Academy Awards Interview With Quvenzhané Wallis For ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is nominated for four Oscars at the 85th Academy Awards, in the categories Best Picture, Best Director (Benh Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay (Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin) and Best Actress (Quvenzhané Wallis). At the age of 9, Wallis is the youngest ever nominee of the Academy Award for Best Actress.
In ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ Hushpuppy (Wallis), an intrepid six-year-old girl, lives with her father, Wink (Dwight Henry), in The Bathtub, a southern Delta community at the edge of the world. Wink’s tough love prepares her for the unraveling of the universe; for a time when he’s no longer there to protect her. When Wink contracts a mysterious illness, nature flies out of whack – temperatures rise, and the ice caps melt, unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. With the waters rising, the aurochs coming, and Wink’s health fading, Hushpuppy goes in search of her lost mother.
How much does Hushpuppy differ from you? And do you think you two could be friends?
Quvenzhané Wallis: Definitely. But Hushpuppy doesn’t wear pants pretty much, and I love to wear pants in public (laughs). Also, I have a great father, but her father in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is dying. Hushpuppy has more pets than me, I only have one. She has a lot more outside things that she can go to do, I have less things that I can go to do. She can complete whatever she wants to complete, I have to have permission to complete something, or to have adventures. I think we could be friends, she would have to wear pants though (laughs). And we both love seafood!
What kind of a girl is Hushpuppy?
Quvenzhané Wallis: She’s a little girl who’s trying to take care of her father. She’s doing anything she can to see if he’s telling the truth or not about how he’s sick and about how he’s dying. Her dad is wild sometimes. I think Hushpuppy is strong. She’s a girl who follows everything from her father, and he wants her to be strong. She’s very connected to The Bathtub. I would think of the expression “it feels good to be at home” with that, because she is very connected to the people and the animals and the woods.
How was it working with Mr. Henry as your father in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild,’ I heard that when you first met he brought you lots of cookies? And then also working with director Benh Zeitlin, how was he?
Quvenzhané Wallis: Working with Mr. Henry was fun (laughs)! The first day I saw him he brought me some sweets, he brought me cookies, buttermilk drops, brownies. So I ran to Benh and was like “he’s the one.” Working with Mr. Henry was fun because he not only knows how to bake, but he also knows how to make me happy. He does things that he does with his real daughter with me. It was a lot of fun working with Mr. Henry. Behn was fun, he made me laugh. He would aggravate me with “one more time.” When he said “one more time” he actually meant five more times (laughs)!
Do you have a favourite scene in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’?
Quvenzhané Wallis: The most memorable scene that I love, and it’s a different scene that I normally don’t see, but it was when the crayfish and the crab was on the table. That was my favourite scene because everybody who was at that table and underneath that table… the people that were underneath the table came out from underneath the table and started eating on top of the table as well. Nobody stopped eating until Benh said stop eating. That was fun! My favourite part is every part with sea food in it (laughs). Whenever there was seafood I was like “bring it to me” (laughs)!
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