Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds talk about A Quiet Place, their careers, and representation in film
A Quiet Place took SXSW 2018 by storm. A Quiet Place was one of the festival’s strongest openings in quite some time and I was so excited to be part of the experience. After seeing the film, I was presented with several opportunities to talk with several people involved in the film. The day after the SXSW premiere, I got to sit down with Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, the writing duo behind A Quiet Place. A few weeks later, as part of the film’s press day, I got to chat with producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form about their involvement with the film. Later that same day, I got to talk with Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe about the film and we had a great conversation about their careers, working on the film, and how important it is for deaf people to be represented in the film.
Below is my full interview with Noah Jupe and Millicent Simmonds
Scott: Hello everyone. Good afternoon and congratulations on a great film.
Noah: Oh, thank you.
Scott: I was at the South by Southwest premiere. How did you guys feel being there?
Noah: It was a really good experience because I had never seen the movie and to see it with an audience for the first time was pretty cool. Like I’d seen other movie premieres, but I’d seen the film already so, experiencing it for the first time with people was pretty cool.
Scott: Very nice.
Millie: I had the same experience. When I started watching it, I actually forgot everything that was going to happen in the film. And it was also great to see it with an audience. It was great to see their responses to the film; to see people crying, screaming, laughing. I felt like we were all a part of this story, watching another story.
Scott: Just terrific! Since both of you have been to other film festivals, do you feel that they are important and have helped your career?
Noah: Yeah! To be opening a film festival in itself, that was an honor and very, very cool and something that I’ll probably remember forever. I mean I don’t know if it’s helped my career, but it’s a very cool thing to experience.
Millie: I think film festivals can help me become more accountable. It’s funny, you know, I have to make sure I’m dressed well, that I don’t trip on stage, everyone looking at me. So it’s made me have to be more mature.
Noah: Yeah, I also love film festivals because people are there, and they want to see you and the movies. They are ready for the experience and they are ready to ask questions. You get some really amazing questions that people ask you, and it is a really good vibe, the whole thing. I’ve been to two film festivals now and it’s got the same kind of vibe, everyone is really enjoying it and wants the movie to be good. That kind of helps in a way.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. Millie, I have to tell you. You are so incredible. I adored you in Wonderstruck and now seeing you in A Quiet Place I really have nothing else to say but, Wow. Did you always want to be an actress, and how did your career start?
Millie: Thank you so much for your words, it’s very inspirational. I would say the same about Noah as well. In Wonderstruck, that was my first role and I never expected to be an actor, so, I had a person that knew me that said, “You should really audition for this role.” And I did, simply for their sake. I never expected to get it. Then I actually got the role and it was quite surprising. I thought, oh my gosh, I need to now become serious. I need to learn how to be an actress. I need to go on google and learn what I’ve gotten myself into. It was a really interesting experience for me because it helped me become a better person after that experience. It made me more responsible, made me learn patience, made me learn to be more compassionate. What I found, what I learned about myself is I really like being around people, talented people. I made so many friends while working on both films and I think because all I’ve learned I really would like to continue acting.
Scott: You are so terrific. I want you to keep acting and want you in like every movie. Like, seriously, I want a writer to write a role for you at least once a year. You’re that good.
Millie: Oh my gosh, Thank you so much. You are very sweet.
Scott: Noah, for you, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, John Hurt, Taylor Schilling, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Tom Hiddleston, Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Hugh Laurie, can you believe in just three years how many television and film roles you have gotten with all these famous people?
Noah: Well, when you put it like that, No actually. You’re the first person that’s said that. That list shot me into a reflection of what I’ve done in the past few years. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to have that much, you know, shooting a movie is really cool, but shooting a few movies is incredible. It’s been a crazy ride. I feel like I’ve gone up three mountains and got to the top and achieved so much, but at the same time made so many friends, and learned so many new things.
Scott: Awesome. In terms of working on this film, this is kind of a two-part question for both of you. Millie, did you teach John, Emily and Noah ASL? And Noah, was it difficult to learn?
Millie: Noah came in already knowing a little bit of sign language. So, he knew the alphabet. He knew some basic signs so it was easy for us to start off, and the thing about Noah was that everything I taught him he would remember and every time he didn’t know a sign he would spell it out and I would teach him the sign. He picked up really quickly, I was very impressed. I have many friends that I tried to teach sign language to and they have not been able to learn; Noah picked it up very quickly. We became very quick friends because of that because we could communicate; and we could express our deepest feelings, in our different language. I love you, Noah.
Noah: When I first saw Millie, she was such a beautiful person. I was emailing her, and she sounded like the most amazing person. She had the most amazing ideas and the most amazing things to say and that boosted me so much to learn sign language, just to be friends with Millie. It kind of helped develop that friendship because we were together all the time. We had silent dinners, which really helped. She was always teaching me something about sign language; about this, that, and the other. It was endless. I really liked that, and we grew very close because of that.
Scott: I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but you two are just so terrific. You really are. You both own the screen whenever you are on it. I’m still in awe of both of you.
Noah: Aww, Thank you.
Scott: This film is really about a family and that’s what really sells this movie to the audience. As a viewer, you believe in this family, you root for this family, you care about this family. What did you guys do on set to create that family dynamic, and make it believable? Did you do any fun activities? Did you play any games? Did you as you mentioned Noah do something else like the silent dinners. Did you do that as a group, or was it just the two of you?
Noah: Well, it was kind of public in New York, and it’s a really big place and we were quite far away from Emily and John, so it was hard to get them and hang out with them. Millie and I, we had two weeks rehearsal, by the time we started shooting the first scene we were already best buds, so that was easy. In terms of John and Emily, we were always talking. Like Emily and I would always be sitting next to each other in the make-up chairs just talking about this, that and the other. That really helped. And then John, because I kind of met him before and id really took a liking to him, and his ideas, we felt like really good friends and that kind of helped. There are two parts to parenthood, that I always tell my parents that they’re not just my parents, they are my friends because you have to trust, so just getting to know them, and getting to know John and Emily helped with that.
Millie: I think the same as Noah, they really took the time to find out how we were feeling, to ask for our ideas and suggestions, and they really cared about us. It wasn’t just acting. They cared about us and our experiences. They asked questions about our lives and people in our lives. They got to know us and they would invite us to their house. When we went to their house, it just made the relationship stronger because it sort of bridged this work life and personal life. It was a place and a time where we could explore different ideas. Both Noah and I had begun emailing like he said. We knew each other before coming on set. Noah has a nice way about him. He has a way of making people feel comfortable. He has a way of making people open up so I just had an instant connection with him. He has a great sense of humor, which helped us all, and a little bit bizarre as well.
Scott: Millie, I really wanted to ask, you starred in two different films, and they have been incredibly different from one another, but they both featured deaf characters. How important is it for you that these films are being made but told with such authenticity since you are part of them and the story?
Millie: I think it’s very important to have all kinds of representations in film. Not only gender representation, not only race and ethnicity but that all disabled people are represented. I think that it’s a human experience to have life struggles and I think Hollywood needs to invite more people in because then we see people in films and we see their stories and it makes us understand their lives a little more. It makes us more compassionate. The more compassionate each of us become as individuals then the more compassionate the world will be. It will be a better place. I think it’s an opportunity to teach people how to have respect for others who are different than you, I think it’s an opportunity through seeing their stories and their experiences to have a different understanding of what their life is and that we have done all have to be one way. I think more representation of all kinds of diversity would be good.
Scott: What a fantastic answer. I don’t think anyone could have said it better. I don’t think so.
Alright, guys, I’ll let you go. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Congratulations, I look forward to talking to both of you again. You are two of the best young actor working today. You need to know that if you don’t know it, and congratulations once again.
Millie: Thank you, Scott.
Scott: Take care, Bye