‘Ghostlight’ Interview: Directors Alex Thompson And Kelly O’Sullivan

Kelly O’Sullivan and Alex Thompson weren’t supposed to make Ghostlight (review here) when they did. The two, known for their first film together, the brilliant Saint Frances, were about to start shooting, Mouse, a higher-budget film than they were used to making. With the cast set and cameras about to roll, their plans came to a halt when the WGA writer’s strike and SAG-Aftra strikes started. Realizing she had a script ready to go, O’Sullivan and Thompson then switched gears into making Ghostlight, filmed with SAG’s permission with actors they knew and trusted in the Chicago area.

Less than five months later, the directing duo had a baby and their film premiered at Sundance.

It’s apropos that resilience seems to be the theme of Ghostlight’s shoot as it is a prominent theme of the film. The film centers on Dan (Keith Kupferer), a repressed construction worker trying to hold his family together as they deal with a lawsuit. One day when he loses his temper on the job, he meets Rita, a brilliant unemployed actress who introduces him to the theater world. Through theater games and Romeo and Juliet, he soon discovers the healing power of community.

I spoke with Thompson and O’Sullivan about the frantic making of this movie, how they managed to fly actress Dolly De Leon to Chicago, and why stories of childhood vs. adulthood are so fascinating to them.

Ghostlight is open in theaters now.

Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.