VanityFair recently sat down with Wes to discuss working on Mr. Fox. Pretty standard stuff, but interesting nonetheless.
Wes Anderson came to Hollywood from Texas armed with a short film and a best friend with a funny nose. The year was 1993, the film was Bottle Rocket, and the best friend was—and still is—Owen Wilson. By chance, James Brooks saw and loved Bottle Rocket, and gave Anderson the boost he needed, helping him shore up financing to expand the short into a full-length feature. Since then, Anderson has written and directed four films: Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums—for which he was nominated for best original screenplay—The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and The Darjeeling Limited and its accompanying short, Hotel Chevalier. On Friday, he will be releasing his sixth film, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, a sumptuous, stop-motion version of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story, which Anderson co-wrote with Noah Baumbach. The film features the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep, who once said she signed on because, in her words, “When else am I going to be Mrs. George Clooney?” Also lending their voices are Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman, another fixture of Anderson’s troupe. I spoke with Anderson a few days ago, and I can tell you the only thing cooler than his corduroy suits and gaggle of talented friends is the fact that he is one of the few people in Hollywood who can get Bill Murray on the phone. Read our whole conversation below.
So my first question is, ‘Why this book?’
The actual true answer is I don’t really remember. I don’t remember making the decision to adapt this book—it was 10 years ago that I first approached the Dahl estate about doing it. I wanted to do a stop-motion movie and the idea to adapt Fantastic Mr. Fox was simultaneous with that. It’s the first book I ever owned that was officially considered to be my property in our household, and the book made a huge impression on me as a child.
Jason appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this past Wednesday to promote Mr. Fox and talk about stealing Jimmy’s moves. We’ve embedded the interview below, and you can watch the full episode at Hulu.
Schwartzman elaborates on his use of music in preparing for his roles, his appreciation for great writing, and working with Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson. He also discusses his character in Bored to Death, a Brooklyn-based lovelorn writer-turned-private detective.
You can stream the show and download a podcast of it at KCRW’s website, where you can also listen to past shows with Wes Anderson (1999, 2002, 2004) and Noah Baumbach among many other great filmmakers. (KCRW also talked to Jason about some of his favorite songs last year, you can listen to that here.)
As we mentioned yesterday on Twitter, there’s a great new profile on Wes in this week’s New Yorker by Richard Brody. Click on the thumbnails below to read the article and let us know what you think in the comments.
The UK version of the review aggregating site Rotten Tomatoes had a chance to talk with Wes. Below is an excerpt, read the full interview at their site.
You spent some time while you were writing in Roald Dahl’s hometown, what was that like? WA: The place where we went is called Gypsy House, which he bought later in his life, but it’s where he wrote many of his best-known books. Mr. Fox was written there, certainly. We were interested in the idea that we wouldn’t just base it on the book; we’d base it on him. He’d written memoirs for children — which is an odd thing, not many people have written autobiographies meant for children — so from that point of view we were always very aware of him and aware that kids reading his books didn’t just know the books, they knew him. We tried to get as much of his personality into the character, and we also had his manuscripts. In fact, we had the manuscript for Fantastic Mr. Fox, which had a different ending which we used in the movie. That’s a great luxury — to be able to say, “Here’s an idea we can use — it’s not in the book, but it’s from him.”
Movieline sat down with Wes and asked him about his favorite movie scene. His pick might rile up some more unpleasant comments, but please let’s focus on the movies people, always the movies.
The Scene: Great Missenden, about an hour outside of London — the Platonic ideal of the English countryside village, lined with perfectly tended row houses and gardens. It’s home to Roald Dahl’s estate and the Roald Dahl Museum, which today is overrun by international press who’ve gathered to interview the cast and crew of Fantastic Mr. Fox— Wes Anderson’s stop-motion adaptation of the Dahl classic. At The Nags Head Pub, Bill Murray pours pints for starstruck onlookers from behind the bar, as a small group of journalists sit around a table grilling Anderson on his animated opus. It seemed as good a moment as any to play My Favorite Scene with the director — though I must admit we never saw his answer coming.
Read the full story and watch the scene at Movieline.
Channel 4 sat down with Wes and Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy Dahl to talk about Fantastic Mr. Fox.
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