Saoirse Ronan & Jason Isaacs On Abduction Movie 'Stockholm, Pennsylvania' & Stereotyping The Bad Guy
Films dealing with the subject of abduction are often dark, heart-pounding, and land perfectly in the thriller/horror genre. Take 2008's Taken , the Liam Neeson led film about a man hunting down the foreigners who kidnapped his daughter. The movie has spawned two sequels, a handful of threatening memes, and convinced America that Liam Neeson is an action star. But 2015's Stockholm, Pennsylvania, written and directed by Nikole Beckwith starring The Lovely Bones' Saoirse Ronan, is another abduction flick. But if you're hoping to see torture scenes and car chases, opt for a ticket to Furious 7 instead. "This is an A-typical plot," Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs says.
The story follows Leia, a young woman kidnapped and kept in a basement as a child, who returns home to a family she hardly remembers. With Isaacs as Ben the abductor, Cynthia Nixon portraying the girl's mother, Marcy, and Ronan playing the abductee, the story unfolds with a unique perspective: A man who abducts a young girl isn't necessarily a bad guy.
"You don't see that very often in film," Ronan says, wrapping her hands around a cup of hot tea. "When Marcy is at the point when her child is about to grow up, she's just about to go to school, and all of a sudden she has all this love and need to have someone need her, it's taken away from her," Ronan explains. "By the time she gets her child back, she doesn't know how to handle all the emotions she has."
Over the course of the film, we see the film's would-be bad guy's true intentions: He, like all of us, just wants someone to love. "It's a very special, complicated relationship. We all have these relationships with a boyfriend or a girlfriend..." Ronan says before being interrupted by Isaacs. "Or our parents, who did great and terrible things to us or for us," he adds.
"People have to work out for themselves whats good or bad about her being kept in the basement," Issacs says. "Ultimately, what you pray for, is beyond the credits, [audiences] start thinking about their own relationships. We, all of us, love to be validated by the world. We've witnessed the massive explosion of social media, everyone connecting their entire world by seeing how many followers they have."
When Leia is returned home to her biological family, her world is turned upside down all over again. She's ripped away from the man she knew as her father, and returned to another adult she has little memory of.
"Marcy basically takes on the role of Ben," Ronan says. "She keeps her in one room. By the end of the film she becomes so consumed by protecting her by the big bad world, and wanting to keep her safe, and forcing her to love her, that she puts her in exactly the same position that she was in with Ben."
Ronan can understand the motivation for each of her character's protectors. Both Ben and Marcy have a stake in Leia's well-being, both want to have her unconditional love, and both are overbearing in their nurturing. "Marcy's wanting to protect Leia and keep her safe, it is an excuse. She hasn't had anywhere to put this love for 17 years and when a woman has a child, that's your role in life. My friend just had a baby, and she realized when she had her kid that it's what she's here for," Ronan says.
Long-time actor Isaacs has two daughters of his own, Ruby and Lily, and while he often plays the antagonist on screen (you'll remember him as wand-toting Lucius Malfoy in the uber-popular Harry Potter series), his instinct as father is ever-present. "I have children, and its a dizzying thing that comes with the absolute love they give you," he says. "To have someone, who is the only thing in the entire world, your utterly responsible for, you think and feel for everything they become. For me as Ben, it was the overwhelming narcassism in wanting to be solely responsible for another person's entire life, needed by someone that much. But It doesn't turn him into a monster, at least in my mind."
"It makes you think about your own situation as well," Ronan concludes.
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