Five Favorite Films

Ruth Wilson's Five Favorite Films

The star of Luther, The Affair, and this week's The Little Stranger watched a lot of inappropriate movies when she was young.

by | August 30, 2018 | Comments

Noam Galai/Getty Images
(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Fans of the acclaimed BBC crime drama Luther and the Showtime series The Affair are already well-acquainted with Ruth Wilson, the versatile British actress whose very first BBC drama, the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre, earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Since then, she’s appeared in both high-profile productions like Anna Karenina and Saving Mr. Banks and smaller films like I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, in addition to her extensive work on television.

This week, Wilson stars opposite Domhnall Gleeson in Room director Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger, a character-driven mystery drama flavored with a touch of the supernatural, based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Waters. She took some time to speak with RT about her Five Favorite Films, noting, “These are all gonna come from my childhood, basically, because I think that’s what defines what you watch.” What we got was a rather unique list — including one TV series — for any pre-teen, as well as some insight into Wilson’s new film and the ways in which her father and three brothers influenced her movie taste.

The Warriors (1979) 90%

The Warriors, only because it was such a brilliant… Well, actually, the reason why is because I did it as my first-ever stage play. We did a staged version of The Warriors, which is absurd, and it was, like, a lot of British kids running around hitting each other with polystyrene baseball bats. It was such a theatrical version of New York, of the gangs in New York, and it was visceral and sort of fun and energetic, and I loved it. I watched it when I was probably about 11, and kind of loved it.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) 97%

Another one is The Holy Grail because I love Monty Python, but also, I knew all the lines by heart. I used to watch it all the time as a kid. Lots of people prefer Life of Brian, but for some reason, I just love Holy Grail. You know, I’m a bit of a history buff, so I just loved all that stuff.

Twin Peaks 88%

OK, Twin Peaks, which isn’t a film, but a TV series. Again, I watched that as a kid, and I just thought it was so weird and wonderful and scary. I just didn’t get it, but I loved the music. It was so, sort of, haunting. I’m putting everything from literally the age of eight to about 12.

Dirty Dancing (1987) 68%

Dirty Dancing, because it was my first big romantic movie I watched. I was under age. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, really, but my cleaner gave it to me, and I loved it.

Schindler's List (1993) 97%

Schindler’s List. I remember, again, I was under age. It was all experiences I wasn’t really allowed to be having, you know. So, I went to watch Schindler’s List. My dad was like, “OK, we’re taking you to the movies. You have to watch this movie. It’s an important film to see.” The cinema was packed out, and I was probably about 12 or 13, and it was just incredibly moving and overwhelming for a 13-year-old to watch, and the visuals of the girl in red in this black-and-white world, things like that. It’s just really ingrained in me. I remember the experience of going to watch that with everyone, and being moved.

Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: That is a pretty interesting list for a young person to have…

Ruth Wilson: I was quite weird, I think, maybe. I was the youngest of four kids, so by the time I came along, my parents couldn’t be bothered with stopping me watching things I wasn’t allowed to watch. My brothers would watch something, and it was very hard to say no to me, so I would watch what my brothers were watching. I was kind of intrigued and interested in weird and wonderful things, you know? At a young age.

RT: All of your siblings were brothers?

Wilson: Yeah. Three older brothers. Might explain a bit of it. [laughs]

RT: You mentioned your father took you to see Schindler’s List. Was he also an influence on what you saw and what interested you?

Wilson: It’s interesting. So, my dad, he did himself use to go to cinema a lot when he was a kid. I think he loved the process of going to the cinema, really — the experience of that — and back in their generation, it was a weekly thing to do, or a family entertainment thing that they would do a lot. So we went with him quite a bit, yeah. But I’ve always loved the shared experience of being in a dark room watching these epic tales being told and being lost in the world of that make believe. That probably did come from him, yeah.

RT: You’re in this film The Little Stranger, which is based on a Sarah Waters novel. Did you read it beforehand, and if so, how did it influence the way you played the character onscreen?

Wilson: No. I read the script first, but it enticed me, and then I read the book, and there was lots of description in the book that wasn’t in the script, necessarily, about [my character] Caroline. It’s weird, because it’s through Faraday’s (Domhnall Gleeson) eyes in the book. You know, he’s the protagonist, and it’s through his rightly subjective view, so the way he visualizes Caroline is slightly fetishized in the book, and it’s kind of specific, and it’s sexualized. But it’s not about the curves of her body and the way she walks on daily walks. It’s kind of exaggerated, I think, perhaps in the book, or through his eyes, but I wanted to incorporate some of that into the character.

This is definitely not a glamorous aristocrat. She’s not someone who has men running around trying to hook up with her or marry her. She is definitely on the edge of being a spinster, and I think that had to come across, that she wasn’t comfortable in the skin of being a glamorous aristocrat. She’s practical, she’s bossy, she’s no-nonsense. Her mother sort of slightly despairs at the fact that she has a daughter who’s completely unglamorous and has no hope of getting a partner in life. I think that’s what I wanted to bring into it, so my physicality changed, and we had padding. I wore hip and bum padding, and I had sort of slightly more protruding teeth, which made me speak differently. It was about my physicality, really, in those dresses, that I just didn’t look comfortable in all those outfits. I much preferred my wooly jumpers and my big corduroy trousers. And my relationship with my dog — you know, with Gyp — who was my best friend there, so it’s a woman who’s a practical outdoors lady. That was in the book, and that’s what I tried to bring into the piece.

RT: Some of the events in the film are left up to interpretation, and it reminded me a bit of My Cousin Rachel. Rachel Weisz was reluctant to offer specific thoughts on the film’s mysteries, but I’m wondering if you have any personal take on some of the events in The Little Stranger.

Wilson: I don’t know. I might follow Rachel’s suggestion and say it’s up to the audience. I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest. I think [Caroline is] a very practical woman, so she would not want to believe supernatural goings on, but there’s something definitely odd at play, an energy at play that she couldn’t explain by the end, so I think it’s a bit of both. There is a supernatural element, but there’s something psychological, and there’s something unnerving about the people at the heart of this film, as well, and whether they have any responsibility in it. Kind of an energy beyond human control, I think.

The Little Stranger opens in limited release this Friday, August 31.

Tag Cloud

Ghostbusters BBC One Turner GLAAD Winners political drama Certified Fresh Holidays Marvel Studios Netflix TruTV CNN Holiday festival Box Office The CW TV worst movies harry potter See It Skip It twilight reviews BAFTA Tomatazos cults hispanic Anna Paquin robots toronto Disney Emmy Nominations chucky OneApp emmy awards LGBT miniseries Baby Yoda indiana jones teaser Women's History Month President FX Toys Arrowverse TNT Mudbound Cannes Disney Plus sitcom Marathons Marvel game of thrones Video Games Interview TV renewals Ovation Action Cartoon Network Reality Competition nbcuniversal DirecTV Apple TV Plus Opinion Animation Captain marvel Syfy Amazon Studios football sports Turner Classic Movies Comedy Lionsgate New York Comic Con cartoon Logo Film comedies Schedule elevated horror Freeform San Diego Comic-Con Premiere Dates E3 SundanceTV ABC Sundance RT21 screenings zombie GoT 45 Black History Month First Look VICE hollywood documentary Classic Film Columbia Pictures dramedy singing competition crime Dark Horse Comics dceu mockumentary toy story 24 frames Nickelodeon Esquire Rom-Com Academy Awards franchise boxoffice X-Men Crunchyroll cats Walt Disney Pictures breaking bad TBS E! Pixar discovery Pet Sematary Rock reboot Country hist Lifetime rotten movies we love comics Netflix Christmas movies Chernobyl DC Universe Comics on TV Warner Bros. BET Awards Horror Ellie Kemper mission: impossible venice PaleyFest versus jamie lee curtis TLC video Amazon Prime Video Starz Thanksgiving television obituary vampires TV Land psycho Comedy Central Universal movies 2018 finale El Rey Paramount Network Trivia MCU Red Carpet Sundance TV Rocky directors cinemax CMT 2017 space 007 Amazon christmas movies witnail Binge Guide Crackle cancelled comic Musical dogs Tumblr docudrama Hallmark Christmas movies Hulu 71st Emmy Awards The Walking Dead BBC America WarnerMedia IFC Films quibi stand-up comedy TCA war Writers Guild of America The Witch Character Guide nature Musicals NBC RT History animated 2019 Winter TV Film Festival parents 4/20 Year in Review composers natural history independent transformers slashers Sneak Peek anthology spider-man Heroines diversity remakes ghosts Countdown festivals romance latino FX on Hulu Spike History Cosplay justice league DGA ESPN cancelled TV series superhero Lifetime Christmas movies DC streaming service Kids & Family sequels spinoff south america OWN Extras Television Critics Association casting Bravo Trailer Sony Pictures streaming Oscars classics Rocketman canceled TV shows Trophy Talk TCA Winter 2020 all-time crime drama talk show Super Bowl Western ITV The Purge zombies 2016 Shondaland blaxploitation LGBTQ Christmas DC Comics USA Network Spring TV Apple 20th Century Fox unscripted revenge Photos Sundance Now Superheroes Election award winner Elton John American Society of Cinematographers HBO Go cops Disney+ Disney Plus Teen USA Avengers romantic comedy HBO anime dc richard e. Grant GIFs 72 Emmy Awards period drama doctor who social media Awards Tour PBS batman blockbuster stoner series serial killer Biopics Tubi canceled Reality game show aliens dark sequel Endgame news facebook Sci-Fi Funimation child's play Adult Swim Britbox Epix Calendar FXX ABC Family National Geographic Superheroe Nat Geo YouTube Red films fast and furious sag awards a nightmare on elm street based on movie YouTube A24 VH1 Disney Channel CBS All Access BBC what to watch screen actors guild video on demand Mindy Kaling Comic Book Black Mirror Brie Larson name the review First Reviews Emmys Lucasfilm comiccon Masterpiece Mary poppins children's TV satire Hallmark asian-american 21st Century Fox cars dragons politics joker Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt YA Marvel Television BET documentaries ratings WGN book scary movies cancelled TV shows Infographic true crime Apple TV+ SXSW science fiction Amazon Prime Podcast Grammys Chilling Adventures of Sabrina A&E YouTube Premium Fantasy Valentine's Day Family binge disaster Star Wars Fall TV APB technology Tarantino golden globes Watching Series foreign SDCC best 2015 halloween spy thriller Showtime laika scorecard die hard FOX medical drama Discovery Channel Pirates nfl Music Fox News strong female leads crossover Song of Ice and Fire Summer Martial Arts Nominations kids Food Network IFC TIFF Star Trek MTV 2020 Shudder movie AMC Set visit supernatural theme song MSNBC biography TCM green book Creative Arts Emmys travel police drama Polls and Games free movies Pop TV Peacock Television Academy Quiz TCA 2017 cooking Mary Poppins Returns The Arrangement Pride Month tv talk Stephen King zero dark thirty stop motion TCA Awards spain werewolf adventure Hear Us Out Disney streaming service Acorn TV cancelled television thriller crime thriller worst PlayStation Vudu rotten Mary Tyler Moore criterion Paramount Best and Worst indie CW Seed Spectrum Originals VOD concert Travel Channel renewed TV shows Mystery mutant psychological thriller universal monsters Drama spanish language adaptation Awards NYCC critics historical drama HBO Max Pop CBS