Australian director Warwick Thorton is back after his highly praised film Samson & Delilah, which won the prize of best debut at Cannes and has set the trajectory of his latest film The New Boy. Thorton’s film The New Boy is about a nine-year-old Aboriginal orphan boy who arrives in the dead of night at a remote monastery run by a renegade nun. The boy’s presence interrupts the balance of spiritual and survival struggles.
Thornton talks about how he revisited the story of The New Boy and its long development process.
The story is like an old bottle of wine, it was a little bitter at the beginning and it just had to age and mature.
Thronton wrote the script when he was young but took the time to let it mature alongside him to tell the story he wanted. Along with the new development of the script, Sister Eileen played by Cate Blanchett was added in place of the Priest. Blanchett explained how she elbowed her way into the script because she admired Thornton’s work and wanted to explore different themes together. When the pandemic hit, Blanchett took the opportunity of Zoom and had many chats with Thornton discussing the role of Sister Eileen. “Changing the gender of my character from the Priest to Sister Eileen opened up that side of the story in an interesting way,” Cate Blanchett states in an interview with Deadline.
Having Cate Blanchett take the role of Sister Eileen allowed for new themes revolving around religion and Indigenous spirituality that Warwick Thornton took the chance to explore in The New Boy.