The filmmakers were inspired to cast Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney as Edward Bloom at different ages after seeing a photo of McGregor and Finney side by side at the same age. Producer Bruce Cohen recalls, "There it was, the same smile, the same dimple, the same sparkle in the eyes. They looked eerily and brilliantly alike."
On casting Alison Lohman and Jessica Lange to play Sandra, producer Dan Jinks feels fortune smiled on the production twice. "Who could wish for two better actors to play Sandra, and who could deny the similarities - the cheek bones, the smile, the same feminine physicality."
What do you think of two British actors playing an American?
EWAN McGREGOR: I think we're all players and that we should get to play whatever. I didn't question that it was two British people playing an American guy. To be in a film with Albert Finney at all would be a huge honor, but to get to play him was insane, in my thinking. Although we didn't get to act together, it was such a beautiful experience getting to know him because he is a diamond. He's a lovely man.
Can you remember the moment when you began to think of your parents as people, not just parents?
ALISON LOHMAN: I think it's just gradual but you don't really notice it. For me there wasn't one big moment. You kind of change and grow together, and things change. I don't know.
How tough was getting the accent down?
EWAN McGREGOR: You worked hard on this (indicating Alison). For me, as a Scot, it's a much easier accent to do then a standard American accent because you can really hear it. You can get your teeth into it. Standard American is much harder because
ALISON LOHMAN: It's more lyrical, isn't it?
EWAN McGREGOR: Yeah, there's just sounds in it that my ear recognizes more than in a straight American. It seems to be a bit tougher. But it's a really lovely accent to use. I loved listening to especially older people down there in Alabama. There's a real beauty in the way they use not just the sounds, but the way they use words. It's really lovely [and] comforting.
ALISON LOHMAN: The perfect accent to tell stories.
EWAN McGREGOR: Yeah, I think that's right. It's probably no mistake that it's set down there. I met this great old farmer, ropin' old cattleman down there, a f**king real cowboy, this guy who was in his - he's called Bubba and he was maybe in his '70s. We just met him and we had a party at his farm. He had all my kids and all the local kids around. He threw this big party for the children, really, and he was lovely. He's really flirtatious with my mother-in-law, which was hilarious, I remember. But he was a real old cowboy and just a man of the earth. He was fantastic.
Was he working on the movie?
EWAN McGREGOR: No, he wasn't working on the movie. He's just a guy down there, a rancher from down that way, a nice bloke.
Why should people see Big Fish?
EWAN McGREGOR: I think it's a rather beautiful story about a father and a son.
ALISON LOHMAN: It's a Tim Burton movie.
EWAN McGREGOR: And it's a Tim Burton movie, yeah. It's not a hugely explored relationship in movies. It can connect to all of us because whatever our relationship is or has been with our parents, we can all relate to that. And it's a reparation of a severed relationship. It's hugely moving and it's a beautiful, simple tale.
Did you feel the sense of whimsy while filming, or was it just technical?
ALISON LOHMAN: I think Tim was great with that, like the daffodils. He actually had all those daffodils, so he makes it very realistic for you. The actor doesn't really have to work. You're not acting. He tries to make it as genuine as he can.
How did the finished film compare to what you imagined it would?
EWAN McGREGOR: It matched exactly. It kind of matched how I saw it frame by frame almost, because you're familiar with Tim Burton and his work and his style. When I read the script, it was no surprise to me that he was directing it. I couldn't have imagined anyone else directing it, you know. So none of it came as a surprise. The fish looked like I imagined the fish would look like. Before you start reading the script, you've got that because you filter through [Tim Burtons] visual sense. None of it came as a surprise.