Taylor John Smith on where singers sing and fashion
Where the Crawdads sing is a global phenomenon and one of the best-selling books of all time. How do you personally connect with this story?
When I first read it, it was the aspect of coming of age. One of my favorite movies growing up was Stand by meand there are many [coming-of-age] elements of that film, only from a woman’s point of view. I remember calling my sisters and telling them I got it [the part], and respond immediately. They were like, “Wait, Where the Crawdads sing?! ” And I said, “Yes.” And they said, “Shut up! Tate or Chase, who are you playing with? They never cared about anything I did before, and I told them Tate, and they said, ‘Oh, thank god’ and hung up. That’s all they need to know. If they care about it that much, I know it must be huge. And then I got to hear everyone else’s stories about when they read it and what they went through while reading it, especially during COVID for all its isolating aspects. … It connects a lot of people. I’m just excited to jump into it and be a part of it.
I imagine there’s some kind of pressure that comes with adapting this work. What can book fans expect from this movie?
Because Reese [Witherspoon] concerned, she wanted to make sure that this was a faithful adaptation and that there was no shortage of elements or moments that so many loved from the book. If we hadn’t had her lead, I don’t know if it would have worked out the right way. It has everything the book has — this beautiful romance, this devastating murder mystery — and the whole world in which it exists with its swamp and Barkley Cove beautifully captured in the film. . Creating such a world from an existing book is really hard to do, and Olivia Newman, our director, and Reese did an incredible job. At least in my mind, it was exactly what I imagined. I was blown away every day on set to see it for real.
There is a particular set that immediately puts you in Crawdads world?
Immediately, Kya’s shack. I remember it wasn’t even built yet, but it was in this beautiful lagoon where they had this dock that they built just for the boat. I don’t know how they came up with it, but exactly how I pictured it in my head with the little garden and swing and just opening the water for miles with drooping Spanish moss. I said, “This is great.” I’m so excited, and we haven’t even started filming yet. I was excited to see it fitted with all of her drawings. They did a wonderful job.