ComingSoon editor-in-chief Tyler Treese spoke The silent twins stars Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance about the film’s themes and the challenges that come with largely non-verbal acting.
“The silent twins is the astonishing true story of twin sisters who only communicated with each other,” the film’s synopsis reads. “As a result, they created a rich, fascinating world to escape the reality of their own lives”
Tyler Treese: Letitia, I know June Gibbons is very private, but were you able to talk to her or how did you prepare for this role?
Letitia Wright: Oh man, June lives a private life, and we’ve always tried to respect that from the beginning of the movie. We know that the author of the book, The silent twins by Marjorie Wallace … they are still in close contact. So we were able to receive some positive news that June was at peace with us making the film and that she is really proud of the outcome. For me it was about just leveraging the resources I had before, which was the book and the documentary and the resources of great collaborators, not only with Tamara, but with Hazel Holder [dialect coach for the film] or Agnieszka [Smoczynska, the film’s director] to bring it to life. So I’m really proud that we put the film together in a beautiful way.
Tamara, this is such a unique challenge for both of you as actors because so many of the scenes are non-verbal. It all goes beyond your body language. So can you talk to me about how you tackled that aspect of your performance?
Tamara Lawrence: Yes, we had an amazing movement director who had a background in dance and worked with us to find a common kinesphere and a synchronized movement, not only through the sonic landscape of the 80s, but also through portraits and animals and different things like f .eg to. We have just started spending a lot of time together to get more used to each other’s physical presence. I also believe that one trusts that communication is actually mostly nonverbal and that the twins said a lot through lack of movement or slowness of their movement. Everything was so specific as a form of protest, as a form of building this form of unity, as a form of isolating other people to protect themselves. So we were aware of these things through research and had a lot of help and resources to infuse them into the film.
Letitia, this story is basically about these two black artists who are not really able to be taken seriously or share their creations just because they are different from their surroundings. So what about the story that most connected with you and made you want to get on board?
Wright: Exactly that. That their voices were pushed to the side and how society treated them. The society around them, the society around them, didn’t understand them, and instead of working a little harder to understand them, they kind of threw them away. And I think for me, I’m a sucker for stories of justice and stories of people fighting against something bigger than them. I always like to portray it and bring it to the screen. Something that can be meaningful to the audience. So I feel like this story really embodies all of that. Not just strength, but creativity and just looking at society and showing us that if we get it wrong, if we misdiagnose young people in a way that’s unhealthy, we can destroy their lives. How do we learn from it? There are so many layers to this film and I love the conversations it starts, but like you said, there’s a lot to unpack.