Released in 2018, “Without a sound” made an impression thanks to its concept. For this, the actors have actually learned sign language. They could count on the presence of Millicent Simmonds, who is really deaf.
Without a sound : sacred success
John Krasinski, most famous for his acting skills (The Office, Jack Ryan), embarked on writing and directing his first horror film with Without a sound (2018). The story of a family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world after the appearance of monsters that attack at the slightest sound. Carried by him, and by his wife Emily Blunt (but also by the young Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe), Without a sound has been a huge success. It must be said that the film makes an impression thanks to its themes, its perfectly developed concept, its endearing characters and above all its precise writing.
Nominated for an Oscar in the Best Sound Editing category, Without a sound also earns more $340 million in worldwide box office receipts. Since, Quietly 2 saw the light of day, with equal success. Currently, the 20th Century Studio is working on a third component entitled A Quiet Place: Day One.
The indispensable presence of Millicent Simmonds
For the purposes of the film, the entire cast was obliged learn sign language with Douglas Ridloff, the specialist on the subject on the set. All actors except Millicent Simmonds, who is actually deaf. She lost her hearing at the age of 1 due to an overdose of medication. Thanks to the help of her mother who teaches her sign language, Millicent Simmonds manages to overcome her handicap.
She became passionate about the seventh art at a very young age and took acting lessons from the age of 3. She took her first steps in the cinema in the short film Color the World. But it’s in Without a sound and The Museum of Wonders (2017) that she begins to make herself known.
As a young deaf girl, Millicent Simmonds obviously immediately identified with the character of Regan Abbott:
She feels rejected, out of place, or not sure how best to help her family. And she really depends on her hearing aid, which she needs to communicate. I spent my time comparing myself to hearing people and wondering why I was born deaf. So I could really understand Regan’s emotions, and I used that to shape this character.
Help from Millicent Simmonds
For John Krasinski, the presence of Millicent Simmonds was obviousas he reports at the microphone of The Wrap :
I didn’t want a hearing actress playing deaf. We had an amazing actress (Millicent Simmonds), who happens to be deaf in real life. Which was sort of a non-negotiable thing for me.
Millicent Simmonds allowed John Krasinski to to dabble more in sign language. She helped the rest of the cast to refine their learning in the company of Douglas Ridloff. It was a real guide for the rest of the cast, as John Krasinski points out, still at the microphone of The Wrap :
Not only are you happy and honored to have a deaf actress in this role, but you also have a guide through this story. Because in our story, our daughter is deaf. I found myself asking him all the time, “Is this realistic?”. And she was in mode: “maybe we should do it more like that”. She wasn’t intimidated at all.
It must be said that the presence of Millicent Simmonds was almost essential for the smooth running of the film. And his interpretation of Regan Abbott brings a dose of realism necessary for the quality of the work. As a reminder, Without a sound takes place 95% in silence (according to The Wrap). Sign language was therefore a mandatory tool.