On her 18th birthday, India Stoker’s (Mia Wasikowska) father dies in a tragic car accident. Her only source of strength and comfort now gone, India now finds herself lost and unable to connect to the people around including her unstable mother Evie, played by Nicole Kidman. On the day of her father’s funeral, her father’s long lost brother Uncle Charlie surfaces and decides to stay with them. At first doubtful of her Uncle Charlie, Mia surprisingly finds herself drawn to him in a fascinating way she never thought possible.
As Uncle Charlie reveals himself to her, India becomes increasingly infatuated with her charismatic relative and comes to realize that his arrival is no coincidence. With her uncle to guide her, she is about to find out that in her blood runs a stream of evil that her father had long protected her from.
The enigmatic man at the center of the family conflict is played by Matthew Goode, a British import previously seen in Tom Ford’s critically acclaimed “A Single Man,” opposite Oscar® winner Colin Firth, and as the Greek god-like super hero Ozymandias in “Watchmen.” “Matthew is just so much fun,” says Wasikowska. “Our relationship off-screen was the polar opposite of what it was on screen. He can be really goofy, so it was a challenge to keep a straight face working with him.”
Uncle Charlie is shrouded in mystery throughout the film. His motives remain hidden until nearly the end. “The audience never knows for sure what goes on in his mind,” says director Park. “He loved his brother so much, and his love for his brother is transferred to India. He is a mentor figure who turns up to complete India. Matthew matched the image I had in my head—the innocence, humor, elfishness. He has the mischievous sparkle and elegant delicacy of someone who can’t hurt a fly. These are all the perfect qualities for Uncle Charlie.”
Goode was equally certain that he wanted to be part of Park’s English language debut. “This is an example of Hollywood drawing on the best talent from all around the world, which I think is a brilliant thing,” Goode says. “Director Park is a master of psychology, which is one of the reasons his films are so intelligent and believable.”
“This kind of script doesn’t come around every day,” Goode continues. “It has all the right ingredients to move an audience, as well as to scare and provoke them. It’s a beautiful love story, in a twisted way. Charlie has been waiting for years, keeping in touch with Mrs. McGarrick, the housekeeper, to learn all about India. At first you think you know who Charlie is, but as the story evolves, you realize he’s extremely complicated and dangerous,” he says. “Nothing is what it appears. He wants to be around his family, so he uses Evie. He can’t really stay there unless she is attracted to him. But Charlie is extremely unbalanced and he has feelings for India that are not at all uncle-like. The challenge for me was that rather than being simply evil, he has to have a center to him that we like, which is disorienting and quite scary.”
“Matthew is compellingly attractive as Charlie,” Kidman adds. “That’s really such a good thing for Uncle Charlie to be. You believe that Evie would desire him and want his attention. He’s the first person for a long time to give her attention. And then Matthew, of course, has such talent. I expect to see him become a huge star.”