The Glass Castle – In theaters August 11.
Starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Max Greenfield, Sarah Snook, and Robin Bartlett. Based on the best-selling memoir by Jeannette Walls.
Chronicling the adventures of an eccentric, resilient and tight-knit family, THE GLASS CASTLE is a remarkable story of unconditional love. Oscar® winner Brie Larson brings Jeannette Walls’s best-selling memoir to life as a young woman who, influenced by the joyfully wild nature of her deeply dysfunctional father (Woody Harrelson), found the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
Lionsgate presents a Gil Netter/Lionsgate production. Screenplay by Destin Daniel Cretton & Andrew Lanham. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Find THE GLASS CASTLE ON LINE
THE GLASS CASTLE is an excellent adaptation. I am always very critical when it comes to one of my favorite books being adapted to film, and it is amazing what a great job the producers and artists did with the subject of Jeannette Wall’s life. There is always a chance that the film will leave out your favorite part of the story but everything important is detailed and flows correctly. I remember reading this book when it first came out and was struck by the honesty and my own disbelief at how much the kids had to deal with at such a young age. (You can read the synopsis above for the basic story.)
I admit to shedding a few tears and a few smiles. I am really glad that the story focused on Walls’ father since I remember him being the true character of the book. My husband went with me and he is still in awe of how wonderful the movie is and since he didn’t read the book, had no idea what to expect. Woody Harrelson did an amazing job with a role that came naturally to him. Naomi Watts really captured the “don’t care” attitude of her mother. Brie Larson was perfect as Jeannette. I honestly had to make sure that was her and not a young Jeannette.
Overall, this is a movie that everyone should enjoy. There are scenes of abuse and language that wouldn’t be suitable for young kids but mature teens will surely love this one. It should also spark several discussions about homelessness and mental health. Even though the life that Walls led isn’t normal, her will to survive and surpass will inspire you to become a better person.
BookHounds: Since you really focused on books a lot as a kid, what were your favorite books as a child?
Jeannette: Oh my goodness! As a child, my favorite book in the world was “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn.” I thought that if little Francie Nolan could get out of her tough situation, I could too– she wasn’t very popular, wasn’t very cute but she loved books. And I just love that book, I also love the great so breath [laughs]. I thought that the Nolan family was the one family who I read about, they had it as tough as we did. I also love non-fiction from a very early age. I’ve always loved just finding how things work.
BookHounds: One other thing that was kind of touched on the movie, when you were living in New York in a high-rise. It seemed like you had a little bit of imposter syndrome.
Jeannette: Not a little bit [laughs]. I had major imposter syndrome, I mean it was like I had everything I’d ever hoped for. You know I’m living in a fabulous Park Avenue apartment, and I had this great job going on television. I could buy whatever clothes or whatever food I wanted. Life was good, and there was something missing. Not only something missing but I mean like– my husband, the man who ended up being my second husband. He said, “Jeannette, every time I ask you about your past, you change the topic, why is that?” And I said, “I don’t really– you know I don’t want to tell you about it”, and he was really hurt but I just– I was convinced that if people knew the truth about me, that I would lose this little weird position that I’d worked so hard to carved out for myself. And so, I just didn’t want to tell anybody, and it was he who ultimately convinced me to tell the story. He said when I finally did come clean and told him about, my childhood did he thought was exaggerating then like, “Oh come on, you were homeless and your parents wouldn’t feed you.” And then, he met my mother, and he said, “Wow, Jeannette this is really complicated but you really should tell the story, that you carried around as a burden and whether or not you decide to publish it, just tell it.”
BookHounds: Did you feel more relieved once that got out?
Jeannette: I wrote the first version in six weeks and I spent five years with writing it. It was the most excruciating thing I’ve ever done in my life. I was a mess. I was sobbing, what know– you know red nose and snort slinging, I was practically in a fetal position under my desk, and I said John, I can’t live with this being out. But it was also the most cathartic thing I’ve ever done. But I didn’t think people would get it, I thought the book would sink. And I was completely unprepared for the way it’s been received and embraced and understood. And that’s just been so gratifying, I think that I didn’t expect people to get and they get it sometimes better than I do.
BookHounds I read it when it first came out. I am a memoir junkie.
Jeannette: Oh, yeah, yeah. I love memoirs. If somebody is willing to come clean about their life.
BookHounds: It must have been very difficult. Also, has your family adjusted to the book? Now that it is has been out awhile and the movie adaptation is finished?
Jeannette: Well, there would be just the book. I think they’ll still working on the movie [laughs]. That’s going to be intense, I mean this isn’t funny because, I’ve done this talks, sometimes some people say, “Well, Jeannette’s book has sold 5 million copies and it’s been translated into thirty languages, one of this awards and they say, and it’s being turned into a major motion picture with Brie Lawson. Oh my gosh! All of a sudden it’s real. It puts you into this different realm. So I don’t know how they are going to feel about that.
BookHounds: Brie Larson really seemed to capture you.
Jeannette: Oh my gosh! Was she phenomenal? And you know, she nailed it [laughs]. Yes, yes. It’s really funny. I mean, she’s phenomenally talented and perceptive. Well, that’s how I felt. I’m so fascinated to hear you say that because that was how I felt. And it was odd because it was so good, it didn’t feel odd. Which feels like a contradiction but, the thing about her is she’s astonishing and compassionate. I don’t think she got it on such a deep level. I never felt she’s making fun of me, or mimicking me or anything like that. It’s like she just, she got it, she got it. I felt that way about all the actors. That they just really loved their character. Even though their characters were all damaged, and a little off-centered, we all are, okay [laughs], we all are. But they understood.
BookHounds Woody Harrelson really brought out your father as well.
Jeannette: And you know, and when I saw Woody afterward, I said, “How did you get that.” I was watching this very emotional scene and I was sobbing and it was just– I was kind of a mess, and he was saying things, that my father had said that I hadn’t told them dad said. I was just flabbergasted and when I recovered, I said to him “I didn’t tell you those things, how did you know that?” And he said, he studied the tapes, he listens to what I said but then he stopped listening to the tape. He said, “I didn’t want to mimic your father or impersonate him, I want to become him.” And I thought he really did.
BookHounds: He really did.
Jeannette: He did! It was kind of scary for me. That was the one that freaks me out the most, was seeing him, you know died in ’94 so he’s been gone a long time. But I miss him, you know, he’s a crazy destructive drunk man but he loved me and made me feel loved. And so seeing him brought back to life in such a powerful way was, unsettling but beautiful, too.
BookHounds: The education he gave you, it seems like it was better than any school.
Jeannette: I completely agree with you. Now, it’s interesting because some people would argue and say, “Those kids should have been taken away from their parents,” but I was grateful to him. And I think when Woody got that, when he got the beauty of my father, he understood the damage as well but just the giving. I think what else he got that kind of blew me away, he understood the neediness. There are a couple of times just in his eyes, you can tell how insecure he is and how it is really needed the daughter, and you know and I didn’t write about that a lot. I guess, these actors are just, really smart [laugh].
BookHounds: It’s amazing.
Jeannette: If somebody who has no acting ability whatsoever like myself. I just– I was slack jawed watching them. But it wasn’t just the actress, you know I spent some time on the set just watching that army of people putting everything together. I thought of Hollywood as being glamorous, that they worked really hard. I have thought of Hollywood as being kind of shallow and superficial. And this whole experience is really been an eye opener for me because…
BookHounds: They’re really very dedicated to what they do.
Jeannette: The good ones are so dedicated. I mean, the time I spent on the set I thought I want to do this for a living, I don’t care if I just have to fetch coffee. There’s something magical going on, and the producers worked so well together, and it was like this beautiful Swiss clock or something, where all these moving parts, where everything just happened and magic was made. And people said, “most movies sound like this Jeannette”, they said, trust me. He just he has no ego. It’s the most fascinating thing to watch. He never lost his temper and, he made all these actors feel really safe and, even the kids just adored him. It was funny because you know they recreated my little shack from West Virginia, and a number of the kids were saying, “I want to live here.” because it was run down and beat up.
BookHounds Naomi Watts also did an amazing job with translating your mother
Jeannette: But the set design of this amazing woman. Sharon Seymour, she visited my mother, and they took pictures. I said you know my mother still lives in kind of semi-squalor, I hired somebody that clean out her place all the time but she still is kind of a hoarder.
BookHounds You can’t change people.
Jeannette: No. You just can’t change these people, you accept them for what they are and they’ve got beauty and you just can’t fight with them their whole, “Mom, you can’t live like this,” Well, she does. [laughs] It doesn’t work. So Sharon Seymour got it, and she’s taking pictures, and the house that she recreated even though it’s ugly and run-down, there are many beautiful things about it. There the glass in the windows and the plates were all mismatched and they were all beautiful. You know, and they used my mother artwork in the movie.
BookHounds: I had read that you had trouble borrowing it from her?
Jeannette: Well at first, she said, “I don’t want to upstage your movie,” and I thought like, this is one of mom’s phony excuses. Well, the truth is that she did know who she once was. And she was afraid they’d get some like, hideous looking character actor.
BookHounds Naomi Watts really nailed it.
Jeannette: She was amazing. So my mom calls up my sister, Lori, she was, “Who is this Naomi Watts character?” and Lori said, “She’s very beautiful and very talented.” Suddenly mom is on board [laughs].
BookHounds: That was great.
Jeannette: Yeah, it was funny. And Naomi called her and spoke her a number of times. And mom was name dropping, well my actor is trying to get my voice right, you know [laughs]. But then they also– the costume ladies, they visited me in Virginia. And they wanted to me describe my 80’s costume, like what you wore when you got married and what you wore to work? And I said, “Well not only can I describe it, I still have most of them upstairs.” [laughs].
Jeannette: So I run up and I come down with dusty 1980’s clothes, they look like they’re from dynasty or something. We’re dusting off the shoulder pads.
BookHounds Norma Kamali?
Jeannette: Yeah, no! Did you guess that?
BookHounds Oh, yes! No, no, not from the movie. That what I wore in the 80’s.
Jeannette: That was my wedding dress. My wedding was Norma Kamali and I still have it and Brie Larson wore it in the movie.
BookHounds Was it really?
Jeannette: And Norma Kamali, OMO! Yes! [laughs]. They took some of the shoulder pads out but it WAS Norma Kamali. And so these fashion ladies were sitting there and they are in their like 30’s or 20’s or something like that. Brie wore several of my outfits. And that’s one of the times I did freak out because you showed me this photograph that they took of– what was to be supposed of Brie Larson’s wedding, and it was exactly like one of my wedding photographs. They did the hair exactly like my wedding picture! This looks like my wedding picture, except instead of my face there is Brie Larson’s, and instead of my ex-husband’s, there is Matt. I think I screamed, I was like “ahh” [laughs], and absurdity and beauty of it all. This weird little, unhappy wedding that I had, now Brie Larson had to go through it too. She got it, and Max Greenfield was perfect because he was kind of a jerk but a likable jerk– I just thought everybody nailed it.
Thank you so much to LIONSGATE And JEANNETTE WALLS for this opportunity.