I have been a big advocate for Millicent Simmonds ever since I saw Wonderstruck at Telluride. She is a remarkable talent with a long career ahead. While I didn’t have a chance to meet with Millicent in person for A Quiet Place Part II, I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions about the film, her career, and deaf representation in film.
Hi Millie, I hope you are doing well and that you are safe and healthy. I am so bummed that I can’t be doing this interview with you in person, but I am so happy that the film is coming out, and people will finally have the opportunity to see your incredible performance in it. As you know, I have always been blown away by your talents whenever I see you on the big screen. I constantly feel drawn to the characters you play and your performance. You are a remarkable and one-of-a-kind actress, and I know I’ve said it before, but you deserve all the success you had and much more. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions for me.
Millicent Simmonds: Hi Scott! I wish I could see you in person too! Thank you for always being so positive about me and my career. I hope you and your family have stayed safe during all of this, and hopefully, we see each other soon.
When you originally signed on to the first film, did you ever expect the film to generate the level of success and worldwide appeal it received?
Millicent Simmonds: Not at all! I don’t think any of us did, really. It just felt like we were all at camp making a fun little movie and hoped people liked it. The response was really overwhelming for all of us, I think.
Your character Regan takes center stage in this film. Were you nervous at all about taking on the lead role?
Millicent Simmonds: For sure I was. John pitched me the story over facetime, and his approach was, “Millie, just hear me out.” I think he knew that I would be intimidated, but after I heard how excited he was, I had to do it. I felt like I could see the film having him tell it to me. I knew how good it was going to be.
What was the most difficult scene for you to film?
Millicent Simmonds: The train was really difficult for me to film. It was extremely hot, and everyone was sweating. On top of that, trying to wrestle the gun and the radio at the same time, being nervous about shooting it while acting terrified. There were a lot of little elements that I had to get just right for it to work.
I know that you and Noah are close friends; however, you weren’t together all that much this time around. Did you still spend a lot of time together on the set? I realize it might be hard to remember as it was so long ago.
Millicent Simmonds: We really didn’t have a lot of time together on the set, so we really took advantage of the times we were filming together. It was hard because when I was on set, he was off, and when he was filming, I was off. We lived a couple of blocks away from each other, so we’d go to each other’s houses and hang out when we had time.
One of the things that stood out about your character this time around was that Regan spoke more. What was that like for you?
Millicent Simmonds: It was different and definitely not something I’m used to doing. But I was doing a lot of things out of my comfort zone as well, for example, the stunts and shooting guns, so it pushed me in a lot of ways. Speaking is just one of those. 😊
You have gotten to work alongside several great actors in your career so far, Emily, John, Cillian, Julianne, etc. is there anything you learned from them that you have taken with you?
Millicent Simmonds: I’ve learned so much from every single one of them. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to observe and collaborate with the people that I’ve worked with. In front and behind the camera.
Many critics and journalists are comparing Regan to Sarah Connor and Ripley. Knowing how iconic those characters are, how does it feel knowing that you are the first deaf actress to play a character that has the potential of being part of pop culture?
Millicent Simmonds: I don’t really think that has hit me yet. It may never will. I hope I’m not the last.
Over the last year, I loved seeing you advocate for others with disabilities, from creating an exclusive mask line to being part of the ongoing discussion about representation in the industry. With the world soon returning to normal, do you plan on continuing this advocacy, and if so, how can others help support you?
Millicent Simmonds: For sure I do. It’s important to me that kids see themselves represented on screen. And not always a character that you’re supposed to feel sorry for or someone that needs to be saved. We need more writers that are willing to explore stories for everyone. We also need to support the stories that come from individuals in these communities.
My last question, as you know, I loved Wonderstruck and both of these films. I want to see more of you, and I think you deserve to be in more projects. Is there a certain genre that you would like to tackle next, and is there a particular actor or filmmaker with who you would love to work alongside?
Millicent Simmonds: Thank you so much for saying that, Scott. That means a lot to me. I have a few things in the works that I’m so excited about that are really diverse. I don’t think I have a specific genre in mind. I think I’m open to anything. I loved Jojo Rabbit and would love to work with Taika Waititi. I also love Olivia Wilde, Saoirse Ronan, Greta Gerwig. There are too many to count!