Wes Anderson on Fantastic Mr. Fox's Soundtrack, His Original Choice For Mrs. Fox, and Its Debt to Rudolph


As we mentioned this morning, if you happen to live in either of the great coastal American meccas, you're lucky enough to have access to The Fantastic Mr. Fox. A dioramic dramedy in brilliant fall colors, Fox has the honor of being Wes Anderson's first children's and animated film -- but is smart and wry enough to satisfy fans of all ages. Movieline cornered him shortly before the London premiere for a few questions:

How do you choose the pop songs you put in your films?

"I think with this one, let's see -- the first thing we did was Noah Baumbach and I had written some lyrics. So we asked Jarvis Cocker to do the song. That was the first music we had. We had this French banjo player and we had this song. That sort of linked to other things. I started listening to music from other children's films. We had Davy Crockett, Robin Hood, Burl Ives."

Wasn't he the narrator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?

"Probably. He was definitely in some of those Christmas specials. He played a snowman."

The quality of animation in Mr. Fox was very reminiscent of those. Was that intentional?

"Yes. I loved those specials. There's something magical about that kind of primitive style of stop-motion."

Is it true Cate Blanchett had originally been cast as Mrs. Fox, the character voiced by Meryl Streep?

"That was before we had really gotten the movie going. I had spoken to Cate around the time of Life Aquatic. But she wasn't really available. We never really got very far with that. I think that was on the internet before it was really meant to be. For a long time there were versions of the cast out there that were not very accurate."

We refer you now back to our fifth question -- what is Mr. Anderson's favorite movie scene? -- which led to a sixth, more problematic question. (He was whisked away by handlers after he delivered his one-word answer, before he could make like his characters and burrow himself any deeper into a hole from which he couldn't have possibly emerged.)

As for his famous (or infamous) techniques of directing via teleconferenced pantomime, he had this to say: "It's true that I filmed myself doing things. But that's a very common thing that people do in animation. They have a term for them -- LAVs. I have no idea what that stands for. It must be live-action something-or-other. But people do that often with animated films. I would do them on Flips, and e-mail them in. It's really just a shorthand."

Here is a behind-the-scenes featurette of the director doing just that: acting out the sequences for his animators in LAVs so that they might capture his precise body language just so.

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