Were you able to isolate yourself in preparation for Room?
I stayed at my house. I mean, it's not as bad as Room. But I feel like people think it's sooooo
traumatizing [to stay in] -- but, like, have you not stayed at home? Have you not felt the need to, like, not go anywhere for awhile? I don't have phone signal at home anyways, and I'm kind of a homebody, so it wasn't like a huge leap. Why don't I explore silence for more of my day than I do now?
There's a big difference between staying in for the weekend and being trapped inside a shed for seven years. I think.
Seven years was harder for me to understand. I spoke with the trauma specialist about that, about the effects of sexual abuse and the effects of being in a space like that, what that would do, and he was able to explain to me very beautifully that our brains are constantly shutting off awarenesses of things. So right now, to shut off, I wonder what people are doing out there or why people are honking in their cars, and it helps me to focus on this conversation or not think about a war that's happening how many countries over.
We can do that in bigger aspects of our lives. So say you're trapped in a room where, in order to survive and basically cope with the situation, your brain shuts off the part that would be constantly wondering or fighting to get out. It starts to accept the reality and sort of craft itself around that. The big piece I got from that was: none of the deep, emotional stuff in regards to the trauma of Room would be expressed while we were in Room. It wouldn't be until she's back at home and in a safe place where she's not constantly living in survival mode, where she'd be able to really take a step back and look at all of it and go, "Whoa, that happened to me?" And that's why it becomes more emotional in the second half.
Yeah, there's something grander in play when the movie segues out of the terror of being captured and into normalcy.
The movie is far more metaphorical than we can even touch upon. But I think Jack [Tremblay's] role, especially in the second half of the film, is no matter how hard Ma will try to be Joy and to be separate from Room and to kind of close the door on that and put it away, her son will always be a living, breathing, growing reminder of that place, and there is no escape from the pain of what happened in the past.
Is that something you connect to on a personal level?
The one I've been thinking about a lot is... I don't even want to know how many times I've auditioned for things. Like, I'm sure it's close to tens of thousands of auditions since I was seven until now. And if you look at my IMDb, I didn't get ten thousand jobs, so imagine all of those no's and how many times that really hurt, being told that I was too tall or I was too short or I didn't have blue eyes. All of these things that accumulated in me as a huge sense of pain and rejection, just constant, constant, constant everyday rejection.
When I saw how upset my sister was that when she didn't get into a college that she liked, it reminded me of that same sense of rejection. Of feeling like the place that you felt that you were supposed to go and the place you're going to be and the people you're going to be accepted by weren't accepting you. You feel a sense of displacement and loss. But now that I'm in a different place now in my life, I look back at all those nos and, whereas before I never wanted to think about it, because it hurt and made me feel self-doubt, feel like I couldn't go on anymore and maybe this is not what I'm supposed to do, now I look at all of them and I think, I am so grateful for every one of them. I want to get closer to them. I want to know about them more.
All of those pains, all of those times that it took me through some sort of dark night of the soul, are the reasons why I can do a Room, the reason why I can do a Short Term 12. If I was some person who had never experienced pain in their life, imagine how confusing it would be to play a dramatic role.
Did you at any point leading up to Room feel like, "I'm going to fucking own this movie!"
No, I didn't feel like that at all. I felt like humbled every day, of like, "I am not worthy of all that needs to be done in order to keep this thing together."
Well, if you're feeling too good about yourself, you have a Twitter account.
] I can always go back to that.
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Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment Editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian. Goodbye, wardrobe. Find him on Twitter @misterpatches.