It’s parents’ worst nightmare; their child becoming the victim of a despicable crime. In this haunting drama directed by Peter Jackson and based on the novel of the same name, the horrific scenario happens to Jack and Abigail Salmon when their 14-year-old daughter, Susie, is murdered by their neighbor. The story is told through Susie’s eyes, following her death, as she continues to watch over her earthbound family.

Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz, who portray Jack and Abigail Salmon, both have children. They talked to us about the movie and the difficult subject matter.

Rachel, there’s quite a lot from the book that wasn’t in the movie for you. Were you able to get everything you needed from the script or are there things from the book that you could draw on even though they’re not in the script?

Abigail Salmon (Rachel Weisz) © DreamWorks Studios

Rachel Weisz The script was very beautiful, but it’s a huge bonus to have a novel as well which will give you the interior life of your character, give you their back story, their biography. So for me, it was only a huge extra help, great fuel for your imagination, so I went back to the book many, many times to get a feeling of Abigail.

Were there subplots that were shot from the book that didn’t make it into the movie?

Rachel Weisz There were a lot of things that we shot that couldn’t make it into the final movie because it would have to be a mini-series basically in order to get all of the characters’ story’s in. So, yeah, there were things for everybody’s character that didn’t make it.

Mark, why did you want to do this and where do you go to play every parent’s worst nightmare?

Jack Salmon (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Abigail Salmon (Rachel Weisz) © DreamWorks Studios

Mark Wahlberg Well, my biggest reason for wanting to be a part of this was Peter Jackson. I’m a huge fan of Peter’s. Because of the way I approach work, I wasn’t all that thrilled about the subject matter because I have a beautiful little girl and two beautiful boys. I basically had to live in that headspace for the entire time. I just thought it would be a beautiful movie and it was too good to pass up the opportunity to be a part of it.

Rachel, you’re a mother, what was it like for you to do this movie?

Abigail Salmon (Rachel Weisz) and Buckley Salmon (Christian Ashdale) © DreamWorks Studios

Rachel Weisz Well, as an actor you have to imagine all sorts of things. I imagined that I was a young woman in the 1970s. I imagined that I was American. Neither of those are bad things. You imagine beautiful things. You imagine ugly things. That’s my job. I just don’t think in that way, that something is too dark or problematic to go to. I immerse myself in something but I’ve learned to come out of it.

I’m a mother in real life and so I can’t go home to my kids in a state of despair and tears. It’s a skill that you learn like one might learn to juggle. You learn to turn things on and off. I have to do that.

There are also very beautiful, uplifting things about this film and I knew that going into this film. I guess the uplifting theme of the film and the book, which to me is that life is a treasure and precious and a miracle, and I guess the thing that it made me feel was that I want to go hug my son tighter when I get home. It’s hard to remember that life is a miracle often when you’re living it. We forget that. So it gave me a kind of positive feeling rather than a depressed one.

Mark, you said you were emotional when you started this film so were there any emotional ramifications for you once the movie was done, things you had to deal with?

Jack Salmon (Mark Wahlberg) © DreamWorks Studios

Mark Wahlberg I’m still learning to juggle. I would just go home and grab my daughter and hold her. I would start crying. She was like, ‘Daddy. What’s wrong with you,’ because she just wanted to play. I would talk to her about taking care of herself and not talking to strangers. She was three at the time. But thankfully I had another movie to go into that was completely different.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.