Toronto: Sarah Paulson Talks "Big, Fat Greedy Play" to Star in 'The Goldfinch'

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Sarah Paulson

"I put on a wig and spray-tanned and brought some cigarettes into the audition room," the actress said during a Toronto Film Festival press conference.

American Horror Story star Sarah Paulson on Sunday recalled obsessively preparing to audition for John Crowley's The Goldfinch movie adaptation, which has a world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival tonight.

Paulson told a TIFF presser for the Ansel Elgort-starring art forgery drama that Crowley may not have envisioned her for the part of the girlfriend of Theo's father, "but I loved the book so much, I made a big, fat greedy play for it," she said about her role, pulled from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Donna Tartt.

"I put on a wig and I spray-tanned and I brought some cigarettes into the audition room and screamed in my car for an hour to get a raspier voice," Paulson recalled.

Crowley agreed he didn't initially see Paulson in the film when her name first came up. "OK, that's odd," he told the Toronto media. "But then she did what she described, and it was mind-blowing," he added in admiration. 

Luke Wilson, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Jeffrey Wright and Nicole Kidman round out the cast for The Goldfinch, which sees Elgort as Theodore Decker, who survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum when he is 13 that costs the life of his mother.

The film follows Theodore from his childhood to early adulthood as he sets out on a number of adventures that include relocating to Las Vegas to live with his deadbeat father (Wilson), as well as his eventual involvement with art forgeries.

Kidman told the presser that, given the sheer volume of her acting roles these days, including work on the Big Little Lies and The Undoing TV series and roles in movies like Destroyer, the challenge with The Goldfinch was playing the late mother to a son struggling with grief with few words on the page. "The challenge for me with her is the quietness and the stillness and still having to portray so many complex emotions with no dialogue really, or very little," she explained. "Every single word has to be mean so much." 

The Goldfinch, from Warner Bros. and Amazon Studios, is set to bow in theaters Sept. 13.