Ruth Wilson at the European Premiere of The Little Stranger in Light House Cinema

#Interview: Scannain Talks The Little Stranger with Ruth Wilson

British actor Ruth Wilson was in Dublin last week for the European premiere of his latest film, The Little Stranger, at Light House Cinema.

The Little Stranger is directed by Lenny Abrahamson and written by Lucinda Coxon, based on the novel of same name by Sarah Waters. Will Poulter plays Roderick Ayres, a disfigured Royal Air Force veteran, who has inherited the 18th century Hundred Halls, where he lives with his mother (Charlotte Rampling) and sister (Ruth Wilson). The film follows Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) the son of a housemaid, who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country doctor. During the long hot summer of 1948, he is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall, where his mother once worked.  The Hall has been home to the Ayres family for more than two centuries.  But it is now in decline and its inhabitants are haunted by something more ominous than a dying way of life.  When he takes on his new patient, Faraday has no idea how closely, and how terrifyingly, the family’s story is about to become entwined with his own.

The Little Stranger is produced by Potboiler Productions’ Gail Egan (The Constant Gardener) and Andrea Calderwood (The Last King of Scotland), and Element Pictures’ Ed Guiney (Room). It is executive produced by Cameron McCracken for Pathé, Daniel Battsek for Film4, Andrew Lowe for Element Pictures, Celine Haddad for Screen Ireland / Fís Éireann, and Tim O’Shea for Ingenious.

Scannain caught up with Wilson on the red carpet.

Charlotte Rampling as "Mrs. Ayres" and Ruth Wilson as “Caroline Ayres” in director Lenny Abrahamson’s THE LITTLE STRANGER, a Focus Features release. Credit: Nicola Dove / Focus Features
Charlotte Rampling as “Mrs. Ayres” and Ruth Wilson as “Caroline Ayres” in director Lenny Abrahamson’s THE LITTLE STRANGER, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Nicola Dove / Focus Features

Your character has the most agency in the film. You have the strongest character arc…

She does have a journey in it. It was interesting. She’s quite a complex character and I partly feel like a lot of the characters in this piece don’t really know what they want or who there are. They are sort of finding it as the piece goes on. I think that Caroline eventually says what she wants and that’s when it’s stamped out. Also what is great is that people have picked up on the patriarchy theme.

What did you learn about the character of Caroline?

I asked Sarah Waters about it as I wanted a bit of back-story because on the page it is all through Faraday’s eyes, she is seen through his eyes. He is the protagonist in the novel and it’s all about his subjective view of who this woman is. And he fetishes her. He looks at her legs, he looks at her body. It is pretty grim actually, in the way that he really observes her. So it was interesting. I had to pull away from that and kind of find an objective version of that, but also what he might look at. I asked Sarah about her past. Where has Caroline been prior to this? She was at war. She was a WREN. She would have been amongst women. She would have had freedom, a taste of freedom. She would have not been within the constraints of her hierarchical breeding. She would have been out of class and they all would have had a singular purpose. And I think being around women would have been really interesting and suddenly she’s thrust back into the world that she lived in growing up. And forced into a relationship and burdened by the pressures of her family, but also this relationship. And that happens more often than not. It has happened for years, women or men getting into relationships that they are not really that keen on. It’s society or it’s convenient. “Maybe I should, he’s not a bad guy…” and actually she says no and that’s amazing.

Do you see the tides shifting? Are you getting better scripts?

I think so. I think tides are shifting, but I think it’s going to take a few years. I think that tides are shifting and there’s already amazing women out there as screenwriters or directors or elsewhere behind the camera. So they are getting more opportunities now. They are being listened to more. And the work is being accepted more. So yes it is changing. It’s just going to be another few years before we really feel the change.