Alexander Skarsgard filmed his role for “What Maisie Knew” in New York City in August 2011. The movie premiered at The Toronto Film Festival in September 2012. It is now available on DVD.
Drawing from classic American literature but rooted in today’s New York City, What Maisie Knew is an affecting portrait of a family coming apart, as seen from the vantage point of a six-year-old girl who watches the adults around her behave like children. Susanna (Julianne Moore) is a pushy but seductive rock and roll icon married to Beale (Steve Coogan), a charming, distracted art dealer.
Unnerved by the prospect of middle-aged stasis and drawn to other lovers, the couple eventually divorces. Maisie (Onata Aprile), their only child, is caught in the middle of it all, a flesh-and-blood bargaining tool who winds up being shuttled back and forth between her parents as they each attempt to start their lives afresh with new partners. Quietly precocious and a keen observer, Maisie begins to understand how essentially selfish, irresponsible and damaged her parents really are. With time their new relationships disintegrate as well, and Maisie is forced to consider whether or not she should try to construct for herself a whole new family altogether.
The genius of Henry James’ novel lay in its uncanny ability to capture its young protagonist’s developing consciousness over time. As rendered by the directing duo of Scott McGehee and David Siegel (who also dealt sensitively with complicated parent-child relations in The Deep End and Bee Season), this screen version conveys Maisie’s internal world not so much through language as images. In Aprile, they have found a truly remarkable child star, with a gaze that arrests us with its sincerity and knowingness. Hers is an unforgettable performance, beautifully matched by her adult co-stars Moore (feisty, compelling, and often clad in leopard-print outfits) and Coogan, who is by turns frustrating and endearing in an atypical dramatic role. A grown-up film about childhood and a scathing look at two childish grown-ups,What Maisie Knew is, above all, wickedly amusing and cuttingly insightful.
What Maisie Knew is a contemporary New York City revisioning of the Henry James novella by the same name. It revolves around unwitting 7-year-old Maisie, caught in the middle of a custody battle between her mother Susanna, an aging rock star, and her father, Beale, a major art dealer
“Susanna hooks up with a scorching-hot slacker barman, played by Alexander Skarsgård. An army of lady-fans will swoon at his stepdad-in-shining-armour routine. A touching, heartbreaking film”. (Time out)
Alexander and Onata melted hearts during the promotional tour.
Here is a short video taken while Alex was waiting to start filming:
Photo gallery below contain images taken during filming.
TIFF premiere of the film: