Millicent Simmonds stars as Rose in the Todd Haynes directed film Wonderstruck. The film follows two plot lines set 50 years apart and features deaf characters. Simmonds’ Rose is deaf, as is the actress, and she felt the film created an insightful dialogue between those in the hearing and deaf communities.

“The first time I read the script, I was very moved, actually in a very great way because he got everything right, Brian Selznick,” Simmonds told uInterview Founder Erik Meers. Selznick wrote both the book from which the film was adapted and the screenplay. “He understood the deaf experience. It wasn’t just about not hearing things, and it made me fascinated. I also read his book and I felt the same way, I felt so connected to the story. And I actually thought the person who wrote it was deaf, and when I found out he wasn’t, I was so amazed [and] surprised. Brian Selznick brought forth the same story in the script. He did amazing research and I was struck by his understanding of us.”

Simmonds’ co-stars, Julianne Moore and Oaks Fegley, are not deaf actors, but they did play deaf characters, though Simmonds felt no need to teach them about being deaf for one simple reason. “They did all of their research beforehand. There was an American Sign Language coach who taught them sign language, and who was a great consultant,” Simmonds explained. “So by the time I got there, they had really understood everything. And Oakes Fegley, he tried to simulate the experience of not being able to hear, so it really came to his understanding of that character. Julianne Moore learned so much sign language and she was always wanting to know more. It was so much fun working with both of them.”

As for working with such a big name as Julianne Moore, Simmonds says she was very nervous. “This was my first time working with her, and she was always my favorite actress from the time I was young… so when it was time to work through a scene and when they called ‘Action,’ I was so nervous. I kept thinking, ‘oh no what if I mess up, I’ll be so embarrassed, here I am working with the Julianne Moore.’ But she made me feel so comfortable, she made me feel so competent. She just said, ‘take your time, wait until you find it.’ I couldn’t believe she was telling me to take my time and helping me fee competent. she was very direct and helpful in our scenes.”

Wonderstruck was released Oct. 20. See the trailer below.

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