Wildlife Trailer

Even today, when a woman has an affair in the film, it’s often a punishable action, and that’s been the case for decades. Here, it’s just a mistake and it’s something she has to live with. She realizes it’s a mistake almost immediately. Is there a freedom in playing a character whose moral compass is off and doesn’t care. And why should we if she doesn’t?

Carey: Yeah, totally. And there’s a version of this film that could have been told today, and they did explore that. For budgetary reasons, it would have been so much easier to set it today, but there was something about that period when constraints were so much tighter on women, and what she does is that much more unacceptable, more out of the norm. But there is something so liberating about what she does in the film. I do think we excuse men all the time on screen for a multitude of things.

It’s interesting, my friend is on the show Barry on HBO with Bill Hader—his name is Rightor Doyle, he plays one of the acting class students—and we were talking about it the other day because Sarah Goldberg who plays Sally is such an incredible character but all there’s been all the discussion about her being unlikable and overly ambitious. And in some Q&A, someone brought up how unlikable Sally was as a character, and a writer on the show said “Barry murders people. How is she the unlikable one?” [laughs] It just speaks to that whole crazy issue that we have watching women on screen. So just that in itself is fun, to trash the idea of what a perfect woman should be. Women aren’t allowed to mess up.

At Cannes this year, we had a couple of journalists say “She’s such a terrible mother, isn’t she?” and I had to jump to her defense and say “Wait a minute. This is a week of her life; she’s been a perfect mother 14 years that precede this. Give her a break. People make mistakes.” It’s the 1960s; she has no idea if her husband is coming back; she has no qualifications because she left her career behind years ago. She has to find a way to live, so a lot of it is about survival as well. It’s been a really interesting to gauge people’s reactions.

In the early 1960s, gender roles were changing. And you always wonder when someone does a period film, what does this say about today? And I feel like we’re at another shifting in gender roles; it’s different, but it is gender related. As a result, this story feels so modern.

Carey: It totally. I think there still is that idea that women are expected to do everything in the home, and we take on the role of mother and wife, and it can be incredibly consuming and you can lose your identity as a result, and that’s certainly something Jeanette is going through: “Am I a person outside of this—these two roles in my life? Is there anything left of me, or am I just these two things to these two men?” It totally felt modern to me. Even watching it, it doesn’t suffer the curse of a period film where all you think about is the period. It’s stunning to look at, it’s beautifully shot, and they’ve done an amazing job with the production design and costumes, but you it’s not one of those glossy things where you get absorbed by the pretty costumes. It’s part of the characters, which takes so much thought and hard work from those crew members.

I couldn’t help but thing that if her husband had just taken the job back that he loses in the beginning or if he’d gotten another job, none of this would have happened, and she would have never gone through this. Do you think in the end, she’s happy she went through this experience?

Carey: She’s come back to some version of herself, in a way. The 1950s housewife mask that she put in became suffocating, so something had to happen. I imagine she hoped that it wouldn’t have to be this destructive and this upsetting, but ultimately she’s being honest and be honest with the people she loves. But before that, it’s all just keeping a lid on.

The film makes you remember that a child’s world is very small, so when something bad happens, it feels like the end of the world to them. Joe is trying so hard to hold things together, but he senses all of these things happening that he’s not supposed to see or hear. And we see most of this story from his perspective.

Carey: I think Ed Oxenbould has an incredibly hard job in the film, because there’s so much going on, and it would be easy as an actor to emote or respond or be reactive. But the truth of a 14-year-old boy is that you don’t, that you absorb it all and take it all in, and also try to keep a lid on things. I think he takes on a huge amount of responsibility to keep things stable, so part of his job, he feels, is to manage his parents. He doesn’t want to rock the boat in any way, and he’s doing everything he can to keep the peace.

We have these shots that go between Jake and I, and you see him just sitting in the middle trying to keep things calm, which is why when this guy in the Q&A called him “namby-pamby” doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t react to anything. He completely missed the point of how honest Ed’s work is because that’s the truth of what a kid like that would do. They would just be trying to keep things together, and that’s even more heartbreaking when this child has to take on the responsibility of the family’s survival, when Joe has to take on the mantle of keeping his family together. I think that’s all down to Paul and Ed putting the character together and the choices that Ed made to make it so truthful, because it could have been an easy part to go all over the map with, and he’s just so consistent and steady and honest and observing. He doesn’t do what could have been easy to do, which is react all over the place.

It’s hard to be that quiet center of the storm. It looks like you’re not doing anything but you absolutely are.

Carey: Yeah, completely agree.

It was wonderful to meet you. Best of luck with this.

Carey: Thank you.

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