Five Favorite Films

Ruth Wilson's Five Favorite Films

The star of Luther, The Affair, and this week's The Little Stranger watched a lot of inappropriate movies when she was young.

by | August 30, 2018 | Comments

Noam Galai/Getty Images

(Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)

Fans of the acclaimed BBC crime drama Luther and the Showtime series The Affair are already well-acquainted with Ruth Wilson, the versatile British actress whose very first BBC drama, the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre, earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Since then, she’s appeared in both high-profile productions like Anna Karenina and Saving Mr. Banks and smaller films like I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House, in addition to her extensive work on television.

This week, Wilson stars opposite Domhnall Gleeson in Room director Lenny Abrahamson’s The Little Stranger, a character-driven mystery drama flavored with a touch of the supernatural, based on the novel of the same name by Sarah Waters. She took some time to speak with RT about her Five Favorite Films, noting, “These are all gonna come from my childhood, basically, because I think that’s what defines what you watch.” What we got was a rather unique list — including one TV series — for any pre-teen, as well as some insight into Wilson’s new film and the ways in which her father and three brothers influenced her movie taste.


The Warriors (1979) 86%

The Warriors, only because it was such a brilliant… Well, actually, the reason why is because I did it as my first-ever stage play. We did a staged version of The Warriors, which is absurd, and it was, like, a lot of British kids running around hitting each other with polystyrene baseball bats. It was such a theatrical version of New York, of the gangs in New York, and it was visceral and sort of fun and energetic, and I loved it. I watched it when I was probably about 11, and kind of loved it.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) 97%

Another one is The Holy Grail because I love Monty Python, but also, I knew all the lines by heart. I used to watch it all the time as a kid. Lots of people prefer Life of Brian, but for some reason, I just love Holy Grail. You know, I’m a bit of a history buff, so I just loved all that stuff.

Twin Peaks 82%

OK, Twin Peaks, which isn’t a film, but a TV series. Again, I watched that as a kid, and I just thought it was so weird and wonderful and scary. I just didn’t get it, but I loved the music. It was so, sort of, haunting. I’m putting everything from literally the age of eight to about 12.

Dirty Dancing (1987) 69%

Dirty Dancing, because it was my first big romantic movie I watched. I was under age. I wasn’t allowed to watch it, really, but my cleaner gave it to me, and I loved it.

Schindler's List (1993) 98%

Schindler’s List. I remember, again, I was under age. It was all experiences I wasn’t really allowed to be having, you know. So, I went to watch Schindler’s List. My dad was like, “OK, we’re taking you to the movies. You have to watch this movie. It’s an important film to see.” The cinema was packed out, and I was probably about 12 or 13, and it was just incredibly moving and overwhelming for a 13-year-old to watch, and the visuals of the girl in red in this black-and-white world, things like that. It’s just really ingrained in me. I remember the experience of going to watch that with everyone, and being moved.


Ryan Fujitani for Rotten Tomatoes: That is a pretty interesting list for a young person to have…

Ruth Wilson: I was quite weird, I think, maybe. I was the youngest of four kids, so by the time I came along, my parents couldn’t be bothered with stopping me watching things I wasn’t allowed to watch. My brothers would watch something, and it was very hard to say no to me, so I would watch what my brothers were watching. I was kind of intrigued and interested in weird and wonderful things, you know? At a young age.

RT: All of your siblings were brothers?

Wilson: Yeah. Three older brothers. Might explain a bit of it. [laughs]

RT: You mentioned your father took you to see Schindler’s List. Was he also an influence on what you saw and what interested you?

Wilson: It’s interesting. So, my dad, he did himself use to go to cinema a lot when he was a kid. I think he loved the process of going to the cinema, really — the experience of that — and back in their generation, it was a weekly thing to do, or a family entertainment thing that they would do a lot. So we went with him quite a bit, yeah. But I’ve always loved the shared experience of being in a dark room watching these epic tales being told and being lost in the world of that make believe. That probably did come from him, yeah.

RT: You’re in this film The Little Stranger, which is based on a Sarah Waters novel. Did you read it beforehand, and if so, how did it influence the way you played the character onscreen?

Wilson: No. I read the script first, but it enticed me, and then I read the book, and there was lots of description in the book that wasn’t in the script, necessarily, about [my character] Caroline. It’s weird, because it’s through Faraday’s (Domhnall Gleeson) eyes in the book. You know, he’s the protagonist, and it’s through his rightly subjective view, so the way he visualizes Caroline is slightly fetishized in the book, and it’s kind of specific, and it’s sexualized. But it’s not about the curves of her body and the way she walks on daily walks. It’s kind of exaggerated, I think, perhaps in the book, or through his eyes, but I wanted to incorporate some of that into the character.

This is definitely not a glamorous aristocrat. She’s not someone who has men running around trying to hook up with her or marry her. She is definitely on the edge of being a spinster, and I think that had to come across, that she wasn’t comfortable in the skin of being a glamorous aristocrat. She’s practical, she’s bossy, she’s no-nonsense. Her mother sort of slightly despairs at the fact that she has a daughter who’s completely unglamorous and has no hope of getting a partner in life. I think that’s what I wanted to bring into it, so my physicality changed, and we had padding. I wore hip and bum padding, and I had sort of slightly more protruding teeth, which made me speak differently. It was about my physicality, really, in those dresses, that I just didn’t look comfortable in all those outfits. I much preferred my wooly jumpers and my big corduroy trousers. And my relationship with my dog — you know, with Gyp — who was my best friend there, so it’s a woman who’s a practical outdoors lady. That was in the book, and that’s what I tried to bring into the piece.

RT: Some of the events in the film are left up to interpretation, and it reminded me a bit of My Cousin Rachel. Rachel Weisz was reluctant to offer specific thoughts on the film’s mysteries, but I’m wondering if you have any personal take on some of the events in The Little Stranger.

Wilson: I don’t know. I might follow Rachel’s suggestion and say it’s up to the audience. I think it’s a bit of both, to be honest. I think [Caroline is] a very practical woman, so she would not want to believe supernatural goings on, but there’s something definitely odd at play, an energy at play that she couldn’t explain by the end, so I think it’s a bit of both. There is a supernatural element, but there’s something psychological, and there’s something unnerving about the people at the heart of this film, as well, and whether they have any responsibility in it. Kind of an energy beyond human control, I think.


The Little Stranger opens in limited release this Friday, August 31.

Tag Cloud

Apple TV+ Adult Swim USA Network joker fast and furious Television Academy romantic comedy game of thrones Netflix Christmas movies series jamie lee curtis die hard WarnerMedia fresh Trophy Talk Awards Sci-Fi OneApp dark DirecTV DGA Superheroes Peacock Pacific Islander japanese new star wars movies international cancelled TV series versus CMT critics 2017 Chernobyl cartoon 007 binge Legendary Biopics latino The Walking Dead 2018 award winner LGBT Star Wars period drama Interview BET Awards Winners 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards discovery superman satire VH1 President 2015 rotten movies we love deadpool Heroines Countdown Set visit SundanceTV name the review Epix reboot The Academy 93rd Oscars Tarantino trailers revenge zombie reviews emmy awards know your critic FX Avengers TCM Year in Review worst aapi Disney Video Games Certified Fresh ABC Signature spanish toy story teaser The Purge spanish language 72 Emmy Awards kids dogs NBA Anna Paquin video mission: impossible Amazon Prime toronto directors Tubi 21st Century Fox E3 remakes justice league Animation transformers rom-coms A24 dc Awards Tour Black Mirror dramedy australia cops golden globe awards television TV One Comedy Central Comic Book serial killer high school popular BBC America Amazon Studios APB Crackle science fiction game show news what to watch sports Netflix AMC cancelled TV shows TIFF Calendar The Witch green book Trivia HBO Go New York Comic Con 24 frames rotten Tokyo Olympics saw Disney streaming service 2021 Pride Month Bravo Columbia Pictures basketball SXSW Musicals Rocketman witnail Universal cats Nat Geo NYCC nfl Baby Yoda stop motion DC Universe Extras comiccon sequel Podcast Emmys The Walt Disney Company live action Pixar ABC Family anime book 90s hispanic facebook Hulu Trailer Sony Pictures Mary poppins comic books ViacomCBS Valentine's Day scorecard Family Comics on TV anthology Apple Mindy Kaling BBC One Apple TV Plus kong Freeform halloween tv scene in color Superheroe streaming PaleyFest zombies godzilla YA Thanksgiving Horror OWN criterion Sundance olympics hidden camera Cartoon Network suspense venice finale TCA Winter 2020 animated 20th Century Fox Best and Worst Disney Channel target Crunchyroll tv talk heist movie History blockbusters screen actors guild Sneak Peek robots MCU Holidays new york Discovery Channel renewed TV shows thriller SDCC MTV Marathons political drama book adaptation kaiju Musical See It Skip It composers BET cults blockbuster 99% Sundance Now CBS All Access breaking bad ghosts canceled TV shows medical drama A&E disaster 1990s Marvel Studios Cannes king kong Alien Pirates razzies Shudder CBS Captain marvel scary movies Summer Premiere Dates RT History YouTube San Diego Comic-Con Travel Channel elevated horror Lifetime comics adventure Image Comics miniseries Lucasfilm marvel cinematic universe Britbox south america quibi Women's History Month james bond films parents Hallmark diversity golden globes Music nature El Rey TV sequels Warner Bros. blaxploitation The CW werewolf MSNBC DC streaming service video on demand GIFs Hallmark Christmas movies comedies telelvision Esquire archives Cosplay TCA GLAAD LGBTQ WGN based on movie prank TCA Awards Fantasy spider-man National Geographic Comic-Con@Home 2021 adaptation pirates of the caribbean movies Lifetime Christmas movies concert christmas movies Tumblr true crime TBS Marvel Television worst movies YouTube Premium GoT legend independent streaming movies TV Land Rom-Com Syfy X-Men hist VOD monster movies Dark Horse Comics italian Fall TV Western YouTube Red classics TNT E! The Arrangement franchise festivals supernatural 45 romance stoner docudrama cars Elton John indie Quiz slashers foreign Oscars biography Mystery politics Holiday Opinion Lionsgate psychological thriller laika technology Super Bowl Star Trek Song of Ice and Fire Binge Guide unscripted IFC screenings documentary Red Carpet Comedy Toys stand-up comedy crossover Creative Arts Emmys casting boxing Mary Tyler Moore Acorn TV twilight Ovation Brie Larson harry potter canceled BAFTA football NBC hollywood crime drama Box Office Disney+ Disney Plus Exclusive Video japan Mudbound Academy Awards halloween Teen Showtime Pet Sematary indiana jones Walt Disney Pictures Turner Classic Movies child's play Paramount Plus universal monsters Winter TV Kids & Family cancelled television Fox News nbcuniversal spain docuseries Reality jurassic park Tomatazos space Shondaland Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Endgame PBS french ESPN zero dark thirty Marvel Film USA Nickelodeon psycho Television Critics Association ratings cinemax First Look spinoff Paramount HBO Max Photos war doctor who Black History Month Logo crime thriller children's TV adenture best Election Fox Searchlight Country 71st Emmy Awards Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 2016 FX on Hulu police drama Grammys ID boxoffice TV movies Watching Series free movies Reality Competition Spectrum Originals IFC Films mockumentary vampires cancelled comic Christmas Paramount Network CNN sag awards obituary Writers Guild of America American Society of Cinematographers Funimation chucky TruTV Pop travel 2019 batman aliens Arrowverse Character Guide DC Comics Starz mutant TLC historical drama Ghostbusters strong female leads PlayStation HBO Nominations festival FXX BBC rt archives cooking Sundance TV black documentaries theme song all-time Masterpiece Spike crime Vudu a nightmare on elm street Drama Classic Film social media TCA 2017 Broadway ABC Film Festival Ellie Kemper Mary Poppins Returns dragons 4/20 Food Network richard e. Grant movie Wes Anderson Rocky FOX spy thriller ITV natural history Spring TV Hear Us Out 2020 superhero Amazon Prime Video asian-american TV renewals lord of the rings First Reviews singing competition Polls and Games Emmy Nominations new zealand RT21 sitcom women Martial Arts Infographic Schedule Amazon CW Seed Rock Turner Stephen King Disney Plus talk show Pop TV dceu Action VICE