Jeannette Walls is an author and a journalist most known for her gossip columns on MSNBC.com. She had written for Esquire, USA Today, and New York magazine. Eventually she transitioned to writing, first part-time and then full time in 2007. Her first book Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip came out in 2000, but it was her memoir The Glass Castle that really took off and prompted her to move to full time writing. Now her memoir The Glass Castle is coming to the big screen.
Screen Rant got a chance to talk with Jeannette Walls on press day, where we discussed which stories did not make it to the screen, how the kids in the movie were able to create such incredible performances, and how surreal it was to see her life being brought to life on screen.
Obviously the book has more stories in it, but is there any one of the stories that you wanted on screen, but couldn’t quite make it in?
Jeannette Walls: You know, Destin is so much smarter than I am and he told me which scenes he was using and why and there were a couple of ones where I was like, “Oh! You’re going to cut that?” He shot a scene that was phenomenal and he didn’t put it in the end product and I saw it and I went, “Destin, that would be the best film ever. I mean, that scene would be the best in most movies. You can’t possibly cut that.” And he told me why he cut it and I was like, “Oh!”
Which one was it?
Jeannette Walls: It was the kids riding in the back of the U-Haul. And he was just so smart about where it would have placed. It would have broken up the story. He had this brilliant explanation and I was like, “Oh. He’s smarter than I am. I’m just not going to question him.”
Well someone briefly touched on the Cheetah story. The Cheetah story is briefly touched on, but we don’t get to see it.
Jeannette Walls: He was very smart about that. He was very smart about including details that he couldn’t get into the movie and when I was watching I was thinking, “Dang. So that is how he handled that.” You know, he telescoped a couple of scenes. He slipped some stuff in. The man was really smart. A number of people asked me why I didn’t write the screenplay. Basically, I’m not as good as he is. [laughs]
[laughs] An amazing answer. One thing that I loved about this film were the kids. They were phenomenal.
Jeannette Walls: The kids! They were amazing!
I almost forgot that I was watching…
Jeannette Walls: That they were actors.
That they were actors. Exactly!
Jeannette Walls: I know. Again, Destin is so smart. He took the kids out on outings and they went to the Expo’s Game. And they along with Naomi and Woody would climb a tree and went to the park. They picnicked. And they felt like a family and people around Montreal while it was being shot told me that everyone thought they were this big weird redheaded family and they were just going to the Apple Center all the time. And they felt safe together. And Destin was really smart about giving people this safe space and they lived in this wacky, rundown house. The set director told me that she wanted to make it an ugly shack falling down on them but, at the same time, it had to be beautiful because my mother was an artist. And these kids would be skipping around announcing, “I love living here. I want to live here for the rest of my life.” It was joyful. And the kids just gave these performances. Little Ella Anderson I asked her, “How did you know? How did you know those complicated emotions?” And these kids, they will stun you and that’s one of the things I hope I learned. Kids are smarter than you realize.
Yeah. I agree. Last question I have for you is I heard that the set was playful but, when they were shooting, it was obviously intense. How was it for you? Was it surrealistic almost reliving these moments?
Jeannette Walls: Totally! It was bizarre. And I thought I had come to turns with my past. I had written my story. And then I saw it and I had a meltdown. I was like, Oh my gosh! There were a couple of times where I was sobbing and Brie Larson comes out and gives me a hug and it was kind of weird because she looks just like me. [laughs] But it was never bad. It was emotional, but never unpleasant and never weird because everything was done with such respect for my feelings and for the truth.
- The Glass Castle (2017) release date: Aug 11, 2017