Wonderstruck is based on the best-selling novel by Brian Selznick. In this groundbreaking tour de force, he sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.
Todd Haynes has always been known for his pastiche, particularly towards Douglas Sirkian melodramas of the 1950s. Taking a step back, the auteur has decided to glamorize and pay homage to a different master of melodrama–D.W. Griffith. Changing the locale from 1950s bright-eyed technicolor to the melos-driven monochrome of the 1920s, Haynes has transported himself into a different epoch of emotion, pathos, peripeteia, and other moments of melodrama fun.
And none of that melodrama would have been possible without the wonderfully emotive acting by Oakes Fegly and Jaden Michael, who become best of buds during their adventures at the American Museum of Natural History. The Knockturnal had the opportunity to catch up with the young actors to talk their new movie Wonderstuck.
The Knockturnal: So you guys seem pretty close. How much bonding was there before filming, and how much bonding was there after filming?
Oakes Fegley: Well, I met him in an audition, actually. They call it a chemistry test, to see how you perform with other actors. And we pretty much became friends after that audition. I mean, we both got the roles. And then, we just were friends since that.
The Knockturnal: In the movie, there’s a big emotional scene, with you guys in the museum. Talk about working up to that emotional scene for you guys.
Oakes Fegley: That was really fun to shoot.
The Knockturnal: Was it?
Oakes Fegley: Yeah. It was awesome.
Jaden Michael: I was thinking about all the crazy things that Jamie has gone through in his life, like, he comes from divorced parents. He probably really likes his dad, but he can’t hang out with him. And he loves his mom, but he can’t hang out with them at the same time. And I was also thinking about, he probably gets bullied in school, and how he probably doesn’t have many friends, and all of a sudden, his only friend is gone. And so, I was just thinking about all those things. And thinking about those things really got me into the feeling, “Wow, this kid has gone through some stuff.” And once we were ready to shoot that, I just kind of went, “Let that all out,” and try to make it feel as emotional as possible.
The Knockturnal: You had the challenge of losing your hearing in the film.
Oakes Fegley: Well, because he gets struck by lightning, he has some loss or trouble with that. After, a little ways into the movie, he becomes deaf. And then, because of that, there’s a switching point, where Ben just has a feeling inside that he’s not where he belongs. And that he needs to try to find his father. So, then, he gets on a bus and goes to New York City. And he then meets Jaime and everything, but it was really cool. But it was hard to become that deaf character, a little ways into the film, but also, not play that deaf character for the full film. So it was very different from any other experience I’ve ever had.
The Knockturnal: And you guys have such big, bright futures, but, ahead of you. What kind of projects do you wanna do in the future?
Jaden Michael: I wanna work with Kevin Spacey.
The Knockturnal: Kevin Spacey? Why Kevin Spacey?
Jaden Michael: I really like the guy, and I’ve always loved watching his films. And one of my favorite films is Unusual Suspects, and how it’s a comedy, but at the same time, you can feel the intensity, in how every single film that he does, if it’s a drama, a romance or a comedy, they all have this same kind of monotone kind of feeling, where … trying to make you feel very scared, but doesn’t it creep you out a little bit?
The Knockturnal: He’s showing off his range.
Jaden Michael: Yeah. No, but, I just love the guy. And I like how many different kinds of, kind of characters he can play. And I would love to learn from him and work with him.
The Knockturnal: Put it out there.
Jaden Michael: Yeah. I’d love to … Kevin, if you’re listenin’ …
The Knockturnal: Put it out there.
Jaden Michael: Please make it real!
Oakes Fegley: I just worked on a film with Robert DeNiro, but …
The Knockturnal: No big deal.
Jaden Michael: That was my first comedy. No big deal! Just, the Robert DeNiro.
Oakes Fegley: That was my first comedy, and I’d love to do more comedies. That was really fun, so, comedies are always fun. And also, just, any sort of film with new people is always cool.