What are the power dynamics between men and women that continue to bedevil us today? It’s a timeless but also very timely subject that THE WIFE explores. In this interview the cast Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Björn Runge (director) and Jane Anderson (screenwriter)
“This isn’t an easy black-and-white story,” says Glenn Close. “Ultimately, it’s about power, the power that Joan gives up and finally reclaims. I think it's hard for us to imagine what it was like to be in that world where women weren't expected to achieve high things the way men were.” Joan may be part of the generation of our mothers and grandmothers, but her struggles with creativity, motherhood, and fulfillment ring out clearly to us today.
“She has the soul of an artist,” says Close, “the curiosity, the focus, the wildly fertile imagination. But her lack of confidence was part of the cultural climate. In working out Joan’s emotional journey with Jane and Björn, we were very, very clear that Joan is not a passive victim and doesn’t see herself as one. It’s much more complicated and subtle.”
For Anderson, the casting of Glenn Close was a huge coup for the production and added a sense of grace and levity to the portrayal of a fascinating woman.
“The character of Joan Castleman is a deeply contained, elegant and shy woman who has taken the back seat to her brilliant husband,” she says. “Who better to play that kind of role and to give it all the texture and all the subtext that you need than someone like Glenn Close, who is just very naturally an elegant, wickedly smart actress?
For Swedish director, Björn Runge, one of the big draws of the story was the intense relationships among the various characters.
“I could see the chamber drama within the story, the small private character drama about a mother and a father and a son within the broader scale. How do you make chamber drama cinematic? Casting is the key. Finding actors who have an “emotional ticket” to the universe of the script, and then trusting the actors’ instincts.
Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce were not only perfect in their roles—they were a good match for each other. Actors always need support from each other. As a director with such great actors to work with, it's my job to take care of their "acting-energy" in the best way, to create an atmosphere where they are free to be free.”
For Pryce, the shoot supported great work from all the actors.
“Glenn was in first so I joined knowing I’d be working with her. I’ve always liked her as an actor; we’re both the same age and we can both draw on very similar life experiences, long relationships, and there’s not a lot that has to be said between us. We both understand the needs of the characters and the film, and it’s really good to work with someone who is that dedicated and intense about their work.”
Using the example of the climactic argument between Joan and Joe in their Stockholm hotel room, Pryce describes the alchemy among actors, script, director, and camera:
“It’s an intimate scene in a closed space, but it doesn’t feel static because the hand-held camera is always moving. The camera was the third actor in the scene. Apart from a little general blocking, there was nothing staged about our performances; it was exciting because you just did it, and you knew the cameraman would find you. You didn’t accommodate the camera. I think I actually surprised Glenn with my anger in that scene.
As Joe, I was very frustrated by her attack, and she wasn’t expecting that degree of rage. It was a pivotal moment—his realization that he absolutely did need her. He did love her. He couldn’t do without her.”
So much talent marshalled to tell a story has yielded a film to admire, according to the Castlemans’ creator, Meg Wolitzer:
“I’m very excited for people to see this film. Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce do such a superb job at not only conveying the dance of marriage, the compromises made, the agonies lived through, and the familiarity of two people who have known each other intimately for a very long time, but they also address some fundamental, pressing questions about men, women and power.”
Joan Castleman (Glenn Close) is a highly intelligent and still-striking beauty - the perfect devoted wife. Forty years spent sacrificing her own talent, dreams and ambitions to fan the flames of her charismatic husband Joe (Jonathan Pryce) and his skyrocketing literary career. Ignoring his infidelities and excuses because of his "art" with grace and humor.
Their fateful pact has built a marriage upon uneven compromises and Joan's reached her breaking point. On the eve of Joe's Nobel Prize for Literature, the crown jewel in a spectacular body of work, Joan's coup de grace is to confront the biggest sacrifice of her life and secret of his career.
The Wife | Official Trailer HD (2018)
Starring: Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce, Christian Slater, Max Irons, Harry Lloyd, Annie Starke, Elizabeth McGovern
Directed by: Björn Runge
Screenplay by: Jane Anderson
Based on the Book by: Meg Wolitzer
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