Charlayne Woodard talks M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable, Split, Glass

Pictured, Charlayne Woodard, right. Anya Taylor-Joy, left. Courtesy of Think Jam.
Pictured, Charlayne Woodard, right. Anya Taylor-Joy, left. Courtesy of Think Jam. /

In an exclusive interview with Hidden Remote, Charlayne Woodard talks Unbreakable, Split, and Glass.

We were recently able to speak with Charlayne Woodard about her role in Glass and Unbreakable. Here’s the scoop on what to know about the movie and the franchise.

In M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, Charlayne Woodard once again took on the role she had in Unbreakable as Mrs. Price, the mother of Elijah Price, who is played by the ever-talented Samuel L. Jackson. Woodard is an actor who’s poise and talent is impossible to miss. She’s a powerhouse, and she’s also a wonderful person. Being a part of Glass was, however, something she didn’t see coming.

Here’s what Charlayne Woodard had to say about the fun roller coaster journey she’s been on with M. Night Shyamalan’s passion franchise.

HR: What was your overall experience like making Glass?

Woodard: Right from the beginning it felt like a gift from Heaven because, on a spring morning, I answer my phone and it’s Night, and he asked if I wanted to work again with him; which is, to me, the silliest question in the world — because, of course. And I said, “What are we doing?” He said, “Have you seen Split?” So I went to Split, and I’m wondering, what? He said, “See Split and call me back.” And I see Split, I’m watching, and then at the end, you see Bruce Willis sitting at that counter. And at that moment I knew what we were doing.

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I knew something about what we were doing. And then I had to wait the entire summer to get the script, right before the table read. Everything was top secret — top top top top top secret. So to have it all unfold like that was kind of exciting. And getting back together with the same crew from Unbreakable — it’s a real testament to Night’s brilliance and his leadership capability to keep a crew through all those years and all those films, you know?

But that was exciting. And to be back with Spencer, who is now the same age that Night was when we filmed Unbreakable — that was outrageous.

It was great. And then I found out that, of course, I’m older — had to wear prosthetics, which was a real challenge for me because I’m claustrophobic. (laughs) So I had to handle that. That was the only thing that made it so intense, but it also helped my work on the mother.

The fact that, there she is, that old, and having to put that in her body, you know? You’ve gotta meet the mask.

HR: So how did you do that? How did you take on those two age ranges so well?

Woodard: Well, first of all, I was truly informed by the face that they gave me. There’s this thing of — you have to read the mask. So once you have a face like that, then what else is happening? It’s not just her wrinkles, what else is happening? Something’s happening in her spine, something’s happening with that one bad knee. Something’s happening in her physicality and in her voice.

She doesn’t speak like I speak, because something happens to your chords when you look at the neck. Something has happened. But it was that face that really informed who she is. For me, it was all about the physicality. I had to meet that face. And it’s interesting because that face didn’t show up until the day before my first day on the set. (laughs)

So at first, I was like, oh, my Gosh, you know? And then it’s like — and I’m working tomorrow, Night!? And he said, if this doesn’t work out, we won’t do it tomorrow! But I did not want to be the one to hold up shooting.

HR: No, you were incredible. I watched the screener and you were top, top tier. 

Woodard: Oh, you’re so sweet.

HR: Yeah, you were incredible.

Woodard: Thank you.

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 15: (L-R) Charlayne Woodard, Spencer Treat Clark, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson attend the “Glass” New York Premiere at SVA Theater on January 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 15: (L-R) Charlayne Woodard, Spencer Treat Clark, James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson, M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson attend the “Glass” New York Premiere at SVA Theater on January 15, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) /

HR: I want to briefly ask you about James McAvoy, mister 21 personalities. What was it like interacting with him on set? What was he like when the cameras weren’t rolling?

Woodard: James McAvoy. His commitment and his brilliance with these characters, his commitment to the physicality of his character, and watching him before each take, staying in it and making sure that he was always as pumped as he needed to be — it was quite extraordinary and quite inspirational to see another actor work like that. It really was. Because I come from the theater; it’s a different thing.

On film, usually I just see everyone just sort of being themselves. But this one, this one was amazing, and I felt privileged to be there watching it all.

HR: That’s incredible. I have one more itty bitty, quick question about James McAvoy and we’ll move on: When he would transform into the beast, was he hitting the weights on set? What was going on there?

Woodard: Absolutely. He’s got his bands; he’s got resistance bands.

HR: Okay, so when he would go into ‘the beast’ personality, he was doing some working out?

Woodard: Oh, he could change his entire body.

HR: That’s incredible.

Woodard: That body changed. And yes, he had the bands. He had his trainer there, and you’d see him gettin’ it going because you gotta pump him up!

HR: That’s awesome. So out of the whole movie, Glass, what was your favorite scene to shoot? 

Woodard: My favorite scene to shoot was working with the doctor, Dr. Ellie. She’s a brilliant actress. I love her work. My favorite scene was sitting there talking with her and letting her know who my son is and what he’s been through. That’s my favorite scene.

I also loved the fact that Night took a scene that was cut from Unbreakable that I thought was one of my best scenes when my little boy is at the carnival and he is being broken on the tilt-a-whirl. I was so disappointed when I saw that that scene wasn’t in Unbreakable. And then to sit there and see it at the screening, to see where he put that, the mother when she was younger; oh man, that blew me away. I screamed.

HR: That really was a good scene. 

Woodard: It was a good scene. And when I saw him after I just hugged him because, man — I didn’t know he was gonna do that. So those were my two favorites, working with Sarah Paulson and seeing that other scene come to life.

MORE: Glass movie review: Is this the Unbreakable sequel we deserve?

HR: So where do you see this franchise going in the future? Have you heard anything from M. Night Shyamalan or anybody?

Woodard: No.

HR: Just in the waiting game right now?

Woodard: You know, lighting already struck twice with me. I didn’t see it coming. But, you know, I can’t tell, and… with Night’s work you cannot tell.

HR: True.

Woodard: Because right when you think you have figured something out, Night will put you in another direction and change everything. So I don’t know, and I can’t begin to tell you what I think is going to happen — because it’s Night.

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Glass is now available digitally and will be available on Blu-ray, 4K UHD, and DVD on April 16th. Be sure to stay up on all the latest about Charlayne Woodard