Old star, Alex Wolff, talks about how writer/director M. Night Shyamalan depicts the rapid aging of the characters in the new high-concept thriller.
Old‘s Alex Wolff explained the process of how M. Night Shyamalan depicted the rapid aging process in the new summer thriller. The young actor got his start in The Naked Brothers Band which aired on Nickelodeon. However, he has worked his way into motion pictures ranging from independent cinema to big Hollywood films. He starred in both Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and the sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level. In between those two films, he starred in Ari Aster’s Hereditary. Most recently, he played opposite Nicolas Cage in Pig and one of the lead roles in Shyamalan’s Old.
The summer thriller written and directed by Shyamalan is based on Pierre-Oscar Lévy an Frederick Peeters’ graphic novel, Sandcastle. The plot follows husband and wife, Guy (Gael García Bernal) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps), and their two children named Maddox (Thomasin McKenzie) and Trent (Wolff), who all go on a tropical vacation. After going to a secluded beach with a few strangers from their hotel, they discover that something is wrong with the beach that’s causing them to age rapidly.
In an interview with THR, Wolff talked about his experience filming Old. Given the nature of the rapid aging that takes place on the beach, the story explores the characters through multiple phases of their lives within a single day. He said that Shyamalan kept track of the age and was very well-organized when it came to preparing for every scene. However, the filmmaker did allow the actors to experiment with some aspects of the characters on an emotional level. See below for his full statement:
“It had more to do with acting and emotionally keeping track of where you are. Night really kept such beautiful track of it. He had such precision in terms of what age he wanted you to be and where he wanted you to be at that age. So you couldn’t start thinking about it intellectually. You didn’t have to say, ‘I’m this age and …’ Night would just guide you where you needed to be emotionally, and then it would happen naturally. That’s what’s so special about him. He’s completely hands on. He wants you to do exactly what he wants, including his blocking and his very specific marks. He creates storyboards, and he wants you to match them. But at the same time, emotionally, he’s very open to letting things slither and letting them find their own way.”
While Old isn’t based on an original concept made by Shyamalan, it’s the type of high-concept material that he’s typically associated with. While he hit major success with The Sixth Sense back in 1999, the filmmaker has received mixed reception for most of his career. After making The Happening and The Last Airbender, he received a lot of grief from moviegoers. However, he received more positive reception with The Visit and Split. While Old was delayed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the film has now finally hit theaters and has been divisive among critics.
The film’s premise is particularly fascinating, as the concept of losing time in this way is terrifying. There’s certainly an additional complicated layer to the characters here, as they are only aging physically. Wolff plays a six-year-old boy in the body of a 15-year-old. While his character is going through all of the physical changes of aging, he only has the mental understanding of a six-year-old. It’s great that Shyamalan kept organized regarding the aging of the characters, as this makes the actors’ jobs much easier. Old is now playing exclusively in theaters.
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