Charlie Plummer (The Clovehitch Killer, Lean On Pete) stars in Words on Bathroom Walls as Adam, a teeanger who is diagnosed with a mental illness. Although he forms a bond with fellow student Maya (Taylor Russell), Adam’s daily challenges understandably puts a strain on their friendship as well as causes strife with his family (Molly Parker is his mother and Walton Goggins plays the mom’s live-in boyfriend). During our interview, Plummer talked about staying in the moment as an actor and why Running On Empty is one of his favorite films.
Based on Julia Walton’s novel, Words On Bathroom Walls also stars Lobo Sebastian, AnnaSophia Robb, and Devon Bostick as the hallucinations that live in Adam’s (Charlie Plummer) mind.
Even though he’s prescribed new medication, that is obviously a permanent solution for Adam’s mental illness. Maya (Taylor Russell), a supportive new friend, as well as the continued love of his mother (Molly Parker) serve as Adam’s support system (he has a strained relationship with his mom’s boyfriend).
During our chat, Plummer talked about the “beauty of acting” and how he has grown as an artist since his first feature King Jack.
Whether it’s something like Lean On Pete or Words On Bathroom Walls, what is the key for you as an actor in regards to staying in the moment?
Plummer: First of all, great question. I think it does vary from project to project. I think for me the thing I try to bring it back to that place of really warming yourself up to that moment and then Once you’re there trying to be as present as possible.
That depends on the project. In this instance, I had my own walls to bust down of just preconceived ideas of “Oh you don’t know enough schizophrenia” (and) “You don’t know enough about this topic” and making sure those weren’t all in my head before we started.
That I felt like I had a real bed of knowledge to fall back on when it comes to this topic. That was really important so that when I am in that moment I can be just present in that. And not be in my head about is this how this works, is this generally the experience, does this make sense? (The research is) where I found a lot of strength.
A lot of it comes down to a good script and making sure that’s in place too. Nick Naveda who wrote the script was on set the entire time as well and that was so helpful.
That’s the beauty of acting too. You never really know if you’re going to get it. If in that present moment you can pull off what you are trying to do. It’s that trying and hopefully succeeding . . . I hope that answered the question somewhat. It’s a hard question to answer.
Can you name one of your favorite movies and what is it about this film that still resonates with you?
Plummer: My little brother asked last week what my favorite of all time was and I couldn’t answer him. A movie that I go (see) quite a bit and I watched while making this movie is Running On Empty. (It’s) a Sidney Lumet movie.
It’s not that the movie is an epic movie in any way, shape or form. Just the performances always get me and the humanity in all of the performances too really gets me. And the dialogue and the space in between. I think Lumet is just so good with that stuff. That always just kind of hits home for various reasons for me.
That’s the movie I go back to quite often. I think I’ve watched it a couple times in quarantine as well. I don’t even know why. The whole cast, the look of it all, it just really sticks with me every time.
When you look back on your work in King Jack and where you are now, what are some of your thoughts regarding your acting journey?
Plummer: I think at the time I had no idea what I was doing. Now I have a little bit more of an idea of what I was doing. I think it brings me to a place of wondering where I’ll be in another five years. Or even five years after that.
I’m just really grateful for that experience. It was my first time working on a film and it was so wonderful and everything that you hoped a first time experience would be. Even though it wasn’t glamorous in any sense or anything like that, but that whole crew and the connections made there, even though that sounds cliche, for me I had just turned 15 while we were making it – that meant more than the world.
That, in a lot of ways, has fueled where I am today about being just crazy passionate about being able to do do this. I love that experience. I haven’t watched that movie probably since it came out but from what I remember it’s a good little movie too!
Thank you Charlie for your time!
Thank you so much Greg. Have a great rest of your day.