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

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