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Interview: Taissa Farmiga and Crispin Glover on the Mystery and Complex Characters of We Have Always Lived in the Castle

Title card for We Have Always Lived In The Castle

Sometimes you watch a movie and you just have so many questions, and that was We Have Always Lived in the Castle for me. A movie filled with complicated characters and a mysterious town, it seemed as if there wasn’t really anyone we could trust within the story.

In my review, I talked about how I was conflicted between what I thought I was supposed to support and what I actually did. I understood Charles Blackwood (Sebastian Stan) and his desire to keep the family running in a certain way because Merricat (Taissa Farmiga) was burying their belongings around the house.

Merricat is the kind of character who fears many things surrounding her because of the circumstances she finds herself in. Her father was poisoned and killed, her sister refuses to leave the house, and Merricat’s anxieties overtake her as she has to go into a town who hates her family since no one else in her family will go get the things they need. So her burying their goods in the yard comes from her “witchcraft,” taking articles of value and giving them to the earth so they will protect her because, in Merricat’s mind, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

When I sat down with Taissa Farmiga herself and brought this up, she explained why her character felt the need to hide things and explore her emotions in her own way.

“If you have something in excess and you see someone who’s uncomfortable with themselves and they’re trying to sort out who they are, and he’s just trying to put them in boxes. He’s trying to put them in corners like ‘this is your role, this is who you are.’ So I say bury all the coins you want but make a treasure map.”

But in talking about in We Have Always Lived in the Castle, you also have to talk about the novel. Slightly different from the film, Farmiga shared what drew her to the project in the first place.

“That’s how, from when I first read the script to the many times I’ve read the book in between reading the script and filming the movie, was just that I couldn’t comprehend it, I wanted to keep dissecting it.”

Then again, Taissa Farmiga has always been a part of interesting projects. From this to American Horror Story and beyond, she tends to work with amazing casts and beautiful stories. So, I asked her what it was like to work with so many legends while still, arguably, new to the game.

“I think I’ve just been incredibly lucky. My second job, my first TV show, I got to work opposite Jessica Lange. And by episode 5, I was having a one on one scene with her and I was so nervous I was going to forget my dialogue. But, I remember just watching her and I literally forgot what I was supposed to say because I was enamored.”

From there, I got to sit down with Crispin Glover, who plays Uncle Julian in the film, to talk about how the movie’s trailer makes it seem as if it’s suspenseful, but while watching the movie and reading the novel, you realize it’s just a mystery.

“It’s operates much more as a mystery. I actually like the trailer in that it feels more like a suspense, almost more action. It’s a good trailer but it’s true, it’s different from what the film and the novel operate on. Neither the novel nor the film are suspense; it is a mystery—a genuine mystery.”

Bringing up Charles Blackwood again, it is clear that Glover also understands the motives of Charles. He’s the kind of character who focused his energy on protecting the family fortune because yes, he’s greedy, but also, from a logical standpoint, he’s looking at all the money they need to survive scattered around the yard for absolutely no good reason. When we discussed Charles Blackwood and how, in the grand scheme of the story, he seems to be the only logical one, Glover return the same sentiment I did about the character.

“It sounds materialistic, in a way, but it makes sense to not bury valuable things.”

But then Glover went on further to talk about the psychology of the characters and how they’re all different from how we, as the audience, would instantly perceive them, especially regards to his Uncle Julian. Uncle Julian is a tortured man who was poisoned and left to die so, when he survives, he focuses his coping on storytelling while confined to a wheelchair, just trying to write the story of his brother and ignoring all else.

“There’s definitely a strange coping mechanism in him. It’s interesting, Shirley Jackson, the psychology of all of the characters, actually, in a certain way, the cousin is the least complex of the psyhcologies. He’s more straightforward, and you can actually pretty easily see where’s he’s coming from. It’s much more difficult, and I’d say it’s also true in the novel, that Uncle Julian and the sisters, their structural archetypes are different from what they might seem to be on the surface level.”

We Have Always Lived In The Castle is available now on digital. Make sure to watch Shirley Jackson’s famed novel come to life in a beautiful way!

(image: Further Films)

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Rachel is an I, Tonya stan who used to have a poster of Frank Sinatra on her wall as a kid. She loves superheroes, weird musicals, and to cry in the shower over songs from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. She is Leslie Knope and she's okay with that. At least she gets to live in New York City though!

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