Wes Anderson on 'Moonrise Kingdom' casting and Johnny Depp
Anderson spoke to Zap2it ahead of the DVD release about finding his phenomenal child actors, recruiting new members for his gang of performers (including Frances McDormand and Edward Norton) and dispelling the rumors that Johnny Depp is in his new movie.
How did you end up finding the kids in "Moonrise Kingdom"?
We started casting very early because I knew it was likely to take a long time to find them. Usually the first days that you're casting you see a bunch of great ones because they're the ones who've all been in something already and they have agents and that sort of thing. I saw lots of great kids who have experience acting just right off the top, and most of the rest of the scouts in the movie are among those kids.
But Jared Gilman did not appear for many months. Instantly he made me laugh. ... What particularly struck me was the conversation between him and our casting director at the end of his audition, and it was him talking about being in a new school and how he had this new freedom. He was funny and he was very lively and just had a great energy about him.
With Kara Hayworth, whom I found even closer to when we started shooting the movie, it was as simple as I had seen the same scene done probably 600 times by different girls, and suddenly I saw this one where this person seemed to be making up the dialogue completely spontaneously right in that moment. It wasn't even showy. I just suddenly realized, "Here's one that seems completely authentic."
What was it like working with these first-timers?
Working with kids, even though the thing you really want is what they are naturally, I still find the critical thing with them is to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse. They're not just learning to play their characters and to be actors -- they're also learning to be workers, you know? They're used to just going to school every day and suddenly they have a job and they have to show up for work and they have to be prepared and they have to keep their energy level up and they have to keep focus.
You've had kids in your movies before, but this is the first time the movie really depends on the child actors. Does that change how you approach the movie at all?
I think it's mainly just finding them. [Also, there's] a very simple physical thing -- they're trekking through nature and there were things we wanted to do with handheld cameras. It's a bit different when the people are littler, because an adult with a camera on their shoulder is going to be looking down. It needs to be on their level. But we found some very interesting French cameras that you hold differently; you don't put them on your shoulder, you cradle them like a video camera.
It's interesting you mention that, because something that's nice about "Moonrise Kingdom" is that it doesn't look down on the kids.
Our movie does the thing that other movies do, which is you spend some time with the adults and you spend some time with the children. I did like the idea that maybe, when you were with the children, it would be a part of their lives that you're not normally allowed to see or something. I mean, I guess that that's been done lots of times but my inspiration for it was particularly this François Truffaut movie, "Small Change." Do you know that one?
It's a great movie made in the '70s. "Small Change" is a wonderful Truffaut movie and there are virtually no adult characters. I mean, they have a few little snippets. But it is really from the point of view of these children. They're the ones you spend time with and get to know. And just seeing it reminds you how unusual it is for a movie that's not just a kid's movie. It's not a genre kid's movie. Usually genre kid's movies don't really feel like they're kid's point of view anyway; they don't feel that real. But there are some. "Bad News Bears," there must be twenty movies that are inspired by that, but that's one of the funniest and has such great characters and it does feel very real.
You have an established troupe of actors that you consistently work with, how do you keep adding to that group? Because Ed Norton and Frances McDonald seem to fit in perfectly in "Moonrise."
Well Fran is somebody I've known for many years and who I've been hoping to work with for a long time. But she's also somebody who I would be very eager to work with again, [same with] Bill Murray or Angelica Houston. People like Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson, these are guys who we started together. ... I have a number of people who I'm planning to work with on my next film who I've worked with before. And in the case of those, it's people who I got to work with because I was a fan and I admire them. I am lucky to get to work with them again.
What can you say about your next film?
I'm not really particularly talking about it but it's in Europe and that's about all I really have been going into about it. Not that it's any real huge secret but I just sort of feel like, "Ehhh...I might as well [not say anything]." Johnny Depp is not in it. That has been on the Internet all over the place, I don't really know who announced that but they're mistaken.
"Moonrise Kingdom" is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.