Newcomer Max Records romped around the set of Where the Wild Things Are with actors dressed in cumbersome costumes, while Whitaker and the rest of the voice cast did their work without ever meeting the actors who physically brought their characters to life. And at the Warner Bros Pictures LA press day, Whitaker talked about the challenges of delivering just the voice of Ira.
"I think that Spike is so open and when he’s looking at you and talking to you, he’s also guiding you. So he’s pushing you sometimes towards this thing," explained Whitaker. "I don't know what he’s looking for, but he’s like repeating it and saying again and changing it around trying to get something from you. So I think it’s actually, it was an exciting process because you know you’re continually moving and changing."
Whitaker fondly remembers having Where the Wild Things Are read to him as a child, and he's in turn read it to his own kids (who love it). His admiration of the source material made taking on a voice role a relatively easy decision.
"The book, as a kid I remember it operates on primal fears. It’s like a kid goes upstairs, the kid’s by himself and there’s monsters that come out and this world comes alive. I think the movie, I haven’t seen the final version of it but I know when I was doing it, I was realizing it’s like this person trying to express himself and trying to find himself and all of his fears and anxieties. To me, all the other characters were different expressions of fears and feelings of isolation or feelings of anger or feelings of things. As you’re trying to find and form yourself, wanting to be individual but then ultimately realizing you want to be a family. You want to be part of a community. So it comes back to that at the end, and they do too. They become closer, I think," said Whitaker.
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Where the Wild Things Are hits theaters on October 16, 2009 and is rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language.