Millicent Simmonds of “Wonderstruck”

Posted on October 30, 2017 at 4:43 pm

“Wonderstruck,” based on the award-winning book by Brian Selznick, is the story of two deaf children, decades apart, who are both on their own in New York City and both end up hiding out at the Museum of Natural History. Selznick, who also wrote the screenplay, told me:

The picture story is set in 1927 at the end of the silent movie era. So I thought I could tell the story of Rose in 1927 as a black and white silent movie. We would think we’re watching it in silence because it’s 1927 but it would be revealed that we’re watching it like this because we’re watching it the way that the main character in that story experiences the world because she’s deaf. So we see the world the way she does. We hear the world the way she does.

Rose is played by a young deaf actress, Millicent Simmonds, who has a wonderfully expressive face.

He also told me that because a portion of the film is silent, they were able to use deaf actors to play hearing people:

I realized that with a silent section in our movie it gave us the opportunity to hire deaf actors to play hearing characters. Deaf actors were hired all the time in the silent movie era because they were so expressive. They knew how to tell a story without spoken language. And so we used six deaf actors as hearing people. We had these amazing days on the set with hearing actors, deaf actors, sign language interpreters. The rest of the cast, the crew and everybody worked together.

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