Wes Anderson: the complete Slate interview.

Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom, His Directorial Style, and His Love for Music and Childhood Fantasies.

Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom, His Directorial Style, and His Love for Music and Childhood Fantasies.

Interviews with people who shape our culture.
May 25 2012 10:45 AM

The World According to Wes

Director Wes Anderson talks to Jacob Weisberg as his latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, comes to theaters.

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Jacob:  Will you go back to the stop-motion animation technique as a filmmaker? Could you see making another whole film that way?

Wes:  I would like to. I don’t know what the prospects are for that. Fantastic Mr. Fox, it’s not like we broke the bank on that one. Or am I misusing that term? Broke the bank means you failed?

Jacob:  Broke the bank would mean you spent a lot of money on it I think.

Wes:  Well, we didn’t break the bank. The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo, he won big. We didn’t do that.


Jacob: You mean the studio didn’t make out like a bandit on the film.

Wes:  No one did. I don’t know. There could be a lot of reasons why. One is I think stop-motion is not the most broadly commercial sort of format anymore—or if it ever was.

Jacob:  And also Fantastic Mr. Fox—while it happens to be my favorite children’s book, is not such a famous children’s book in America.

Wes:  You’re right. But probably if DreamWorks adapted it as a CG thing, it would probably make it huge and people would go see it—and they wouldn’t have done it in stop-motion I think.

Jacob:  Why were you drawn to that technique? It certainly afforded opportunity for your sense of style and the meticulousness of those scenes. When I was watching it, I kind of wanted to have the pause button so I could just look at that frame and all the things you put into it.  Why did stop-motion appeal to you as a way to make a film?

Wes:  I was always interested in stop-motion. I just like the kind of handmade feeling. It actually is handmade. I also always liked stop-motion that has a lot of texture in it. I think when it’s texture, you sense that you’re looking at miniatures and there’s something sort of magical about that to me.

Really, I always loved that book as a kid and somehow the two things together seemed like a perfect fit. That was really the beginning of it.

Jacob:  Were you a Wallace & Gromit fan? Those are done in stop motion, aren’t they? But with clay.

Wes:  I think I more got to know those after I started doing Mr. Fox because I was interested in that medium—especially the Creature Comforts that are also Aardman. They animated two interviews and those are my favorite of those. But the Wallace & Gromit also are great.

Jacob: I wanted to ask you also about Owen Wilson who, obviously, you’ve been close to personally in your whole career. We ran a piece in Slate once that argued, interestingly, that your films really changed when he stopped being your co-writer, which he was until Life Aquatic. On all the films until Life Aquatic—is that right?

Wes:  Yes, that’s right.

Jacob:  Do you think there was anything to that?

Wes:  I don’t think so, no. Owen has been involved in lots of my movies since then in different ways.

Jacob:  There’s almost always a co-writer credited under films –  Noah Baumbach. I’m not sure about the new one, actually. Did you write it with anyone?

Wes:  Yeah. The new one, I worked with Roman Coppola.

Jacob:  How do you collaborate with another writer?

Wes:  It depends on the situation. In the case of this new movie, I had been working on this script for a year and I wasn’t really getting it done and I asked Roman to come help me. A month after we started working together, we had a first draft of the thing—which was basically the movie. In the case of that, he just sort of helped me get it all straightened out and made into a story.

Jacob:  Had you written a draft? Did you pass the draft back and forth or are you sitting together in a café saying, “This, no this, no this”?

Wes:  In the case of this one, I had written the first 15 pages or something. He asked all the right questions about what was there and suggested what’s already happening here in a way I didn’t quite understand it. Then we spent the next weeks together just going scene by scene and making the script.

When Noah Baumbach and I worked together, we more started at the beginning and launched the things together. But I’ve had different kinds of ways of working. I think I’ve only worked with friends.

Jacob:  People ask this often, but where do your ideas come from? Do you feel that you have a bank with your next ten ideas in some stage of formation or do you actually have a process by which you come up with an idea for a film?

Wes:  I don’t know if I have any answer to that. Each one, at some point, I say, “I think this might be it,” and somewhere along the way when I’m not noticing, it becomes definitely the thing I’m going to work on. I don’t usually have an instant when I kind of stumble onto it, I guess.

Jacob:  Wes, Conversations with Slate likes it here in Paris. I really want to thank you for joining us for an interview.

Wes:  Thanks, Jacob. Thank you very much.

Jacob:  We’re all looking forward to Moonrise Kingdom.

Wes:  Great. Thanks for having me.