Twins Thomas and Joseph Odwell talk about their first time acting on Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children
Reporter: Sasha Wickenden|Sub-Editor: Bella Dawe
Known for his unusual style and characters, director Tim Burton bought Ransom Riggs’ story to the big screen this year. Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children follows the story of Jake, who discovers a magical place where children with special powers reside along with their headmistress Alma Peregrine (Eva Green). The film follows Jake (Asa Butterfield) as he gets to know these children and the dangers that follow them.
First time actors Thomas and Joseph Odwell play quirky characters in the film. At aged 10, the brothers had no prior experience in the film industry however the twins’ mutual love for performing was apparent from their YouTube channel set up by father John Odwell. Together they would create short videos reanacting scenes from films along with home videos and special effects edits.
When asked about their characters, the twins described them as “very quirky, telepathic and slightly weird.” They also describe their characters to be “cute”; in the movie the boys fight over a teddy bear in one scene only to have it split in half by Miss Peregrine.
Thomas and Joseph auditioned for their parts in January 2014 at the Gillette Building, Isleworth after a friend told them about a movie agency looking for twin boys who looked a lot smaller for their age. Originally they were cast as body doubles however during rehearsals they were excited to find out they had been given the main roles amongst big actors such as Samuel L Jackson, Dame Judi Dench and Eva Green. Thomas explained that when they first had the casting they did not know anything about the film or that Tim Burton was directing. Joseph added that they were surprised to get the role and described their upcoming experiences as “Immensely exciting.”
During the six months of filming they had first-hand experience working at the renowned Pinewood studios. In preparation for portraying these mysterious characters, they underwent stunt high wire training in order to film a scene that involved flying out of a window. Thomas described himself as being “fearless” when it came to filming these scenes, “the wired stunts on set didn’t phase me.” They also received motion training teaching them how to walk and pick things up in sync with their characters. The pair got to film on location in Wales, Blackpool and Belgium at Torenhof Castle which was used as the peculiar children’s home.
Having been fans of Tim Burton’s previous work, the young actors remained very professional. Joseph describes his former director as being a “nice, approachable and caring man.” During filming the cast and crew became very close, “We all became a big family” When the twins and their other young co-stars had time off they would all go swimming at their hotel together along with Tim who generously treated them to tickets to a pleasure beach.
The twins went on to reminisce on some of their most memorable moments during filming. Joseph talked about how Samuel L Jackson would add extras to his lines, “in the parlour scene when he comes back and says ‘BOO’ we weren’t expecting that and we all jumped for real. Whilst Thomas talked about their last day of filming at pinewood Studios, “Tim made a short speech and announced ‘it’s a wrap’, a day I’ll never forget.”
After finishing their first film, the pair also experienced promoting the movie at events and having merchandise with their faces on. The unique looking characters have quickly become very popular and an iconic image associated with the film. Like other famous twins in film such as the Grady Twins from the horror classic The Shining (1980), they have potential to become Hollywood hits. As a result, they have now gained a social media following – on Instagram alone they have gained 11.8k followers who regularly send them messages and fan art. Both humbled by the love they have received, Joseph said that; “it’s amazing to know we have so many people supporting us and the film, and the art out there is outstanding.”
Now returning to a life out of the peculiar loop, it is apparent that they both have talent and potential to do well in the film industry. Whether that’s together or solo, with both of them having a keen interest to act again who knows what the future will bring. Thomas however is not quite ready for theatre; “Just not on stage in front of a big audience…just yet.”