The first English-language feature of director Park, “Stoker” introduces India Stoker (Wasikowska) when she loses her beloved father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) ) in a tragic auto accident on her 18th birthday, her quiet life on the family’s secluded estate is suddenly shattered. Exquisitely sensitive, India’s exhibits an impassive demeanor which masks the deep feelings and heightened senses that only her father understood.
India finds herself drawn to her father’s long-lost brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), who unexpectedly arrives for the funeral and decides to stay on with her and her emotionally unstable mother, Evie (Nicole Kidman). While India initially mistrusts her charming but mysterious uncle, he fascinates her as well, and she begins to realize how much they have in common.
As Charlie reveals himself to her little by little, India becomes increasingly infatuated with her charismatic relative and comes to realize that his arrival is no coincidence. With her uncle to guide her, she is about to fulfill her unusual destiny.
Academy Award® winner Nicole Kidman plays Evie, India’s fragile, affection-starved mother. “I never expected that I would have the good fortune to be working with an actor of Nicole’s caliber on my first English language film,” says Park. “But this dream-like situation became a reality. Her presence had a synergizing effect and I was able to expand the role of Evie and shape a character that comes across as almost a fairytale stepmother. But in fact, she is the character in the film with the most humanity.”
A glance at Kidman’s extensive resume reveals that she has a long history of signing on to ambitious projects helmed by auteur directors, from Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) and Gus Van Sant (To Die For) to John Cameron Mitchell (Rabbit Hole). “I thought the combination of Director Park with this material was really exciting,” she says. “He is a filmmaker who is particularly revered amongst other filmmakers. I love supporting artists who have a unique way of expressing themselves and are willing to take chances. I certainly have done many mainstream movies, but to be able support filmmakers who embrace a different way of looking at the world is my greatest joy as an actor.”
Although Park used a translator to communicate with the actors on set, he felt that Kidman instinctively understood what he needed from her. “Nicole can modulate the tone and quality of her performance at will,” the director says. “I would say only a few key words and she would readily adjust her performance. She is an actor who truly showed me what being a pro is all about.”
Stoker’s eerie elegance and complex relationships made the film an irresistible proposition for the actress. “There’s nothing generic about it,” Kidman says. “It’s got an unusual cadence to the dialogue. The pacing is not typical. When I read the script, I was unsure of what was going to happen next, which I liked.”
The desperate, needy Evie was a character Kidman felt she hadn’t played before. “We start the film with her husband’s funeral,” she says. “It’s obvious the mother-daughter relationship is already fraught with resentment and anger. She’s in a very raw state when we meet her, and Charlie fills the void.
“Matthew is compellingly attractive as Charlie,” she adds. “That’s really such a good thing for Uncle Charlie to be. You believe that Evie would desire him and want his attention. He’s the first person for a long time to give her attention. And then Matthew, of course, has such talent. I expect to see him become a huge star.”
“Stoker” will open in cinemas on March 1 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.