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Letitia Wright Wants to Give The Silent Twins a ‘New Birth’

Letitia Wright and Tamara Lawrance in The Silent Twins. Photo: Lukasz Bak/Focus Features

The story of Jennifer and June Gibbons is in a constant state of revision. The inseparable British twins — whose tale first came to light through the writings of journalist Marjorie Wallace in the 1980s — largely rejected society through their refusal to speak to or interact with anyone but each other. The Lure director Agnieszka Smoczyńska is the latest person to attempt to parse the events leading up to the girls’ time at a high-security psychiatric facility in her upcoming film The Silent Twins, adapted from Wallace’s book of the same name. Death on the Nile’s Letitia Wright and Kindred’s Tamara Lawrance play June and Jennifer, respectively, and executive-produced the film, out September 16. The Gibbons girls seized on the freedom of their self-imposed isolation from their white, Welsh community with a string of creative endeavors: Their shared bedroom was a limitless interior world stuffed with the possibility of storytelling and crafts and poetry. Wallace wrote The Silent Twins after years of observing the Gibbons during their internment at a high-security psychiatric hospital, inspiring a trove of media. “They were so misrepresented back in the ’80s and the ’90s,” Wright said at the film’s New York red-carpet premiere. “The simplicity of their creativity, the simplicity of them wanting to hide away from society when they felt marginalized, when they felt ostracized, became a circus show for the media.”

“If we just strip it all back, it’s an opportunity to give their story to the media and to the public in a fresh light and in a way that it was meant to be in the first place: These are two beautiful young women who are creative, freaking dope, and smart,” she said. Wright saw it as her duty “to give their story a new birth.” Another story getting a rebirth is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which sees Wright’s Shuri taking more of a center-stage role. While Wright stayed silent about the long-delayed film on the red carpet, she did tell Today it will be a “love letter to Chadwick Boseman.”

Like the Gibbons twins (and anyone doing press for a Marvel movie), Smoczyńska denies the audience any simple answers to such a complicated and mysterious story that takes place in the bowels of two twins’ minds, illustrated by imaginative stop-motion sequences. As for a Polish director adapting a story about two real-life Black women? Wright said her and Lawrance’s roles as producers helped get their voices in the room. “She understood that she didn’t know what it meant to be a Black woman and she was willing to learn,” Wright said of her director, who she said prioritized June and Jennifer as sisters, artists, and outsiders. “I wanted to put a lot of empathy and respect in it,” Smoczyńska said, even without the participation of the real-life June Gibbons. (Jennifer passed away in 1993.) Smoczyńska said June simply wants to “live her private life,” though she gave the project her blessing. “They were misrepresented and misdiagnosed,” Wright told Vulture. “It stole their years.”

Letitia Wright Wants to Give The Silent Twins a ‘New Birth’