Wes Anderson Interview For ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is the new movie directed by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore). Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ tells the story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore – and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in every which way. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff, Captain Sharp. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader, Scout Master Ward. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban; and introduces Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as Sam and Suzy, the boy and girl. Released on May 25th, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ marks Wes Anderson’s first live-action film since 2007′s ‘The Darjeeling Limited.’
I really enjoyed the performances of Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as these two 12-year-olds. How did you cast them?
Wes Anderson: I’ve done a number of movies that feature children, or young people, in pretty large roles. I always try to start that process of searching very early, and I think we had maybe eight months or ten months of time to search. The thing that you always hope and trust that is going to happen when you’re casting, you’re waiting for the moment of, “There it is!” So that you can shut down the search for the characters, and that happened both with Jared and Kara. Jared, it was really his personality. His interview after the audition, more than even his read. He was very good in his audition, but he made me laugh and I was very charmed by him immediately. And then Kara, on the other hand, it was a scene I had seen played over and over and over in auditions, but the way she played it, it was as if she was making up the dialogue herself. With both of them it was really instantaneous.
Can you talk about the process of creating the visuals of the film? For me, they were very vibrant, crisp and stunning.
Wes Anderson: I’ve done a few little shorts with other people, but Bob Yeoman, he’s really the only director of photography that I’ve ever worked with. He taught me how to work with a cameraman in the first place. We’ve worked so closely together that it is hard for me to picture what it would be like not to have him. With this movie, we worked in a different format and we had some very tiny, French cameras that you can hold in one hand and you can’t put them on your shoulder, you have to hold them down like a video camera. We had five of those and a lot of the scenes with Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, especially in the wilderness, we used those cameras and it gave us a sort of freedom that was something new.
‘Moonrise Kingdom’ takes place in the mid-1960s, and there’s an underlying feeling in the movie that something is changing….
Wes Anderson: Kara and Jared’s characters are 12 in 1965, so when they’re 18 years old, they’re going to be in a very different kind of America. That’s kind of the reason to set it then. One little thing that I think illustrates it a bit is the island where we shot much of the movie was only accessible by ferry until 1962, when they built a bridge to Newport, Rhode Island, which was finished in 1965. It then became a suburb of Newport and filled with houses and shops and changed completely, in a way that much of America did. It is a period that, after so much stasis, there was radical change very quickly and it is reflected in the culture. I have to say, that is something I thought about after finishing the script. The truth is, when I was writing the role that Bob Balaban played, the narrator, I just wrote the sentence “The year in 1965.…” and that was the first I had thought of it, so it was really instinctive. I give more of an excuse than a real reason.
Children’s fiction seems very bound up in the film, could you talk about that?
Wes Anderson: Yeah. At a certain point when writing the script, I had Kara’s character carrying a suitcase and I was asking myself what was in it, and we filled it with all these books. Somewhere along the way I started thinking maybe the movie is one of her books and the movie could be in her suitcase too. It kind of took on a fantasy atmosphere, even if the events are not magical in that way. There is one particular set of books by Susan Cooper, the ‘Dark is Rising’ series. My reaction to those books was that I desperately wanted to believe these powers existed, and I kind of feel like the atmosphere of somebody who is caught up in a story like that is like when you fall in love for the first time and you feel like you are underwater or something. It’s like you’re in a dream. That’s all part of the story a bit.
Which of the characters can you relate to the most?
Wes Anderson: I have some connection to all the characters, but the character that I identify with mostly is the character Kara plays…..I will say this; there’s a moment in the movie where, in answer to a question that he has asked her she shows the pamphlet ‘Coping With the Very Troubled Child.’ That is one of the very few things in the movie that is an autobiographical element. I did find the pamphlet on the refrigerator; I wasn’t the only child in the house, but I knew which one was the very troubled child (laughs). I think if my brothers had found it they would not have looked to themselves. It‘s not a great feeling, but it became a funny bit (laughs).
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