Steve Carell, Diane Kruger on the Messages of Hope and Acceptance in 'Welcome to Marwen'

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The film, which also stars Leslie Mann, Janelle Monae and Gwendoline Christie, held its Los Angeles premiere Monday night.

Welcome to Marwen tells the real-life story of Mark Hogancamp, a man who was attacked so violently that he loses all memory of his adult life. As a way to heal, he constructs an elaborate miniature WWII village called Marwen and builds an imaginary universe around his dolls. 

At the film's premiere Monday at the ArcLight Hollywood, star Steve Carell spoke about stepping into Hogancamp's shoes for the role, which he took on after seeing Marwencol, a 2010 documentary on Hogancamp's life. Carell met Hogancamp before portraying a version of him onscreen, saying he was "exactly what you'd hope he'd be. He's kind and generous, he's a special person. He literally healed himself, he turned something very ugly into something really beautiful." 

Of releasing this film in the political and cultural climate of 2018, Carell said that the story reflects values that have always been important to him. 

"Themes of love and hope and acceptance and ignorance and redemption, all of those things are evergreen," the star told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. "Beyond all of the themes that resonated, it's really fun. It's a fun, exciting, very different, quirky kind of movie."  

Diane Kruger, who plays a villain in the Marwen world, said that this film is important because of its message of accepting people of all types and finding light in darkness. "There's just a lot of bad things happening, not just in this country but in the world, and I think everybody can relate to being in a dark place," Kruger said. "It doesn't have to be as traumatic as what happened to Mark; even if you're just bullied in school I think everyone can relate to this feeling of hopelessness and being alone and not knowing how to get out of that. I think the movie just really shows that you can free yourself of all of this."  

To bring Hogancamp's creations to life, the film used advanced motion-capture technology to turn its stars into realistic-looking dolls. For Kruger, this was a first in her acting career, and admits that "day one was a little finding my footing. Then it became really freeing in a way because there was no setup, there was no set way and anything is possible so you kind of run with it."

Leslie Mann, who stars as Nicol, Hogancamp's neighbor and friend who also plays a character in Marwen, was new to working with motion capture and described it as "incredible." "Being able to wear this weird gray suit with sensors all over you and act in a scene with somebody where you have very few props and everything is very simple, and then look over at the monitor and watch yourself be instantly animated was very cool," Mann explained. 

Welcome to Marwen, directed by Robert Zemeckis, also stars Janelle Monae, Gwendoline Christie, Merritt Wever and Eiza Gonzalez. It hits theaters Dec. 21.