Following up his Oscar-nominated Carol, Todd Haynes couldn’t have chosen a more ambitious project than Wonderstruck, a tale of two deaf teenagers growing up 50 years apart in New York City, trying to unravel mysteries of their family lives.
Adapted by Brian Selznick from his own novel, the raw materials came to Killer Films’ Christine Vachon while the director was finishing up Carol in 2015, and the attraction was immediate. “The script came to us via [costume designer] Sandy Powell. We all read it—and by ‘we all,’ I mean my massive office of three people—and then I think I met Brian Selznick and said to him, ‘I am really trying to get Todd to read it, but if you need to move on, do so,’ ” Vachon told Deadline’s Diana Lodderhose at the inaugural The Contenders London event. “And Brian said, ‘I will wait forever.’ ”
Helped along in the development process by Ted Hope, an old friend in the indie film community who is now Head of Production for Amazon’s original movies, Haynes had to reconcile the challenge of working with deaf actors for the first time. “We all felt it was so important to try every possible means of trying to find a deaf kid, bring a deaf kid’s own unique knowledge and understanding to that character, and have that be a part of our production,” he said. “I thought it would be the best way for any kid to understand that role, but it was also a way for all of us to understand and get closer to the deaf community.”
To hear more from Deadline’s conversation with the Wonderstruck team—including producer John Sloss and actors Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael—click above.