Joan Allen on Playing the Mother of a Kidnapped Child in ‘Room’


Whether she has the lead in a movie or is just playing a supporting role, you can always count on Joan Allen to give a compelling performance. In ‘Room’ she plays Nancy, a mother reunited with her daughter, Joy (Brie Larson), who was kidnapped years before. She also discovers Joy is now a mother herself to five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a product of the abuse she suffered while in captivity. As thrilled as she is to have her daughter back in her life, Nancy now has to face the immense struggle of acclimating Joy back into the life she was taken away from and forging a relationship with her surprise grandson. It’s a journey full of awkwardness, but also one which comes to be filled with hope.

Allen appeared at the “Room” press day held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California and talked about her experience making the movie which was one of the most acclaimed movies of 2015. While it deals with such dark themes as kidnapping, abuse and captivity, she also feels “Room” examines the many truths of parenthood. I asked her what kind of research she did to better understand her character and the nightmarish situation she is forced to endure.

Joan Allen: “I just did some reading about abductions and parents. I looked up in particular Terry Probyn who is Jaycee Dugard’s mother. I was hoping to speak with her but I wasn’t able to make that happen, but she had some YouTube footage of what it was like to be reunified. She said one thing that was very helpful to me, that it was a very difficult thing to reunify and you need a lot of help in order to do it. In fact, she and her daughter have created a foundation that helps people and families in this situation unify not only from abduction cases but veterans who had long periods away in the war zone where they’ve been traumatized. It’s very difficult for families to find a way when they’ve had such radically different experiences for extended periods of time and are sad and traumatized by them. And I’m a mother of a 21-year-old and have been sufficiently scared enough by various choices she’s made in life (laughs) to understand what that’s like, to feel that scared for your child and how it’s a ripple effect. It’s certainly not an ouch contest. If it were, the mom would have the biggest ouch. But everybody has huge ouches and that’s just the way it is, and what I’m so moved about by all the characters including Jack is that everybody is trying to move forward and they don’t really know how. They are just not really a throw in the towel kind of people. There is that forward movement, no matter how hard it is, to try and figure it out and to be loving and to try and understand the best way to move forward and get closer to a whole family life back because it’s a tremendous loss. It’s a tremendous devastation to not have that. But they are characters that do try and that do move forward and there’s a tremendous amount of love there, and that’s why I think that the story really reflects that.”

“Room” is now available to own and rent on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital.


One comment

  1. Making a Cinephile · February 1, 2017

    Nice article!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s