Infinite Wisdom: VB interviews the director and writer of the new movie Wonder

Infinite Wisdom with VB the Wise
Thursday, November 9th

The new movie "Wonder" comes out this week starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson about a young boy with a disfigured face entering mainstream schooling. Director Stephen Chbosky and author RJ Palacio stop by to discuss the film and its inspiration and dish some on set gossip with VB for his Infinite Wisdom podcast

00:21:56

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome to the infinite wisdom podcast you know I love move regional a lot of talking about movies and I've told you many times if you listen to this podcast that the people that I love most in movies. The people that may come the directors that never get enough credit because it's the toughest job in the world. And the writers because they are the ones that actually planted this seed into the great thing. It is my pleasure to be joined by. One of each of those that fall into that category there's that word coming out called wonder you've probably seen the trailers were yes you've seen Julia Roberts face. Well the guy that put her face in front of the cameras here Stevens should boss key and the writer who wrote the book that led to the movie wonder is here as well. RJ colosio's thank you two for stopping Q. Stephen let's start we view it's the same question every director gets asked every. I'm and you have apartment next movie theaters now all of you haven't seen me work it is still have a yes that's my thinking about USA I think back I got guys I think interviews I think good work witnessed. But with the jets for you with a guy like. Few people may know you from. Paul obviously right so you do have some to attache what are you gonna do what are you gonna do. Why do you pick up this book and why do you say hey this is some interest. Well you know a win win win the producers sent me wonder the book wonder. You know I just had a son. And I don't know something about the timing of Reading the book when my own son was born. At just grabbed me actually grab me by the heart and I love the story so much and that I knew I wanted to do it. So organize name drop and just a little about it this year please please so earnest on tonight I have an original randomly but he wrote On Golden Pond. First screening of On Golden Pond Ernest Thompson to back no idea of what. This happening and whether this is good and whether their liking it. The movie ends in Buck Henry this sort of social commentary giant yeah is there. And Ernest Thompson goes up to a moment once pelican in time zones or do you think this thing or find an audience. But Andrew Thomas and beats as always for people that of honor at at and I want wonder iPod. Only for people that have them on it because that's what is it. My wife my mother in law are accountable when they watch this movie because Julia Roberts makes you ball yet because you are poor yes. Why I say thank you and and for me having not only see my son born between my wife. Goes through the process and amber and me husband. Who's who who sees his wife give birth and and all the things that you go through with that if this was some I had for the script for Julia Roberts was was in tribute to my wife. So RJ for starters you're right the book now this is gonna come out horribly but I don't know how to Wear him. Dirt you're nodding your twenties so. You. Why what I mean by that and why that's important is as you worry writer any New York Times best seller which you have to leave the life and Don things long before you ever decided to write a book in law when the old and what 20112012. You decide to put pen to paper and write this story in here you are five years later seeing Julia Roberts played a role that you wrote that's. Now it's crazy story yeah I had serve my professional life was. I was a graphic designer for many years and writing it always been with that thing that I wanted to do on my down but never sort of really had the chance to do you know I says mom and having a 95 job but then this idea kind of came to me to write wonder and once I started that's the most amazing thing was actually finishing that had a whole bunch of Serbs have finished. Drafts of novels throughout my life but this is the one that I actually committed to finishing because I I thought it was. I kind of knew it was a worthwhile. It was a worthwhile message to get out there. So over those that don't know wonders about a ten year old boy who has physical deformities there was a situation berth in the movie it's perfect genes that have gone a bit of form. Whatever it's about. Okay we're gonna put him in public school now and what's gonna happen and what's gonna come along where that it's sort of an elephant man and in third grade or whatever the greatest. I know you've told everybody this story RJ but you have to tell it again how did this idea even get into your head. Oh well I was with my two sons and we found ourselves in very close proximity to a little girl who had a very. Significant cranial facial difference and my younger son who is only about three years old at the time. Haney he he he he got a little frightened and he he started to cry and in my haste to kind of shield the girl from seeing his reaction to. Sort of hurt her face. I left the scene really quickly whisked him away. And afterwards I really regretted it because I realized that I miss this opportunity to turn that situation into a teaching moment for my son by. Of course I should've done but I didn't even think to do was turn two little girls started up a conversation. She on my son by my example there was nothing to be afraid of but at the time I just. You know I I panicked. And that just got me thinking a lot about what it must be like to face a world every day that doesn't quite know how to face you back in and I started writing one that very night. Boards you're did its interest and I wanna get back then second that was. This is not just from his perspective you went to OK we get a lot of people around him and how are they viewing and I thought. Ministers to character in the way you do it in the movie I thought was off she was great but it really. I knew that they're using the space and he's he's the son and we revolved around him I was so telling. Yeah I I started writing wondered not knowing that I was going to go into the different characters. And I know about that. Until about forty pages into it started getting really curious about via the sister. And what hermit life must be like him and then I realize in order to really explore. Auggies impact on the community around him I had to leave his head and go into the heads of the other people around him. So it was kind of it was scary moment as a writer because you're taking a real departure. And I remembered. It was a leap of faith could you know once you're writing if you kind of you know if you go off course. It's hard trying to get it back on course and so it was it was a leap of faith but BL was such a strong character in my mind. And and ultimately I'm so glad I did that for many reasons but. One of the comments I get the most from especially from parents. Of children who have any kind of difference whether it's cranial facial or autism board Down's syndrome or any thing. Is that they they thank me for having included villas boys because the voice of the sibling. Is one that oftentimes gets. You know we people don't listen to this much because they'd you know they do take. It's sort of have a backstage role in their families be 'cause at eight at necessity the parents are diverted and on their tensions are just elsewhere but so I got a lot of yankees about that specific thing to see including the role of the sibling and and heartbreak they go through as well. I love that you were like well we're I didn't know that because I want things that I love about doing this podcast is. People taller and about creed or process and all that by. You're the director of this movie you're the writer of the movie that's the third time since we've been together now for a little over ten minutes. That you learned something from her they didn't know if you're fascinated by her obviously. Absolutely when are we discourage them yeah but valuable would you Billy from we're talking about. The part of the book that really got me was the same when the guy you would I turn the page it's which point it either via. I couldn't believe I I be in that moment this book was brewing. Because because when you said earlier about elephant man fear grips like oh I think if he'd just stuck with non story yeah I see we are talking about. But man when it switches to the ants on the other characters and you realize that everyone that you thought you knew so well you don't know at all and everybody has the story in this thing. To me that's the brilliance of the book. And and that's why kept the cards. It was it was when I turn the page it's at VM oh well here's a surprise I put in the movie I'd just rather actually. I you know my favorite line in the movie probably is Owen Wilson who plays the dad. When he finally confesses that he took it home and away he says doom your mind sign. You have my face and I wanna see it. But really this is an about the father son you could've gone that way it. But he's more about the mother daughter than his father son even though the sun is the one with the deformities. I find their relationship much for news is I don't eat Julia Roberts and for what she's done there and it seems like Viet. Sort of understands that and is that an uneasy peace without a thought that dynamic is fascinating. Yeah this you know thereafter good that they are an inch or staying for something. The family dynamics play out every day between the four of them because there's a lot of there's a lot of love is a lot of support. Then there's a lot of unspoken tensions that I think Stephen capture so brilliantly in the movie because he kind of you kind of get that there's stories within stories that you're and and you're not really privy to all of them. But you you get the idea that there's more to which I always think is the mark of a great movie went when you know that if you go see it again. You'll get a whole bunch of new things from it in Allen and a movie that you can see again and again this is related to be remarkably great movie. So let's start about the lead actress howdy she'd come to be involved in this to Jew pull that off Steven or did somebody come to you I have to you're not gonna believe what I'm. I half full. Here is my house was at the half we actually that we hear that you maps. She originally read the book she loved the book she read it's your kids out loud kind of the chapter book at night. It was really important thing for their family. And they're very very close family so. She caller agent said if they ever do this news that there were me wonders of movie I won it basically so so that ladies here. And then when they came to me to directed. You know I went to meter in Malibu we had lunch and so I had to be approved basically. I'd be approved by the what I call the two stars of wonder which is RJ and Juliet well because if I flew in New York. You know authored authors are the perjury wallflower. I wasn't gonna make the movie wonder in less RJ wanted me to. Because it is I think. You think the book is sacred text and I'm not gonna touch at the other doesn't approve. How enriching user you can be just passed and now off like if she's as an all walk away I mean c'mon man which I drive it I know it's not bad. No we're committed I. I would I would duds on the Elizabeth that way but but I I I love the books so much to get that that was my thing I basically I kept Julio laughing for three hours a reliance. And then I left in the she said I'm so that was. Did you at any point during their lunch goal line just mean that was not a final or because they care I don't think you'll you don't live because in here's the thing I said her at the island. I said I said Howard counties and that was that blew my mind because she is this international. Movie star and I or brown nose is not a right now it is all right where he got him a guy. It's like I couldn't figure out any realist she you know she cooks dinner for fear she is a Georgia girl. Who's likes it here my three kids here's my husband allowed them all a live on me dinner we're driving to school. It when she's not doing the Julie Roberts thing she's she's mom and she's mom and wife. RJ who row wonder when Julia Roberts you find out is gonna do you like who MG or. This is who I had in mind when or did you have any concept of what that character would. Actually look like when it came to be yelling in my mind I kind of you know that because you know the parents in the book art are we never hear from them directly. And I guess they're you know that some loosely based on sort of my husband my son myself and we're we just you know I don't know yet exactly. And done so in my mind I had you know when I would picture of the mom I just picture myself that that was it. So when I first heard. You know that the movie it took awhile you know the option that shortly after. It was published which was in 2012. On it wasn't until I heard that Julia Roberts was actually interested in playing is about. That it finally became real for me and it became violent away that's almost hard to describe because it was having her. Sure I of course I wanted to erupt if it was sort of the dream that you don't even dare say because it's so ludicrous and it's up to push it like could you wanna play. The mom in the movie Julia Roberts told Clark you know like could try a little harder to help them better because that's never gonna happen. And on and so when I heard that she's actually interest that I I I couldn't believe at that point. The movie became really isn't life funny like Jeanne Yang like you get something you absolutely want which is Julia Roberts but then give it. I know right then got the rough with a smear tiger. Down. Eight does she though I mean this is Julia Roberts huge star ever does she say but I wanted to do this one thing that you don't have or need to change this liner. The issue manipulate the character in any way would you give. No not at all. She loved the book amid is that India the book spoke volumes to her. And the work that I did on the screenplay. Things and to pay tribute to my wife and all the things that she is kind of getting back to her career after giving birth. Really resonated so it was it was a wonderful. It was or yeah. And we don't and I want the things in the only trepidation I ever had about the making of the movie was that. If not done right. You know I'm I'm from sort of the less is more or you know in in movies and books I I for for that. And so one of the things I so love about the movie is that Stephen release that are. He had that same we we aligned in terms of that scene taste level and Julia as well I mean. One of the beautiful things I think about the movie is that there is sort of it's so emotional. But it's also done with such on the lightness and there is kind of eat from the performances you know when you see Julia Roberts tear up. UT that's just kind of the face she has when she laughs I mean she has a Julia Roberts last. The whole everybody laughs you know you just you just wanna laugh and and I think Stephen's jab was kind of to rein it and because there would be. There's so much emotion flying left and right that if not done right. And just sort of letting loose the emotion just the right time it could speak too much and that's why I say it works on so I'll level. So for me no one's seen you've got to now and if you don't animal that's why I'm curious to even if it is one taker and I mean how good is she. She shows up to pick ought yup it's school and art he's got a friendly. And you cut error in your conceded two years while an op and then you can see her fight those off. And then you can hear straighten up and there are let's go and I'm not gonna say anything but I am gonna catch myself because I'm about to stumble and fall. There's an awful lot that you're asking her to do without saying a word she she file. The mentally Aniston and and what I said that was individually. Towards the end of the issue was. Director was like being like Michael Phelps is the swimming coach at that she is so good at doing this. That that most of the time I just sat in and look at my monitor in law that. It didn't matter what I asked it didn't matter what what was required it was there every time different. Seat have some variety my favorite though is sometimes something you don't see. Let's say ticket Trombley who plays on he is right on the cost you know that he wants to cry like he's he's right there he's he's feeling it. But there's some holding them back it happens all the time with the actors all the time why I pull her aside and Juliette Lewis and he's written on the cost. He's such a sweet kid if you start bawling off camera he'll go there he'll follow you. And you know that carries and even on her it's just okay you need that I'll do it. Now the tech OK and then that mentally it's the scene. You know it's a remarkable talent and I also say of the here's a fun thing about Julia Roberts and and RJ first of all they're very nervous to meet each other which I loved. They each were very much like you order I like you and I looked up the good note note I think every big. Big big rock star for Julie it was fine I would I would I fell again to go into the chilly creative like mothers of the film. Saying you know you'll love each other trust me nobody be nervous. But in and there's a graduation scene and if you look because RG is actually where's Waldo of wonder she's all over the movie as an extra. Are these are all Oklahoma on I throw. You know I think you only really seen in one scene which is a graduate Iowa on the ground that any Macy but now that the thing is. I loved putting Easter eggs in movies and so if you look to catch her if you look at the family before of them there's using the public you know. Right behind them there is is is Juli there RJ and Owen Wilson and his Russell artist husband. And in their two cents you say yes I I did I think I'd love doing something. Or else you got an hour when you're. I don't see this again. And just being given me some good solid and they aren't they charge you know I'm not I've Stephen should be and it right. Hitchcock thing I I would I would I would I was asleep at the end in my movie pursuit off those. Now known I was I had my hands they say that directors don't do movies with kids make up for dogs and I had all three there's no I'm going to be in the movie. But it wasn't real family feel on the set because a lot of you know a lot of the unique because it a lot of people on the set the producers have kids who are wonder aged kids so they were you know people brought their kids to the set and were used as extras and and there was a lot of that so I think I mean it would be it would be boring to kind of serve list all the names of all the kids that are. In the movie that actually serves are are related to what you Elisa. List one that was to be my daughters Malia and yes yes okay so there's that there's that thing. I was in Vancouver's film in the fill them in making movie and I miss my daughter's fourth birthday. She was in Jersey with her mom. So they came to visit me for one week in and create this flashback scenes you know and my daughter looks a lot like via news on the movie. And little idea until I got I got to recreate her fourth birthday. Yes it is absolutely appropriate for villas story but IE. Got to not miss my daughter my dollars. Want to go to mass killing is such as brilliant. Send guys and it's great so I go and cotton I go this third take. And Julie looks music now and Norman secretary actors have before I don't know like. As when it's you're Qaeda we actually are nice to see you don't know until you honey if you are celebrating the. We know personally all the perks of being correctly yet to overlap did you and rightly or memorial where Julia Roberts. That in Japan wasn't that made you do one of those. Photo books when your daughter grows up to her personally Gaza my birthday whatever is warriors the story here is the story though that it's great lucrative let me go back to. First or second just because I only know this little bit of the story of a bit. I I love where ideas compromise once told a friend of mine swimming demise. It's all around you just a question what you focus on when you pick up on what you noticed how did perks of a wallflower. Come to be for you. It came to be I was in college I was I was. They messed up young man as as some people in college are winning an art school everything anyway so I started writing from this kid's point of view and at one point he wrote. I just or semi pages to get to this line because it's one of the perks me wallflower cast opposite of pursue wallflower. That's a really good title and I threw with a seventy pages does that kid I was writing about was gone angry and he wasn't right and then I focused on that. That phrase who is Beckett who does that strike it. I thought of as the older friends it's after five years of gestation just as you said life is all around numbers and picking up little pieces. And when it was time to write and I sat down and and much like RJ. The one thing about reading a book more than anything else is that moment we finally I'm gonna do this. And and you never look back it's an amazing thing and I what I literate you know him and others I just finished my second novel. Friday congratulations. I only goodness that's wonderful area. Well what we have a title at least that we can look warriors who are not yet it's all. I don't. I've does your stamp the time have child's change a lot of work in the publishing you know now that's sort of the thing that's. Yet but I do it literally by my second book in two decades there has that's great congratulations. And a gun. I'm menu at least I mean that didn't end on this exciting I can't let you go without I ask you redirect. That I ever get to what's the one movie did you watch you know and I wish I directed that. There's so many of them I couldn't even stuff but I the one movie that I've come back there reference for personal off or and for wonder was that poses. I love them yes they just loved it and actually the big big honor coming our way. Other Writers Guild of America they're gonna do screening of wonder and they're have a Q and day and Tom Schulman screenwriter of of dead poet's society is going to be a moderator. Omaha yeah average gain I just he's a hero minds here's what I get from the through user wrap this up see smiles and view things. Life is good you guys are very proud of which you've done I lucked out I have to say as a writer you hear so many stories about unhappy authors and you know. I can't think of Alou and I'm happy as possible and that I think is a huge endorsement because it's hard to please office you know become back after you read his novel I want known just absolutely accurate or. It. I'll be directing has also been some buzz in the direct there are urging people lots geo is the brain that gave us wonder congratulations of the and they. There's been a little bit of time here and infinite wisdom podcast and really appreciate it again.
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