“The Good Nurse” tells the true story of Charles Cullen, a seemingly empathetic New Jersey nurse who was later revealed to be a serial killer. But as a substitute of a tawdry potboiler, this adaptation of Charles Graeber’s 2013 true-crime ebook is a fragile drama concerning the friendship between Charlie and one in all his co-workers, a lonely, ailing single mom named Amy Loughren, who thought she’d discovered on this kindly stranger a assist system and a confidant.
Amy befriends the brand new rent, partially, as a result of she acknowledges in Charlie the identical heat, nurturing method she herself exudes round her sufferers. But just like the viewer, Amy is seeing just one side of this candy, soft-spoken man: She’s not conscious he’s secretly injecting deadly medication into saline luggage, leading to a collection of mysterious deaths on the hospital.
The movie had been in improvement for a number of years, and for that total time its two stars have been decided to remain on the venture. No matter how darkish the fabric — and irrespective of how laborious it was to align their schedules — Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain wouldn’t let “The Good Nurse” go.
“I don’t know that in Hollywood that a movie’s been around for six years and all the main players stayed on and no one got replaced or abandoned ship,” Chastain says proudly.
The two actors are stress-free in a set on the London West Hollywood, reflecting on the hassle it took to deliver the film to fruition. From the beginning, they agreed they wouldn’t do it with out one another — or “A Hijacking” director Tobias Lindholm, realizing he’d insist on utter authenticity for this portrait of working-class life and America’s dysfunctional healthcare system. (He even made his stars attend nursing faculty.)
And simply as Amy and Charlie develop shut over the course of the movie, forming a surrogate household of types along with her youngsters, an analogous tight connection developed between the celebrities through the shoot, which passed off on the tail finish of the pandemic. “Jess and I both have young families,” says Redmayne, “and Jess and her husband were very sweet at introducing us to people in New York and Connecticut. Even though the subject matter was intense, it was also enjoyable — we did have wonderful weekends.”
The Netflix movie is advised from Amy’s perspective, observing as she grinds away on the evening shift at her native ICU. As a part of her analysis, Chastain frolicked with the true Loughren, curious to know extra about cardiomyopathy, a critical situation that compelled Loughren to hunt a coronary heart transplant. But Chastain additionally hoped to realize insights into the girl’s psyche, which ended up making the story private for her.
“I asked her, ‘Why did you choose to be a night nurse?’” Chastain recollects. “I thought she might say, ‘Oh, the money’s better.’ Instead, [it’s] because she’s a single mom: ‘I wanted my girls to think that they had a stay-at-home mom.’ I was raised by a single mom, and [I responded to] this idea that this woman is working all night taking care of others — she goes home, she gets to sleep a little bit when her kids are at school, does grocery shopping, laundry, housework, and then takes care of them when they’re out of school. Then she’s back at work — there’s no moment where she’s really taking care of herself. It’s crazy that this woman who needed a heart transplant has the biggest heart in the world.”
“The Good Nurse” is ostensibly a thriller, however Lindholm fought the clichés of the serial-killer style, leaving Charles Cullen’s motivations deliberately opaque — a call Redmayne discovered riveting. “The last third [of the book] is our story in the film,” says Redmayne. “But the other two-thirds are his background.” It was there that he started to grasp the extent of Cullen’s brutal upbringing — Cullen was abused by his sister’s companion, misplaced his mom in a automotive accident when he was in his teenagers, and survived at the very least one suicide try.
But discovering the appropriate steadiness of menacing and benign took Redmayne some time, not only for his personal efficiency but additionally when it comes to by no means letting the viewers assume that Amy is silly for trusting Charlie. “We all three talked about this,” says Chastain, protecting of Loughren. “I said, ‘You guys have got to help me out here, because Amy’s not an idiot. If I see something that’s weird [about Charlie], I’m not letting that guy around my kids.’”
The trick for Redmayne was making Charlie placid, merely hinting on the torment beneath. “When you look closely, he is self-soothing,” Redmayne says about learning footage of Cullen. “[He’s] touching the fabric of his clothes or feeling the back of his hair, his ear lobes.” Redmayne illustrates all this as he speaks. “The traumatized 7-year-old was something that I tried to just make sure was in me in all moments.”
Eventually, although, Charlie will explode, the character’s ugliness spewing out within the movie’s closing sequences. To get there, Redmayne returned to a high-profile function from his youth.
“One of my first ever jobs was with a film that Robert De Niro directed [‘The Good Shepherd’],” he relates. “He had this way of directing emotional scenes [where] he would keep the camera rolling — you would get to the end of the scene, and he would ask you to go straight back to the [top]. It was a way of building up the textures, the layers. If a scene allows you to start in a broken place and just get more broken, it’s an interesting and helpful technique. And so I asked Tobias if we could do that.”
Redmayne recollects that “we did lots of takes” of the rawest scene in “The Good Nurse,” during which Charlie has been arrested and is grilled by authorities. Crucially, the volcanic sequence was held till the tip of manufacturing. “It was a long, long day,” he says. “Those were 10-, 15-minute takes. But there was a release to it after having played a character so suppressed for months.”
Chastain stays moved by an inherent contradiction inside Loughren: “She put Charlie behind bars, but she loved him,” she says. The actress’ sympathetic chemistry along with her co-star sells that contradiction. But for Redmayne, “The Good Nurse” is a far cry from the spectacle of the “Fantastic Beasts” movies which have occupied a lot of his time just lately. Was it laborious to shift right into a quieter register?
“I love making those huge symphonic films,” he says of the Harry Potter prequel franchise. “I love that company of actors — it’s old-school filmmaking of scale. But because of the nature of them, retaining intimacy is hard.” By comparability, the close-quarters expertise of “The Good Nurse” allowed him to “mine scenes for everything that they’re worth to try every possible alternative.”
He smiles. “That was wonderful. It was delicious. It was what I was dreaming of.”