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Spike Jonze on Where The Wild Things Are

Published October 13, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros Pictures
Where The Wild Things Are Poster Where The Wild Things Are
Spike Jonze got back to this childhood to make Where The Wild Things Are. The adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s illustrated book took Jonze five years, which still made him a fully grown-up 35 when he started. So why now?

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“I think it’s just when you connect to something at that age, then you grow around it and it’s sort of always in there,” Jonze said. “Those things that like, the music or the books or whatever that I really loved, I feel like you kind of have to carry them with you in a really deep way because you’ve sort of grown up around them now. I think I just identified with the feelings. As a kid I think I recognized that feeling and I think that’s in that book.”

It was a lot of people’s favorite book and still many children’s favorite. There are a lot of eyes on Jonze to make the definitive movie version. “It hit me as I started working on it and I realized how many people connected to the book from when they were a kid and people started talking to me about, ‘This is what its about to me . . .’ or ‘This is how it felt to me . . .’ Everyone had different things that it meant to them and everyone remembered different moments like, ‘I loved this part . . .’, and they would also remember moments that weren‘t even in the book because it had become so much their own. I think at that point, I started to get nervous, like, ‘Wow, this is very personal to a lot of people in the same way that its personal to me . . .’”


Sendak himself gave Jonze the confidence to move forward with his interpretation. “I talked to Maurice about to it, and he said, ‘I don’t want you to be precious about that, and I don’t want you to be precious about the book. You’ve gotta just make what this is to you.’ He said to me, ‘This book is what I made at your age, and now I want you to just go and take it and make what it is to you, and make something personal, and make something dangerous. He wasn’t like this protective artist. He was like this empowering mentor. So once that came from Maurice, he sort of set me free, and I just had to trust that I was going to make a movie of what the book is to me. I can’t really do any more than that.”

Jonze set a somber tone for the land of the wild things, and an edgy choice in young actor Max Records to play the wolf suited hero. “His performance is everything. He is the heart of the movie, and that was something we always knew from the beginning, with all the crazy way we were shooting this movie with the costumes and all the effects on set. We tried to do everything on camera. There were a lot of things we didn’t want to rely on CGI. But with all this craziness, in the middle of all of this, the most important thing was Max’s performance and carving out space in the midst of all of this insanity, this giant production. to give Max room to do what he needed to do.”

Where The Wild Things Are opens to theaters October 16th.

For the trailer, posters, stills and more movie info, go to the Where The Wild Things Are Movie Page.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Warner Bros Pictures
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