Journalist and author Jeannette Walls ’84 is back in the news discussing her best-selling 2005 memoir, The Glass Castle, which has been made into a movie and stars Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson as an adult Jeannette. The movie premieres in theaters nationwide on August 11. Walls recently visited Barnard’s campus to film a segment for CBS Sunday Morning and told CBS correspondent Martha Teichner, “I so desperately needed what Barnard had to offer me” – a respite from the chaotic, impoverished childhood that she chronicled in the memoir. She later told New York Magazine that it was a job at The Barnard Bulletin during her first year of college that drove her to apply for a paid position at New York - and from there a career was born.
Watch Walls’ CBS interview:
One point that Walls has addressed in a number of interviews is her trepidation around making the book into a movie. In a column for The Los Angeles Times, Walls shared a warning that a friend shared when her book was published: “Don’t let Hollywood get its hands on your story. It’s too complicated. They’ll Hollywoodize it.” Walls assured fans of the book, however, that the film’s director had a “passion for authenticity,” making the film feel true to life. Indeed, she told Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal that actor Woody Harrelson, who portrays her unstable, alcoholic father Rex, so accurately captured her father’s personality and body language that she cried after watching Harrelson in character during a visit to the film set.
Nearly 30 years after trading a cabin in Welch, West Virginia, for New York City, Walls now lives on a horse farm in Virginia with her husband, author John Taylor; she told The New York Times that her mother Rose Mary lives in a cottage on the property. Reflecting on her hardscrabble upbringing, she said, “I know I’ll be O.K. here. I wanted a place where I could go broke and still grow vegetables, bail water out of the creek and shoot deer. If worse comes to worst, I’ll survive.”
Watch a New York Times TimesTalks panel featuring Jeannette Walls, Brie Larson and Naomi Watts:
Watch the trailer for The Glass Castle:
Lede image photo credit: John Taylor/The New York Times