Watch: Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance on the true story behind The Silent Twins
The Silent Twins star Letitia Wright said she always knew the real life story of June and Jennifer Gibbons would resonate with audiences on-screen.
“I always thought to myself, if this was ever made into a movie, it would be really impactful because it can reach the masses, and then also their side of the story can be told,” the Black Panther star, who plays June, tells Yahoo.
“You can see the clear injustice that happens to them, but also you can see the ways in which they are so beautiful and creative.”
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“It is an education and an inspiration,” adds Tamara Lawrance, June's twin Jennifer. “I think this may be special in highlighting a story in recent history.”
Directed by Agnieszka Smoczynska — and based on Marjorie Wallace’s book of the same name — The Silent Twins tells the story of the Welsh sisters who would only communicate with each other, portraying the events that led to their infamous incarceration at Broadmoor in the 1980s.
For Wright’s co-star Lawrance, research was all her to help perfect the role of Jennifer.
“In the book, they have verbatim excerpts from the diaries. So I think it was also useful to get into the psyche of the twins through that.”
“Between movement, dialect, costume, and working with younger versions of June and Jennifer (played by Eva-Arianna Baxter and Leah Mondesir-Simmonds) helped us to find a shared language and create that on-screen chemistry.”
The Gibbons sisters were not always silent. Born in 1963, their family travelled a lot through their father's RAF career before settling in Pembrokeshire, where they were bullied for being different. They began mirroring each other's behaviour, eventually becoming virtually mute in school.
Intense bursts of physical fighting could erupt between June and Jennifer seemingly with little warning. By the age of eight, the twins had stopped communicating with the outside world, but they developed their own secret language.
Years of therapy followed, before falling in with the wrong crowd after leaving school, and they were institutionalised as 19-year-old, serving an indefinite sentence inside Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital.
Even though their story has been highly publicised through books, news, articles, and documentaries, there’s still anticipation in playing two real-life people.
“There is a little bit more pressure. A lot of research has to go into it,” explains Wright. “You don't want to be mediocre. You don't want to do a caricature of that person or misrepresent them.”
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“I tend to approach it by asking what the essence of this person's experience is. What is the energy that you want to put out there into the world that represents them in the right way?”
While silence defined their public image, the twins were also known for the volatile relationship between them. For Lawrance, the film’s fight scenes were key to capturing their connection.
“I remember shaking because the adrenaline was really running through my body. Obviously, you're not pretending to fight.”
“We had a great stunt choreographer, and those scenes were important to show the volatility of their relationship.”
For both Wright and Lawrance, Silent Twins is a film they are hoping will open audience’s eyes to who June and Jennifer really are.
“Seeing Tamara bring this beautiful portrayal of Jennifer to life has been really wonderful to see,” Wright adds.
“I've learned a bunch and artistically it's been really fulfilling.”
The Silent Twins is in UK cinemas now. Watch a trailer below.