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Catherine O'Hara on Where The Wild Things Are

Published October 14, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Warner Bros Pictures
Catherine O’Hara wasn’t called upon to be comic relief in Where The Wild Things Are, but she couldn’t help herself. She plays Judith, a domineering wild thing in the adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s book. First, O’Hara joked, “What book?” Then, discussing her memories of reading it, she said, “It took me forever.”

Catherine O'Hara One of the Wild Things

Seriously though, “I read it to my kids. I have a 15 and 12-year-old, two boys and read it over and over and over and over and over to them. Love it. Couldn’t imagine how they were going to make it into a movie. Thrilled. Thrilled to see it. Thrilled to be part of it.”

Spike Jonze fleshed out the characters of the wild things. Performers in costumes provided the groundwork and then actors like O’Hara added the dialogue. “It’s just in the moment, here’s what you’re going through right now. Less than any acting job I’ve ever had did I have any real sense of who I was going to be from moment to moment. It’s not something you normally brag about as an actor but the challenge here was just to be a kid and be open to every moment and to have as little preconceptions about it as possible and not judge it in the moment. Kids move on to the next moment. They don’t think about what they just did. To let go of that kind of thinking, just go. Go with it and Spike has such amazing energy. He just keeps you moving, physically and mentally.”

Where The Wild Things Are Where The Wild Things Are

Where The Wild Things Are Where The Wild Things Are

O’Hara and other recorded first so that the costumed performers could reference them. “They shot us recording. We had remote mics and sweat bands holding them on and we moved freely about the stage, all together, acting out the scenes. For about three or four weeks and we had 20-something digital cameramen, Jackass crew all around us and we all moved around each other. We each had one or two following each of us and then there were medium and wide, as kind of a guide track I guess for Spike in a way, a guide track for the people inside the bodies.”

Perhaps the biggest challenge for O’Hara was just getting cast. She said the endless pursuit of the gig was more than the usual actor insecurity. “A lot of phone calls, a lot of meetings, a lot of going to Spike’s house and reading the script and talking about life and talking about the script. Just talking and talking and laughing a lot. Very intense but in a fun way, good intense hard work. Then finally we got together. I guess by that point I thought, ‘Oh, maybe I do have this part.’ But never during all those meetings did I know I had the job so it’s really hard as an actor to let go of that, ‘Does he like me? Did I get it?’ But there was just a long time of him, Spike scoping us out. Maybe he didn’t do that with you.”

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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