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Interview: Matthew Goode of 'Stoker'

'Is there a possible predisposition in the bloodline to do ... naughty things?'

By James Rocchi Feb 22, 2013 1:12PM

In Chan-Wook Park's 'Stoker," Matthew Goode is Uncle Charlie -- the long-lost family member who comes home for his brother's funeral to comfort his sister-in-law (Nicole Kidman) and niece (Mia Wasikowska) in their time of loss. But is that all he's doing? We spoke with Goode in Los Angeles about director Park's vision, gothic evil, playing a manipulator and his co-stars.  


MSN Movies: And I asked Ms. Wasikowska this, but when you read the script -- it's a terrific script by Wentworth Miller -- but of course it can't convey director Park's sense of color, of light, of camera movement. When you show up and watch him doing all those things even on the first day, is that when it hits you this is going to be amazingly special?


Matthew Goode: So many questions. Well, A) One is you're working with director Park, so knowing all his work, you know he's a master of what he does. B) The script is a great story, but you can't see all of his genius at the beginning or even when you're making it sometimes. We didn’t know that dissolve was going to happen with the hair brushing ... so there's imagery you can't possibly imagine. But ultimately at the same time his prodigious nature, we got like a big old file. We're like, "What's that, by the way? I bet that's my wardrobe planning." No.  It's every shot of the film meticulously drawn and in great, it's not like stickman or anything, in detail. And there's thousands of them. So in some ways his being so prepared makes you think, "Is there any room for me to sort of have a go on a journey and discover my character?" And then you realize that actually he's incredibly collaborative as well. He's got a lot of things going for him, director Park.


The great thing is that Uncle Charlie has this great combination of a million-dollar smile and a thousand-yard stare.


(Laughs) That's very well put, by the way. I haven't heard that today. That was good.

BING: Matthew Goode l Gothic


Right from the outset he's deeply charming and deeply intimidating. How do you play that kind of ambiguity? Doesn't it all come down to you?


Yeah -- "Are you nuts?" He's off-kilter, but I think that's one of many things which unsettle the viewer anyway, which is how we set it up. We're like, "Where is this place? What time is this taking place in?" And we don’t know those kinds of things. They're all ambiguities, which set it up. We start with a funeral, and the way that he shoots things is sort of operatic and yet it's disconcerting how subtle -- well I hope my performance is quite subtle, but how sort of glacially cool it is. There's nothing wasted. Every shot, every detail, every bit of like sound, he turns the sound up. He unsettles. He makes ... he secretes a sort of suspense from nowhere. It eats at you.


Yeah. In an age where gothic means "I have too much eyeliner on" it's nice to see something that actually lives up to those ideas.


(Laughs) Yeah, it has some of this  like lost Southern sensibility, and I think it really helps you don’t know what is certain. And I think the name, people are like, "Why did they call it 'Stoker'?" It's like well, 'cause it kind of creates, you know, you think of Bram Stoker. It's not a vampiric drama, by the way or anything like that, but it does conjure up images of the hunter and the hunted. And there is I suppose ... thematically the story is about what director Park calls "bad blood," and where does evil come from, nature vs. nurture. Is there a possible predisposition in the bloodline to do ... naughty things?


You get to work briefly with a remarkably well-known American actor, whose presence in the film is a bit of a surprise but...


Dermot Mulroney, I know!


Well, I was trying to not blow it for people, but now you have, Mr. Goode. But how much of a pleasure was it to work with him?


You were going to say Dermot? No, I thought you were going to say Nicole for a second. She's more Australian really.


I was not going to mention Mr. Mulroney.


Oh, okay.


 To preserve the surprise for the audience...


Listen, both the girls on that poster there were a total joy. I mean total joy. It's not someone you expect to work with someone who's -- I've known of (Kidman) for 20 years and watched all of her work. Suddenly they're in the room, and you're like, "God, I hope you're nice." And she is. You don't get let down. She works incredibly hard. And for me being a dad, having my daughter there and watching someone who has a proper big family and see them balance it out and see them off-set as well as on-set, which is where you find that she's the most generous lady in the world, was a joy. And Mia Wasikowska also, she's like my little sister. She's amazing.


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