Patrick Wilson on Getting Cast in Hard Candy: “They came to me and threw it my way. I don’t really know where else it was. I know that they had the hardest time, and rightfully so, looking for the girl. It’s a very difficult character and I’m so glad they went the way they did. We have this idea of the young girl on the Internet, luring the man in with her sexuality and with her overt [behavior]. We all try to justify it - men and women. She has a very specific look. She looks very young. And she looked even younger when we shot the movie, a few years ago. So finding someone who had that strength and passion, and who is a very well-read, astute young woman, but still had the innocence to betray the look, was a real find.”
No Bonding on This Particular Set: Patrick Wilson’s co-star Ellen Page said they never got to know each other while shooting the film, and Wilson confirmed that’s true. “Just schedule-wise, we shot this film in 18 ½ days and we were pulling long days to shoot 10 or 12 pages of script a day. I didn’t really get to know anybody on the film, to be honest with you.
I’m a pretty private person anyway so it was easier, when you’re doing a film like this, to say, ‘Alright, see you tomorrow.’ It wasn’t, ‘Hey, let’s go out and get a drink.’ Also, she was 17 so we didn’t hang out a lot. I don’t mean to make light of it. Maybe it was just the nature of the film. But to give you a better answer than that, when you’re doing something like this . . . I didn’t really get to know anybody on ‘Angels in America’ really, as well. When you’re working on a subject like this and you’re pulling long, physically and emotionally exhausting days… I really just wanted to go home and be with my girlfriend and talk to my friends, and just get away and take the clothes off.”
The Reaction of People Who’ve Seen Hard Candy: Wilson said, “I wish I had some kind of cool answer. I haven’t been around a lot of people who’ve seen it. I think men and women have different reactions to the film, but also to me. I think guys, certainly for one or two of the scenes, are like, ‘Wow, I feel for you.’ I think the most surprising thing for people is when they go, ‘You know, I found myself really being sympathetic for you, and I didn’t like myself for that.’ Or, ‘It was really strange for me to care.’ And that’s great; that was the goal.
From the opening frame it’s like, ‘This is not going to be good.’ I’m not even making light of it. Before people even appear on the screen, [you know that] this guy is up to no good. So even when the tables turn, you don’t know who to like. Reactions are varied. I’d love to talk to somebody who just says, ‘Man, I hated you.’ But I haven’t really met anybody like that yet. Although, to be honest with you, I don’t go sit in a lot of screenings of it.”
The Most Difficult Scene to Film: “Probably the first one, to be honest with you,” revealed Wilson. “Not the first one we shot, but the first one in the film. I remember a couple years ago reading something about how on ‘French Connection,’ with the opening scene, Gene Hackman had a tough time because it was his first day of shooting and he had to rough him up in that big opening sequence. He just had to be very violent with the criminal, chasing him down and getting him on the ground. And they had to re-shoot it at the end. He said by the end of the movie he nailed it because he lived with this guy. I felt like that was a very similar experience.
We shot most of the film in sequence, in the house, and then we went back and shot the opening scene. Weirdly, that opening scene was much more intimate. Once you’re confined to a table, your objectives are pretty clear - get out, get free, do what you have to do, try 9,000 ways to convince this girl. That’s not easy, but clear. But that first scene, when you’ve been hiding behind the Internet and you see who’s opposite you, that was tough. It was tough to talk about and decide the best dialogue, how to shoot it, what we’re going for. I just wanted to be very clear because, if the audience isn’t with you then, or they just think you’re an awful person from that point, than they’re not going to care about the rest of the movie. So I wanted to play it as charming as I could and just lure her in.”