Focus Features .
Wes Anderson is one of the biggest directors working in Hollywood today. With classics like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou under his belt, it was a pretty good bet that his newest film — Moonrise Kingdom — would be a hit. And it is. Having seen the movie, I can’t recommend it highly enough. I recently interviewed the esteemed auteur, and we talked about the film’s opening at the Cannes Film Festival, his relationship with Bill Murray, and how he orchestrates the amazing soundtracks behind his films.
MYSPACE: I guess could you start out talking a little bit about the experience of Cannes and what that was like. .
WES ANDERSON: Sure. The, yeah, well, I’d never been before. Have you been? . No I have not. .
I hadn’t been either. And it was, yeah I had a lot of fun. As a director there you don’t really have to do anything. I mean, like you don’t have to give a speech. You don’t have to do a Q&A. There’s not really this pressure to suddenly be a public speaker. There’s just a kind of choreographed ritual of walking certain places and ascending steps and stopping and turning and stopping again and turning back. And you know, entering the room and standing and sitting. But it’s kind of a moving ritual. And I definitely had the sense of this whole movie tradition that we would, that me and my group of collaborators were joining into. Many of whom had been numerous times. But for me it was, it was kind of, it was quite thrilling. . Okay. And now getting into the movie. This movie, it takes place in 1965. And with most of your movies, the setting is a little bit more ambiguous, [as far as] when it takes place. Was there a reason why you wanted to have it in this specific time? Or did that just kind of grow organically as you came up with a story? .
Well, I think it probably came out of the fact that there was this narrative. I had this idea of this narrator. And he talks a lot about the weather, but he also gives us other kind of statistics and hard facts. And I felt like it, it seemed like he wanted to tell us where and when we were. And also, there’s this sense of this kind of historical storm that’s coming. Which also I kind of felt like maybe we’re at the end of a certain, you know, they’re at the end of the summer. They’re at the end of these kids, of a certain more innocent time in these children’s childhood. And in a few years America is going to be in a kind of turmoil that’s not quite there yet in ‘65. So it’s maybe a mixture of all those things. .
. Okay. And with all the new faces that you brought into this film, you know, like Ed [Norton] and Bruce [Willis]. Did you kind of have them in mind beforehand or was it more as you kind of auditioned you found that they were right for the parts? .
They were people who I had wanted to work with. .
But I did not, I didn’t really write the parts exactly for anybody. But I think as I was working, usually what happens to me, I’m thinking about these characters but as it goes on I’m started to think, well how are we going to make this into a movie and with me necessarily wanting to, I start kind of casting it mentally. And in this case we managed to get a number of the people that I was hoping for. . Right. And then with the people that you’ve worked with in the past like Jason [Schwartzman] and Bill [Murray] is it just kind of like, you just have to call ‘em up and they’re ready to go? Or is it with each project you just kind of start anew? .
Well, I send them the scripts and I tell them, you know, here’s what I’m, or here’s what I’ve got for you. And I hope that they’ll jump in. But you know, there’s always other certain parameters. For one thing, Jason was in the middle of a TV series. So we had to kind of find a little window when we would have him. And Bill, yeah Bill just jumps right in. . And on Bill [Murray], I just interviewed both of the kids. And they both gave me a funny story about Bill. Either during shooting or afterwards with publicity tour, do you have something funny that he said or did while shooting this movie or afterwards? .
Let’s see. Well, this not really a funny thing he did. But one thing that was very nice was, I had a house that my editor and my director of photography and I had a house that we were sharing in Newport, Rhode Island during the movie. And our editing room was setup there. And Edward Norton arrived for some rehearsal and he said, he would just stay in the house then. And when we did the movie he was going to move into a hotel. And he came and stayed for a couple days. We did some fittings and some rehearsals. And then he went back to New York. But he said when he was leaving, and when I come back I’ll just stay in the house with you guys for the rest of the movie. So then when the movie started Edward was there and I was, and Bill came over for dinner and he was in the hotel and he looked around the house and then I, and he left the room and he went upstairs. .
Then he came back down and he had decided he was going to move in too. So then we ended up having Jason move in. And my brother who plays a part he also moved in. We ended up with this great big group of people, a significant part of our cast was living in the house. And having dinner in the kitchen together [every] night. And that was a great way to do it. I mean that’s sort of like what you want to happen with every cast. .
. Right. Now your films are known for their soundtracks. Could you talk a little bit about how you decide what songs you want to include in your movies. Do you have something in mind beforehand? Or is it more after you’ve seen what you’ve shot, you kind of experiment with different songs? .
Well, this one I had a lot of the music, I spent a long time working on the script and I was sort of struggling with the script. But while I was not making such good progress writing it I was making a lot of progress figuring out the sound of the movie. And so by the time we were shooting it I had, even before I was finished writing, I had a lot of it [the soundtrack]. And by the time we were shooting the movie I had most of the music. Almost all of the Benjamin Britten music. And much of the other music too. . Okay. And what kind of music are you into personally, you know, aside from what we’ve seen in the film? .
Well, I don’t really think of any particular area of music that is as my interest. I’m interested in lots of different kinds of music. But somebody like Jason Schwartzman, he listens to much more new music. And he has a much more active kind of process of finding music, old music, new music, that he’s listening to. I sort of just, you know, see what kind of comes way a bit. . Okay. And last question. Your movies have these very defined, sometimes quirky, unique characters. How much of the characters is your idea, your script, and how much of it is input from the actors and actresses who play them? .
Well, I think the words are from the script. .
But the, but I feel like they, I, and again, to me and their improvisation is the whole way they interpret it. You know, the whole physical approach to these characters comes from the actors I think. And their personalities are really what really defines the characters. I mean, I remember there’s a movie called ‘The Dead,’ John Huston, ‘The Dead’ and Angelica Huston, it’s in Ireland. A James Joyce story that John Huston adapted. And this is very vivid great short story. But in a way the movie, the characters in the movie are more vivid I think than in the story. Because it’s impossible to conjure up what these real [people], what this cast of great actors brings. These faces and voices and the whole history of their personalities that comes through. The combination of them and Joyce is a special thing. So to me the actors are, they bring it to life. . Moonrise Kingdom is in select theaters now. Be sure to check back tomorrow; we’ll be featuring an interview with the film’s co-stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. .
Synopsis: Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, MOONRISE KINGDOM tells the story of two twelve-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore — and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in more ways than anyone can handle. Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the boy and girl.