FANTASTIC MR FOX
‘THE FOX IS SUAVE AND SOPHISTICATED. I THOUGHT, “CARY GRANT WOULD BE GOOD.”’
ever owned – the plot and characters had to be changed and expanded to make it into a feature. Happily the darker aspects of the novel have survived translation to the screen, but audiences might rankle with the decision to include American accents in the film, perhaps to the detriment of the novel’s cultural context. For the director, this was borne out of a need to acknowledge the limitations within which he had to work. ‘Noah Baumbach [Anderson’s writing partner] and I are American and we wanted to write what we know. So, we made the decision to have the animals talk in American accents and have the farmers talk in British accents, but so much of the story is really universal anyway.’ This choice may have been necessitated by Anderson’s use of actors who have become synonymous with his oeuvre. The director continues to write parts for his films with his stalwart crew in mind. In the case of Jason
Schwartzman, who was cast relatively late in the production process as Ash, Mr Fox’s teenage son, the actor reveals that he was reading drafts of the script while making The Darjeeling Limited with Anderson four years ago. ‘He gave the script to me and mentioned that I might like to try voicing one of the parts, but he was never specific about which part it would be. In the end the part of Ash seemed like the right choice to both of us.’ The casting of the role of Mr Fox himself was also relatively easy for Anderson. ‘The fox is suave and sophisticated and I thought, “Cary Grant would be good.” But obviously, that wasn’t possible and then my mind jumped immediately to George Clooney.’ Indeed, Clooney is perfectly cast as the urbane, handsome and athletic Mr Fox and he admits that he had ‘so much fun’ making the film with the crew, he too may become an Anderson ‘regular’.
While Fantastic Mr Fox has all the hallmarks of the director’s style, he is quick to acknowledge that the film is the result of a truly collaborative effort. He praises the input and imagination of the workforce at the Three Mills Studio in London where the film’s shots were painstakingly pieced together. Bill Murray also speaks fondly of his experience of the ‘British aspect of the film’s production’, even venturing that ‘this film could not have been made in America, it could only have been made in England.’ Clearly, all the cast and crew have warm memories of their time making the feature. ‘It’s just a celebration of everyone who was involved in the project,’ adds Murray, ‘we all just loved making this.’ Perhaps, in the spirit of the anarchic Mr Fox, there is no better recommendation.
Fantastic Mr Fox is on general release from Fri 23 Oct. See review and profile. 22 Oct–5 Nov 2009 THE LIST 19