Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde
Kevin Wendell Crumb is one of the most fascinating, terrifying, complex and
wounded characters any actor could play. With 23 distinct personalities, Crumb
is a role that requires an actor with range, nuance and subtlety, because under
the monster that is The Beast, and the domineering personalities such as Dennis
and Patricia that make up The Horde, is the subsumed character of Crumb himself.
"Kevin is a guy who was abused horribly by his mother and as a result his mind
fragmented and dissociated. From that 23 other people were born," McAvoy says.
"He is somebody who has been in a kind of coma for large periods of his life
while other people have being conscious in his body. He's one of the many that
live in the body that used to be just his."
"I think of The Horde as a collective, some good people and some bad people.
I don't think of any of them as truly evil, but as people who are involved in
doing bad things, and there are reasons why they're doing them. Are there
reasons why they deserve to be captured and incarcerated and possibly punished?
Probably. But does that make them bad? I don't know about that."
In Glass, Crumb is confined in a cell that has been outfitted with a kind of
strobe, a hypnosis light. If one of his threatening personalities emerges, the
strobe will activate and trigger a different personality to replace it. The
Beast within him has battled David Dunn to a stalemate and wants to destroy
Dunn. He wants to be free. But not all of Crumb's personalities believe in The
Beast, and some are questioning whether Dr. Staples' hypothesis - that The
Beast's super powers are merely a psychological delusion - may have some truth.
"Playing Kevin is overwhelming because he finds the whole world
overwhelming," McAvoy says. "He doesn't want to be alive, so it's exceptionally
sad playing Kevin." His other personalities present their own challenges. "It's
really about time management, because doing prep for that many characters is a
lot," he says. "But the work is the same work I do when I'm playing any
character: What does this character want? How do they go about getting it? What
are the things stopping them from getting it? You do all your background work
just like you always do. It's just about trying to do tons of it."
In one scene in Glass, McAvoy has to transition through multiple characters
in a very short period of time. "That becomes tricky, when you have to
transition from one to the other to the other on-camera," he says. "You have to
be able to commit fully to the next person whether that person in the same
emotional space as the last one. So you can get yourself in a place of hysteria
or deep sadness or panic, and then the next personality has to be super calm and
in a good mood and jovial. That's quite hard because your heart rate is
physically different to what it should be when you go into the next character.
It's like sudden gear changes."
But the most physically demanding part of the role, by far, is playing The
Beast. "He's so physically tense and on the edge of pouncing because he's so
animalistic that I find it hurts me, physically, to play him," McAvoy says.
"After I play him for a few days, my collar bone and neck are killing me for
days afterward. On Split it didn't matter as much because I only did it for a
couple of days for that shoot, but this time I'm playing The Beast a lot more
One of the biggest changes from Split to Glass was the age of the cast. In
Split, McAvoy was one of the oldest members of the principal cast. This time
he's younger than his two main co-stars. "On Split I sort of felt like a
granddad," he says. "This time, I feel younger because more senior people are
around me. And working with Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willisâ€¦ that's just
proper nuts. Having watched and admired their movies when I was younger, getting
to work with them is strange, brilliant and fun."
For his Split and Glass co-star Anya Taylor-Joy, watching McAvoy play this
role has a different emotional impact. "Kevin breaks my heart," Taylor-Joy says.
"I walked into my house the other day and my parents were watching Split on TV.
I walked in just at the moment in the movie where we meet Kevin and I burst into
tears. He's the person that Casey really connects with. He's a mirror to her,
and I think the relationship that the two of them have is so pure and so tender.
Kevin's a really wounded soul and somebody that needs protecting. That's why the
alter personalities came; they came to protect him."
David Dunn/The Overseer
In the 16 years since the events of Unbreakable, David Dunn has lost his wife
to cancer, has created his own security business with his son, and has devoted
himself to fighting crime as a vigilante called The Overseer. But the cost of
all that has been high, and the price of all that history is reflected in Bruce
Willis's performance. "Bruce is the most chilled dude," McAvoy says. "He is so
relaxed, but he's bringing such a heaviness to the part. That's beautiful, and
something I haven't seen a lot in a superhero movies: the weight, the toll that
the work takes on them. And it's expressed so brilliantly by Bruce. His natural
laidback-ness translates into something really sad in the character. David Dunn
is this lonely man. All he really has in his life is his vigilante purpose and
his son, and that's kind of it. There's such a purity and sadness in what Bruce
is doing with that."
Willis welcomed the opportunity to revisit the character, and to reunite with
Shyamalan. "It was fun to come back and tell the continuation of this
character's story so many years later," Willis says. "Rarely, if ever, does an
actor have an opportunity like this. Night creates characters that are unique
and memorable and feel personal. I was just as thrilled to play David Dunn as I
was the first time I played him."
When Dunn decides to pursue The Beast, it is with the sense that only he can
stop him, and the burden continues to weigh on him after the two men are
hospitalized together at Raven Hill. Dunn's weakness, his kryptonite, is water,
and so Dr. Staple has rigged Dunn's isolation room with a massive water rig that
will instantly flood the room if Dunn tries to escape. As Dr. Staple attempts to
treat Dunn for his alleged delusion, Dunn's only concern is protecting everyone
in the hospital, and the public in general, from The Beast. He's a man worn down
by the burden of his superpowers, but he also can't find a path away from it. If
Dr. Staple is right, it could be, in a way, a relief, even if he can't quite
bring himself to believe her.
For his fellow cast members, working with Willis was a singular experience.
Jackson has worked with Willis on multiple films, including Pulp Fiction, and
the two veteran actors have developed a natural ease to their working
relationship. "I always enjoy working with Bruce," Jackson says. "He's a very
familiar and easy character for me to fall into, and to fall into patterns
That sense of familiarity was also felt between Willis and his director, who
were making their third film together. "Working with Night on The Sixth Sense,
we had a really good time shooting that movie and developed a friendship and a
high level of trust," Willis says. "When he told me that he had an idea for a
script for me, which was Unbreakable, I immediately said, 'OK, I'm in.' I didn't
even know what the subject matter was going to be. Similarly, when he approached
me about Glass, I agreed immediately, I didn't have to read the script. To be
able to work again with Night as a friend and collaborator was a dream come
For Spencer Treat Clark, the opportunity to revisit the father-son roles that
he and Willis portrayed in Unbreakable, now from an adult perspective, made a
deep impact on him. "Night and Bruce have so many great stories about each other
and about Unbreakable that I really didn't know about before; it is so weird
having the adult prospective now about that experience," Clark says. "They have
a really cool relationship; it's like a big brother, little brother
relationship. We had a dinner at Night's right before we started shooting, and
Night has a room in his house with memorabilia from all his previous films. It
was wild walking through that, with Bruce reflecting on his experiences and
Night on his. We were all starting to get pretty excited for the weeks and
"Unbreakable was a pretty pivotal experience for me growing up, and it was
fun going back and looking at Joseph, and my experience playing him, and how
he's evolved. I got two really cool set gifts at the end of Unbreakable. One was
from Bruce. He gave me the complete CD box sets of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles,
which is super cool. Those CDs got so much use. I wore through them through my
Discman all through my early teens. I started playing music because of those,
started playing the guitar and I became a musician."
When we first re-encounter Casey Cooke in Glass, it has been three weeks
since she escaped from Kevin Crumb's most lethal alter, The Beast. "Casey is a
girl who went through something that no one should ever have to go through,"
Taylor-Joy says. "But she's resilient; she bounces back. In this movie we find
her and she's quite different than she was in Split. Her experience was
terrifying, but it gave her the permission to be herself and to stop blaming
herself for a lot of things."
She's back in high-school where (coincidentally?) David Dunn's son, Joseph,
went to school. She is no longer the victim of her abusive uncle, and her status
as the sole survivor of The Beast has made her a subject of fascination to her
peers. She is finding her own voice, strength and power. For Taylor-Joy, that
was a significant change from Casey in Split, where she was in fear for her
life, and trapped in a warren of small rooms the whole time. At first,
Taylor-Joy wasn't quite at ease with the new Casey. She had to almost
re-discover her, in a way.
"What I found semi-uncomfortable was being Casey without the confines of the
room," she says. "In a high-pressure situation you act differently. I had to
understand who Casey was now. I had a bit of growing pain within myself, but now
I feel very comfortable with her, and it actually gives me a lot of peace to
understand her in a new way."
"I have such an intense connection with my character that there was an
element of being a bit scared," Taylor-Joy says. "The first day on Glass, it
felt so strange to make that jump because it's only three weeks after the events
of Split and Casey is different. It was a little surreal. But I came to feel
grateful for it because the character and I got to have a more decent parting.
Without that, I would never have known where she went. I also had no idea if
Casey and Kevin would see each other again, so my first scene with James [McAvoy]
was really emotional, actually."
In the film, Casey becomes an advocate for the hospitalized Kevin Crumb.
Despite his disorder, he was the first person who saw Casey clearly and
recognized her pain. She, in turn, has recognized his. "Both of these characters
are so broken and have been so hurt that they together have this bond,"
Taylor-Joy says. "They're kindred souls."
Dr. Ellie Staple
The most prominent new character of the trilogy is Dr. Ellie Staple, a
renowned psychiatrist who specializes in patients suffering from the delusion
that they are comic-book characters. She has developed an experimental medical
procedure to rid the patients of their delusions, but it does not leave them
That complexity in Dr. Staple required an actor who could not only hold her
own against three strong characters (and actors) in Price, Crumb and Dunn, but
also an actor of great emotional depth. Shyamalan found that ideal actor in
Paulson. "I wanted someone who could match those three men in craft, and also in
buoyancy and entertainment," Shyamalan says. "I also needed someone who could
match them in intelligence, and really own the screen against these three
Sarah was chosen to fight that fight and boy, did she deliver."
Paulson was eager to dive into the character. "Ellie is a doctor of
incredible compassion who has a deep-seated belief that her way of thinking is
an answer to some of the world's problems," Paulson says. "Not everybody is on
board with that, but I can get behind her reasoning for the things that she
This involves elaborate systems to keep Crumb, Dunn and Price contained and
controlled. As empathetic as Dr. Staple seems, she is also driven by her own
ambitions and desires to establish a psychiatric breakthrough that will set a
new benchmark for her profession. The question is, is she fixing these men, or
"The overarching questions of this movie are, what do we all have inside of
ourselves? Is it good to believe we're capable of anything and everything?
Should we doubt? How much gravity do you want to give to your own belief?"
Paulson says. "That internal thought process is interesting to ponder. This
movie is not set in a fantasy world. It's reality. So what happens when you
really have a belief that you have super powers, and that you might be
What makes Dr. Staple so compelling as a character is that she's not just
clinical, but has a strong emotional intelligence and compassion. "It's a very
fine line between her clinical manner and her need for order and her ability to
become incredibly connected to the person she's talking to," Paulson says.
"She's incredibly empathic, and that is the thing Night wanted her to lead with,
so that she doesn't become sort of a typical, clinical doctor. She's a human
being who is deeply affected by the people she's sitting across from."
In one of the film's most fascinating scenes, Dr. Staple is questioning Kevin
Crumb as he cycles through personality after personality in a matter of minutes.
"It was impossible for me not to sort of shudder in awe every time James moved
in and out of a different character," Paulson says. "From an acting standpoint,
it was incredibly inspiring, and I was able to use some of that emotional
response for Dr. Staple, to have her be moved by what she is witnessing."
Elijah Price/Mr. Glass
Samuel L. Jackson
Since we last saw Elijah Price proudly confess to his crimes at the end of
Unbreakable, and declare himself the supervillain Mr. Glass, he has been housed
at Raven Hill hospital in the psychiatric ward. Now in a wheelchair permanently,
he has been heavily sedated for much of his incarceration there in an attempt to
keep his mesmeric intellect contained. Early in his stay there, he had managed
to shut down the hospital's entire electrical grid.
When we first see him in Glass, he's a shard of his former self, a dead-eyed
blank who doesn't even acknowledge that his mother is in the room, much less
answer her questions. But it soon becomes clear that there is more going on
behind those eyes. "He's pretty much the same guy," Samuel L. Jackson says.
"Elijah is still very calculating, he's still very watchful, he's still strong.
He has just been isolated, which has given him a lot more time to formulate
opinions, formulate plans, and to dig in to what he believes even further."
The arrival of Dunn and Crumb presents Price with a prime opportunity to not
only liberate himself, but to liberate the culture by exposing the truth that
superpeople walk among us. This puts him in direct opposition to Dr. Staple's
belief that the men are deluded. What makes Price so dangerous, of course, is
that no one knows what he's up to. Until, that is, it's too late.
"Elijah has been living with pain - relentless, chronic pain - since his
birth," says Charlayne Woodard, who plays Price's mother. "This has affected him
in extraordinary ways. I won't say he's evil. I won't say he's good - because
aren't we all both, really?"
Indeed, one of the film's most clever narrative devices is gradually shifting
our perceptions of Price. The character doesn't change, but we begin to see him
in a new light. "The idea of having a marginalized character that is your hero,
who is the title character, is very satisfying for the audience," Shyamalan
says. "You really want him to succeed, even if some of the things he's doing are
When we first meet Mrs. Price in Unbreakable, she is the tough-love mother of
a pre-teen Elijah Price. His genetic illness, osteogenesis imperfecta, has
caused his bones to break so easily that young Elijah has become housebound.
He's afraid of the world. But he loves comic books, and his mother forces him to
leave the house by routinely placing a new comic book on the bench in the
playground across the street from their home. She coaxes him back into the
Now, in Glass, her son is so heavily sedated he seems to almost not exist,
but she is determined not to give up on him and believes that he is still inside
there, somewhere. He just needs to right motivation to come out again.
"Elijah Price is my baby, and we've had a tough time of it, but we're
survivors," says Charlayne Woodard, who reprises her role as Mrs. Price in
Glass. Returning to the role has been a joy, she says. "It's wonderful for me,
because 17 years ago I was playing an older woman, and now I am legitimately an
older woman. Experience has 'growed me up.' I come to Mrs. Price with a little
more knowledge, and a little more courage."
For Woodard, filming Glass was also an opportunity to catch up with people
she hadn't seen in almost two decades. Because Shyamalan's crews are so loyal,
and because he's so loyal to them, the set of Glass sometimes felt like a family
reunion. "Night creates such a lovely work environment," she says. "You can tell
that he really cares for actors and his crew. The set is a family, period, the
The son of David Dunn, Joseph is now 25 years old and runs Dunn Security with
his father. In Unbreakable, Joseph, then 9, was the first true believer that his
father had superpowers. He still believes in his father, and has become David's
partner in vigilante crime fighting, helping him locate criminals, monitoring
his father's activities remotely via camera, and communicating with his father
through an earpiece during his missions. In many ways, Joseph has become his
father's protector, assessing the risk of various situations and also staying
wary of the police, who are on the hunt for David. His father's incarceration at
Raven Hill will test Joseph's ability to do that, and he will be forced to
question his belief in his father's powers.
For Spencer Treat Clark, the opportunity to resurrect a role he played as a
child was a gift, and one that stunned him. "It was pretty unbelievable, the
whole thing," Clark says. "When Split came out I was on a camping trip with my
friends and had my phone on airplane mode. When I got back I had, like, 15 texts
from people asking me if I'd seen it. So I went, and at the end, when I heard
the Unbreakable score and then saw Bruce, and I was like, 'Huh?'" I really had
no expectations, and when I had a call with Night, I was pretty sure it was
going to be a courtesy call to tell me they had hired Chris Hemsworth to play
Joseph. But he said he had a role for me, and two months later I got the script.
It was crazy."
It also surprised him how substantial and pivotal the role of Joseph is in
Glass. It was a much larger part than Clark had anticipated. "I more or less
said yes before I read the script, which gave my agents zero latitude to
negotiate," he says, laughing. "Night probably could have dressed me up in a
clown costume and stuck me in a corner for the whole movie and I still would
have been down."
One crucial side benefit of the role for Clark was the opportunity to
reconnect with Shyamalan, who had been a mentor to him on Unbreakable. "Night
was a big influence on me," he says. "He was somebody who was successfully
pursuing the arts and he was young, too. At the time, he was a couple of months
younger than I am now, which is crazy to think about. I have incredible pictures
of us both from that time, both looking like babies."
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