Wicked Little Words in the Wicked Little Letters film…..

Wicked Little Words in the Wicked Little Letters film.....

When British writer-comedian Jonny Sweet first stumbled across the true story of two warring neighbours and a series of wicked little words in filthy-worded, anonymous letters that rocked the nation in the early 1920s, he quickly knew it would make for a great basis for his first movie script. “I remember being filled with adrenaline because I was just looking for the kind of story where I could write something that could feel really original and funny but with meaning to it,” says Sweet.

“I just think that because of the time period and because of the absurd opinions of people of that time, it allowed you to be quite silly, while also being quite probing, unexpected and properly dramatic at the same time,” he says. “It was that mixture of tones that I thought felt quite appetising”.

Sweet was keen to explore the extremes of behaviour and the wicked little words between the two women and when he pitched the idea to STUDIOCANAL, they loved the idea and the company began developing it with Sweet through his company People Person Pictures, which he co-founded with Simon Bird. “When I was outlining it at first, I was getting too mucked in with the reality of the case and finding ways to incorporate every detail but as soon as I had a structure that I felt made sense and that this was more about the characters than the events, once I landed them it came very easy to write.”

The script, whilst largely comedic, does have a mix of tones and had some dramatic foundations to it. Knowing this, Sweet and STUDIOCANAL knew that they would need to cast an actor who could straddle the two and Olivia Colman became the first name to spring to mind. They sent the script to Colman and her writer-producer husband Ed Sinclair. “I fell in love with the script instantly,” says Sinclair. “It’s glorious as it’s about these women who have the power to take these men down and each other in certain ways. The balance of heart and humour was just brilliant.” Colman’s first read of Sweet’s script had her “laughing out loud” and the pair immediately decided to come aboard and produce the project through their South Of The River banner.

And so to those wicked little words. “Bad language is absolutely at the heart of the story,” says Sharrock. “Rose throws bad language around freely but what you never see her do is attack somebody with it, she doesn’t use words as a weapon. In the letters the words are used as weapons, but that’s down to the person writing them.” Buckley agrees that language is almost its own character in WICKED LITTLE LETTERS, noting that language and the passion behind something which is said can have an untethered quality to it.

“There’s so much emotion in letting those words out – both good and bad – and it’s full of passion and also a guilt that comes with it,” she says. “Rose couldn’t do it enough and it was a release for her whereas for Edith it was the same. It was also such good fun on the set. There’s nothing better than a good curse and you know you’ve really hit the jackpot when the whole crew breaks down laughing at something you’ve just said.”

We chat to writer Jonny Sweet and director Rhea Shurrock about the sweary film….

related feature : The Good Boys sex dolls and swearing………

Related feature: our Wicked Little Letters instagram reel


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