John Krasinski's co-screenwriters on the new horror thriller A Quiet Place say the actor/director insisted on casting a deaf actress in a pivotal role in the film. Co-starring his real-life wife Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place is making huge noise in its first weekend at the domestic box office, capturing $19 million on its way to what is expected to be a $46 million opening in its first three-day frame. As the films shifts its focus to audiences, it has already won over the critics, having earned a stellar 97 percent "fresh" rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
Set in the near future after an alien attack decimates the Earth, A Quiet Place contains almost no dialogue. The aliens in question, while blind, have hyper-sensitive hearing, and attack their prey in a violent manner when either humans or animals make sudden noises. Apart from the few words spoken in the film, a family of survivors (Krasinski and Blunt as the parents, and Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as their young children) must resort to sign language to communicate or experience a certain death.
Simmonds (Wonderstruck), who plays Krasinski and Blunt's deaf daughter in the film, as it turns out, is deaf in real life. In an interview with THR, co-scribes Scott Beck and Bryan Woods reveal that it was Krasinski who made a huge effort to make sure Simmonds was cast in the role. Beck says:
“We always had a deaf character in the script, but John really pushed for them to hire Millicent. She came to set and taught everyone sign language. It was really amazing and brought an extra depth to the film.”
Simmonds was no doubt an important addition to the cast, and Krasinski should be commended for taking strides in securing her role in the film. On top of bringing authenticity to the film – which not only employs signing throughout (and subtitles) and makes the deafness of her character a key part of the narrative – the inclusion of the actress draws attention to the struggles of the deaf, even in a world that is at its safest without sound.
On top of that, the fact that Krasinski, Beck and Woods have created a meaningful and original storyline with A Quiet Place – which gave a gifted actress like Simmonds an opportunity to shine – perhaps Hollywood will take a closer look at creating films that will incorporate more deaf performers, as well as more scripts with narratives surrounding deafness. It's been far too long since Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin created her stirring performance in Children of a Lesser God, and perhaps Simmonds' role in A Quiet Place is the wake-up call the entertainment business needs.
- A Quiet Place (2018) release date: Apr 06, 2018