The buzz at the New York premiere of “The Little Stranger” was all about the film’s star Ruth Wilson.
But the noise wasn’t just about the movie — questions surrounding her abrupt departure from Showtime’s “The Affair” continue to grow more pitched.
On the red carpet, Wilson only consented to being interviewed by a pool of reporters, with each journalist limited to asking her one question.
Just hours before, Showtime pushed back on speculation that Wilson asked to leave the show because she was paid less than her male co-stars.
“We can’t speak for Ruth, but heading into season four everyone agreed the character’s story had run its course,” the network said in a statement. “Ultimately, it felt like the most powerful creative decision would be to end Alison’s arc at the moment when she had finally achieved self-empowerment. The impact of her loss will be felt as the series concludes next season. We thank the many fans who embraced the character of Alison and especially thank Ruth for her indelible work over the past four seasons.”
Asked to comment on Showtime’s statement, Wilson only said, “I’m just not allowed to talk about it.” That’s a variation of a line she offered Thursday on “CBS This Morning” — a vague response that only intensified speculation that her exit from the series was an unhappy one.
[Spoiler alert] On the show, Wilson’s character Alison is killed off. It wasn’t a fate that Wilson necessarily dreamed of for her on-screen alter-ego.
“I had no say on how the character’s arc was going to end or how she would die,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, Wilson’s “Little Stranger” co-star Domhnall Gleeson jetted into New York City from the set of “Star Wars: Episode IX” — and he has the haircut to prove it.
“I’ve got my sideburns grown out again,” the actor, who plays the mini-mutton-chopped General Hux in the science-fiction fantasy, told Variety on Thursday. Gleeson flew to the Big Apple for one day from London, where he’s been shooting his role as the villainous First Order military leader. “Star Wars: Episode IX” finds “The Force Awakens'” J.J. Abrams back behind the camera after handing off directing duties on “The Last Jedi” to Rian Johnson.
“I loved working with J.J. before and now it’s great that he gets to come back and complete the trilogy,” Gleeson said. “You can look forward to J.J. doing what he does so well. It will be epic, but it will also be surprising.”
“The Little Stranger” is a much more intimate affair than a sprawling “Star Wars” adventure, one that finds Gleeson playing Dr. Farady, a country physician who ingratiates himself with a bedraggled aristocratic family called the Ayres. As he draws closer to them, Farady gets increasingly obsessed with their estate, a crumbling mansion that may be haunted. Things take a turn for the Gothic.
“I always remember being younger and being scared at night,” Gleeson said. “I don’t believe in ghosts and yet at a certain time of night, you hear things move about the house and you begin to believe.”
The film reunited Gleeson with director Lenny Abrahamson; the pair previously worked together on “Frank.” Abrahamson, fresh off his Oscar-winning triumph “Room,” said he was drawn to the movie because it defies easy categorization. It’s scary, but not explicitly supernatural, and it’s as interested in depicting the dangers of social castes as it is in spooking audiences.
“It’s not an obvious monster thriller,” Abrahamson said. Instead, he argues, the film has as much to do with Farady’s anxiety in being born into a lower-class family and his envy for the Ayres’ lineage.
“Any social order that creates a hierarchy of groups, where one group is considered to have greater value than another, is profoundly destructive, not just for the people at the bottom, but for those at the top,” Abrahamson said. “The film is about the destructive effect of inequality and prejudice.”