Get to know the leads of Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Crimson Peak’ as they share on their characters and couple of fun stories from the set.
Although Crimson Peak also features Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston, it’s the women that drive this movie from start to end. Jessica Chastain plays uptight Lady Lucille Sharpe and MiaWasikowska plays Edith Cushing, a free spirited writer. Throughout the film to two are opposites of one another, especially evident in their experience while filming. The two revealed a lot about the behind the scenes experience and how they prepared for their roles. Their characters are unique from your typical female role in Hollywood. Lucille and Edith seem like they were pulled straight out of a Victorian novel or something Mary Shelley would’ve written. Their insights into their characters reveal a ton without giving away any spoilers. The two of them, especially Jessica, shared a couple of fun anecdotes that you’ll definitely want to read. There’s a ton of cool stuff in these interviews and you get to learn a lot about the films and the people who made it, but most importantly, you clearly see that Jessica and Mia are awesome. Check it out:
Edith Cushing starts off the film as an independent woman who wants to be a writer and then she falls in love and everything changes. Do the costumes say something about her as an endangered species like those little butterflies we keep seeing?
Mia Wasikowska: Yea, we had a really brilliant costume design by Kate Hawley and there was a lot of symbolism in the costumes, not only in the colors, but also the shapes. Guillermo and Kate always had this idea that Jessica’s character was like a moth and mine was like a butterfly so they always had the costumes with these sort of various sized wings. Then also the colors and the details. I think emotionally there was a progression and it sort of got more vulnerable, but I think Edith as a character, she starts off very sure of herself and really thinks she knows who she is and then she probably is a bit idealistic and naïve and because of that ends up in this sort of troubled romance that is continually not what she expected.
What was it like working with Tom Hiddleston again, this time under the direction of Guillermo del Toro?
Mia: It was great, it’s always really nice working with people that you know. There’s a level of comfort and he’s lovely and it was very different relationship for our characters on this film but it was really fun. He’s a very wonderful actor and he’s very devoted to his craft.
All of the characters experience some sort of love for one another. Which character did you sympathize for the most?
Mia: Maybe Charlie’s character. I also like Edith, but I played her so it’s probably biased. I think it’s easy to kind of lose your way a little bit when you’re in the blur of love and romance. I can sort of empathize with Edith, her father having died and being kind of vulnerable and being kind of yea, I’ll marry you and then being like what am I doing a few months later when she’s bound to a bed force fed porridge. Then also like Charlie’s character being the reliable, dependable dude who’s overlooked.
How much fun was it for you to do this?
Jessica Chastain: It wasn’t fun, I thought it was fun to work with Guillermo, Tom, Mia and everyone because I really love them and think they’re incredible but I really underestimated the toll that this character was going to take on me. I wanted to play Lucille, I was really excited to play her, and I love her when I see the film. When I finished I was supposed to go off and do another film and I left that film because I just had to take time off because I was just so depleted. Learning the piano, learning Chopin for someone who’s never played. There was nothing easy. There was never a day where it was like ah, this is a fun light day for Lucille. Everyday was so intense.
Would you think Lucille is the most evil person you’ve played in your whole life and does she have anything that’s redeeming about her?
Chastain: It’s hard to say that about a character you play because your job is really to defend your character, but she’s definitely the darkest character I’ve ever played. The reason I wanted to play her is because I want to understand why she does the things she does and it actually kind of broke my heart because I found that every act she commits in this movie is to try to give and to receive love. I think the true monsters are the parents of Thomas and Lucille. When she was a child her mom would get beaten by the father and Lucille would be the nurse maid to the mother and so taking care of the mother was an act of love. That was associated with suffering. With Thomas, when he would do something wrong, Lucille would take the punishment and she’d get caned, which is why she has scars all over herself. So a way of showing love to her brother was to be beaten. So Lucille has always connected love to some kind of pain or suffering and she can’t quite move through that.
This is a ghost story, basically, I was wondering, are there any ghost stories that you are familiar with or really scared you and stuck with you?
Chastain: Is the Exorcist a ghost story? Because that was, woah. I saw that when I was young and it really terrified me. I saw it way before I should’ve seen it and I remember being a little kid and being downstairs with my mom and she didn’t realize how scared I was getting and at one point I said can we turn it off? And then she goes no, we’re watching it, but you can go upstairs if you’d like. I’m like, I’m not going upstairs! That’s how that little girl got possessed! I remember crawling into a fetal position on the couch with a blanket over me and that was, and that and Jaws, and at that point I think my mom was like ok maybe she can’t handle these movies. But I really loved those movies. Those were the first ones that kind of took hold.
How did you bond with your co-stars Mia, Tom, and Charlie offset? Are there any specific anecdotes you can share there?
Chastain: What’s incredible is that we were all friends before we arrived to set. I had worked with Mia in Lawless, I had known Tom, he and I were friends. Mia had worked with Tom in I think Only Lovers Left Alive, so we all knew each other. We didn’t know Charlie and in the film his character is a bit of an outsider, from the three of us. So we showed up on set feeling very comfortable with one another. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of onset Shenanigans or partying because it was really exhausting and difficult what we were doing. I’m not someone that had birthday parties, I’m usually working, but on this one I was calling and skyping with my friends. I was just so sad from playing this woman that my favorite memory was I had twelve people from all over the United States fly to Toronto for the weekend. It was amazing. It was actually really, really special. They completely brought sunshine with them and Tom went out with us and we all went to eat dinner and have dance parties and we had karaoke and ping pong it was probably my favorite birthday I’ve ever had.
You also have The Martian coming this fall and I’m assuming that they were filmed relatively close to reach other. How did you transition from one to the other?
Chastain: What’s crazy to think about, and I will never do this again by choice is I filmed Crimson Peak at the same time as A Most Violent Year. It was crazy. So I was flying back and forth from New York to Toronto and I’d be in New York playing Anna who’s so open and sensual and earthy and even the way she talks it’s all vowels. She’s just fun to be, and then I go to Toronto and I have to play this uptight, wound up woman who doesn’t allow any vulnerability and love into her life. That was really tough because when I would show up on set I didn’t want to play Anna in the corset and everything. The first time it happened, that my dialect coach said hmm, you’re sounding a bit New York, when we were doing rehearsals for it and I said oh my gosh, how am I going to go back and forth because one character I just feel comfortable and the other one is really difficult to get a hold of. So I decorated my trailer with the most disturbing images I could find. There was a mood board that Kate, our costume designer, had and the production designer had all these inspirational pictures, that were “inspiring” for them, for what they were doing. I just pasted them everywhere. So every morning when I was going back and forth I would walk into the trailer and just go ugh, oh yea, ok, this is what I’m doing. That helped me decipher between the characters.
The film hits theaters this Friday.