Wes Anderson is one of my personal favorite directors. He hardly ever lets his fans down (I wasn't sold on Life Aquatic, but one miss still gives him an impressive batting average), and he can always be counted on to provide audiences with films packed full of quirky, unique, and interesting characters. His latest movie, Focus Features' Moonrise Kingdom, is no exception, featuring some of the best young characters (played by Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman) we've seen on the big screen in decades.
Speaking via Skype from London, Anderson talked to journalists in Los Angeles about the inspiration for this unusual love story, casting his young leads, and whether there's a possibility he'll revisit these particular characters sometime in the future.
On the film's tone:
Wes Anderson: "Well, I think it's a dark family film. The characters are not a tremendously happy group of people, but I do think these two children in the story are very motivated to become happy. They are very determined to be together. That's the direction it goes in. I think also at first the older people, who don't know what to make of this relationship between these two people because they're so serious about it and they're so young, at first the adults are kind of thrown by it, but then I think they get swept up in it."
On talking to his two young stars:
Wes Anderson: "I don't know how much advice I gave them at all. I do know that we spent a long time finding them. That was the crucial thing to me was to make sure we had the time to do the most complete search that we possibly could. And then we spent a long time rehearsing because I felt like the better they knew the script, the better it would be for me. By the time we were shooting the movie, they had the whole thing memorized from start to finish. They knew the material better than anybody."
On why Owen Wilson isn't in Moonrise Kingdom:
Wes Anderson: "It's always tricky for me. The part that Edward [Norton] plays, Owen could have played that part. I think it has some similarities to parts Owen's played in the past, and I've always wanted to work with Edward. But I do feel like Owen and I are so connected in our careers, it's almost tricky for me not to have him in the movie. I miss that. But Owen was a very valuable counsel for me. We read various versions of the script and saw the movie more than once while it was in progress, so I always feel like I've got his voice in the equation even when he's not directly involved."
On the casting process of getting an Edward Norton or Bruce Willis:
Wes Anderson: "In the case of Edward and Bruce, it was a very simple and quick process. Edward, I had been in touch with over the years and we had corresponded about working together. Same with Tilda [Swinton]. And Bruce, Owen has worked with Bruce in the past and had told me about him. In a way I feel like we had that connection going into it. So, Bruce read the script and immediately agreed - and so did Edward. That's not always been the case with people that I [want]. I mean, that's rarely the case, but in this movie it all kind of came together very quickly."
On the two young main characters and how the story was personal for him:
Wes Anderson: "I feel like, in a way I kind of identify maybe more with the girl in the story than the boy. She’s a reader and she's very invested in her own fantasy life, particularly through these books that she’s completely taken with. And, she’s also kind of isolated in her own family. In a way, I think she seems more like a middle child than what she is, which is much older than these three little brothers."
"Also, she has this pamphlet that she’s found on the refrigerator, 'Coping with the Very Troubled Child,' which she knows is herself. I actually did find that pamphlet on our refrigerator. That's actually one of the few things that is directly from [my life] and I knew it was not my older brother, it was not my younger brother, I knew who the pamphlet was for."
"The boy in the story is somebody where I think it’s a simpler matter. He has lost his family and he’s totally isolated, and he really needs someone to connect with. But anybody who ever feels like an outsider, which is practically everybody, shares those same kind of feelings that these guys feel I guess."
On whether the main characters are named after the two characters in "Muskrat Love:"
Wes Anderson: "Do they have names in 'Muskrat Love?' No, I didn't know that. In fact, this is probably not even legal but both those characters are named for people I knew when I was 10 years old. I have not seen them since, so I hope we’re not going to get sued."
On his inspiration for Moonrise Kingdom:
Wes Anderson: "Well, the first idea I had was that I wanted to try to recreate this feeling of being a 12 year old who at least thinks that he has fallen in love, or he or she has fallen in love, and how powerful that can be, how strange and powerful that is, especially for someone that age. The thing I was remembering was how it really made my life as a fifth grader turn into what felt like some kind of fantasy. I remember feeling like I was in a kind of unreality daze. That was the first thing, I wanted to try to get that memory of that sensation across."
"I worked on that script for a long time before I asked Roman [Coppola] to help, and I struggled so much. I really needed his collaboration in order to make the thing work."
On whether he'd ever consider a sequel:
Wes Anderson: "One thing is, Edward Norton and I always talked about that his character probably was going to Vietnam. Usually I don’t have any notion of that, but that was one thing. We had some images of some soldiers that sort of partly inspired his take on his character. But usually I sort of feel like when the movie ends, I want to leave everything else to the audience."
On what we may see on the DVD:
Wes Anderson: "We have various things but I don’t know what will end up on the DVD. One thing at some point I’d like to have [is] Edward Norton shot a lot of phone camera kind of stuff. He takes very good little clips like that, so I would like to have Edward create something at some point."
"One thing we do have is [that] the stories that the girl in the movie reads, every now and then we get a paragraph of one of these books that she carries, we’ve animated those little sequences and those will be released somewhere on Monday. I’m not sure exactly where they’re going to go, but we’re going to put them out into the world via the internet very soon. That’s also the sort of thing that could easily end up being on the DVD too, eventually."
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Moonrise Kingdom hits theaters on June 8, 2012.