Edward Norton Interview For Wes Anderson’s ‘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. In cinemas now, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ marks Wes Anderson’s first live-action film since 2007′s ‘The Darjeeling Limited.’
I know you’ve wanted to work with Wes Anderson for a while now. How did you first correspond with each other?
Edward Norton: I’ll take credit for initiating our friendship (laughs), because I wrote him a letter after I saw ‘Rushmore.’ It was full of appreciation for that film. Then, not long after that he saw me in a play in New York, and he wrote me a very beautiful letter about it. That sort of initiated a correspondence that we’ve kept up over the years – without actually seeing each other that much. It was one of those things, you hope and you wait and then something comes together. When he did give me a ring and say, “I’ve written something that I’d love you to look at a role in.” I just said, “I’m in!” He said, “Well, read it, it’s odd,” I said, “I don’t care, lets do it.” (Laughs).
Your character, Scout Master Ward, like much of the adult characters, there’s a richer heart to him as the film goes on?
Edward Norton: I agree. He’s a Boy Scout Troop leader, a Khaki Scout Troop leader. For me he’s sort of so serious he’s funny, that’s sort of the best way I can encapsulate him. I think there’s a funny dynamic in ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ where the children in the film are much more in touch with their emotions than the adults are. And the actions of the kids sort of force the grownups into a confrontation with what they’re in denial about. And I think the healing in the film is instigated by these kid to some degree, which is kind of lovely actually.
Over the years, Wes Anderson has established a great stable of acting talent that join him in many of his film. How was it for you joining that in ‘Moonrise Kingdom’?
Edward Norton: It’s a dream to be in a company of actors. I think all us started out reading about Orson Wells and his Mercury Theatre, the group theatre. Any of those great ensembles that worked together, there’s a romance to that when you’re an actor, I used to dream a lot about how fun it would be to be in a troop like that. I think Wes has obviously over the years put together one of the great troops in modern cinema. And all actors want to be in it (laughs), I think every actor sees Wes Anderson’s new film come out and goes, “Oh God, that would have been so fun!” Then it turns out it is, which is surprising because you never know how making a movie is ever going to be. It turns out working with Wes is kind of like summer camp, and I think Wes plays the role that my character plays in ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ – the scout troop leader, marching us through our skills, heading off on an adventure. It was completely delightful, just a completely delightful experience.
I can imagine it being pretty unique as well?
Edward Norton: It’s fun to have a lot of the trappings that start to surround movies taken away. Wes had us all doing our own hair and makeup, costumes, coming to set in vans together. There was no trailers. It was kind of everything you love about it when you’re a kid and you have your own video camera in your backyard. Just a great spirit and great fun to be included in Wes’ still growing company.
‘Moonrise Kingdom’ has a tonne of young actors mixed in with the more senior actors, how was that dynamic?
Edward Norton: It was nice. The kids were very “unprofessional“, which is what you want kids to be. They were incredibly sincere and authentic. Which was great. Everybody else, a lot of us had worked together or knew each other so it was great fun. Then people like Bruce Willis….one of the things I loved about Bruce was that he’s a real old theatre actor at heart, even for all of his fame as an action star (laughs). It was great seeing him play this very defeated, somewhat sad…..he gets described as dumb and sad in the film, and it’s such a great, low-key, persuasive performance . It was great fun working them, an incredible experience. Even better than I could have ever imagined.
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