It would be inaccurate to say that Todd Haynes broke through with his 2015 film, Carol, because, after all, Haynes has been directing movies since the ’80s. And he received his first Academy Award nomination (for Best Original Screenplay) for 2002’s Far From Heaven. But it is true that Carol was huge for Haynes as a filmmaker. To the point that everyone would be asking, well, what’s next?
The maybe surprising answer wound up being Wonderstruck. Based on the YA novel by Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck follows a young boy in 1977 who’s recently lost his hearing named Ben (Oakes Fegley) as he tries to solve the mystery of who his father is – a mystery that leads him from Minnesota to New York City. Wonderstruck is also the story of Rose, a young girl in 1927 (who is also deaf, played by Millicent Simmonds) who is searching for her mother in New York City. Along the way, there are clues of how these stories intersect, before finally hitting a convergence.
Ahead, Haynes explains why he wanted to go in a different direction by making Wonderstruck. Also, as a frequent past collaborator with Harvey Weinstein and current collaborator with Amazon Studios, Haynes comments on the allegations of sexual assault against Weinstein and others that are plaguing the movie industry.
With both Wonderstruck and Carol, you have a way of capturing New York. And I know a lot of Carol was filed in Ohio…
Well, they’re quite different movies, but they both call upon very specific moments in New York history. It’s just a lot of research, because whether you’re evoking New York, or setting New York and your backdrop is Cincinnati, Ohio, or whether it’s New York itself of the ’20s and ’70s, it’s something you’re constructing. And so it requires a lot of research, a lot of specific points of view about what is the filter on the New York that you’re looking at, what is the cinematic language that you’re trying to evoke or the visual iconography. It was great to be in actual New York City for Wonderstruck and to have the privilege of shooting in the Museum of Natural History and the Queens Museum, and streets in Brooklyn that, probably, a couple weeks after we wrapped, were starting to become gentrified and forever changed. So getting those pieces on film and preserving them that way is pretty cool.