(5.) My first visit. The moment I first stepped onto the sound stage and saw the set for Room itself: a wooden shed, but with big square ‘blacks’ (to vary the light through the skylight) angled above it so it looked like a weird little Noah’s Ark, dwarfed by the huge space. Inside, the shed was so much more shabby and grubby than I’d imagined it, and I realized one important way the movie would be different from the book: in the novel, we only see through Jack’s eyes, but the film would have to pull off the trick of showing us how things really looked in that prison cell as well as the rose-tinted way Jack saw them.
(4.) The moment Jacob shouted out to warn a Grip not to trip over a wire, and I realized it was possible for a child actor to star in several films, with hordes of adults fussing over his every move, and still be a nice, ordinary kid.
(3.) The wonderfully perfectionist Production Designer really wanted snow for the final scene, in which Jack and Ma emerge into a wintry world after saying goodbye to the shed in which they spent all those years. But apparently fake snow – made of potato – is hell to clean up, and would have really eaten into the budget. So no to snow. (A previous morning, when we didn’t want any, there was lots of snow that had to be hosed away with hot water.) But then on the day, Mother Nature provided: faint but visible snowflakes spiraling poignantly down on Ma and Jack as they walked hand in hand into their future.
(2.) There was one strikingly handsome Assistant A.D. who seemed so competent that he was always there when you needed something… and I only realized at the Wrap Party, when two of him in matching white suits walked in, that they were a pair of twin brothers. It was a shock reveal more like a movie than real life.
(1.) Paradoxically, some of my favourite parts of the film are details – actions or spoken lines – that I didn’t write. But the thing is, whenever the actors improvised something good, it was in character, and in the spirit of my script. So I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t necessarily matter how many lines get cut, and when people ask me ‘So what percentage of the book got changed?’, I tell them that’s the wrong question. What matters is, has the magic survived the translation from one art form to the other? One example: there’s a scene I put in the script in which Ma and Jack are lying in the bath and she tells him the Selkie (Fisherman captures Woman from the Sea) legend. In the book it’s a key reference, not only emphasizing the timeless, archetypal element’s of Ma’s story of captivity, but gesturing towards the possibility of escape. What made it into the finished film, instead of that conversation, was a wordless scene of Jack and Ma in the bath, splashing each other relaxedly: two people who love each other, on a tiny planet of their own, with all the time in the world. Which works even better.