themes of the Me Too Movement, the role of women, the role of the little wife behind every great man? It’s just a little cut out. How do you think it resonates? And you made it a few years ago?
Glenn Close: When did we make it?
Jonathan Pryce: It was eighteen months ago when we finished.
Do you think right now is different than what you made it?
Glenn Close: Absolutely. Yeah, definitely. I think this movie fits right in there. I think the fact that it was called The Wife, based on a novel written by a woman and adapted by a woman. It was so hard to make that says something about the Me Too Movement and the need for it. We represent as well what I hope it continues to happen, which is two women writers, a woman composer, a woman editor, a woman costumer and many women producers who happened to be the best for this project. I think for Rosalie Swedlin, without her, it never would have been made. This also represents, which I hope, the kind of a collaboration that will go forward tonight. Hopefully, with the success of this movie that it will give people kind of a permission to go after movies that have these kinds of stories. Another thing, you probably heard it as well, people who say, “Oh, my God! This is the kind of movie that used to be made.” It gives you pause.
The Wife is currently playing in theaters nationwide.
Source: LRM Online