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Jason Schwartzman on Fantastic Mr. Fox

Published November 12, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
The Fantastic Mr. Fox Poster The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Jason Schwartzman provides the voice of Fantastic Mr. Fox’s son Ash. Based on the Roald Dahl book, the film is definitely Wes Anderson’s take on the story, so Schwartzman didn’t have to obsess over the literary source.

Jason Schwartzman Goes Little for Fantastic Mr. Fox


“In a nice way, I think this movie is like a marriage,” Schwartzman said. “They say the perfect marriage is when two people can each have separate lives but also bring them back to have one life together. I feel that when I see the movie, I see Wes very clearly. I see Roald Dahl very clearly and I see the both of them together as partners. I knew the book when I was little and I reread the book when I was about to start working, but it’s been altered a bit. I think the book was more of my just an atmosphere. I read the book for atmosphere and just to re-immerse myself in the world of Dahl.”

The world of Wes Anderson was quite different. Where most animated movies record voices separately, Anderson put all of his actors together. For them, it was just like doing a live-action movie.

“It was such a fun and bizarre experience going on location to do an animated movie. We literally did scenes, like if a scene called for us to be outside, if a scene took place outside, we’d go outside. If a scene needed us to be digging, we would just start digging in the ground. If a scene had George Clooney eating, he would really just start eating a bunch of toast or something. The sounds you’re hearing are the real live sounds from those recordings, not added in later like in a Foley booth or something. There are so many mistakes and weird breaths and people cutting each other off and odd pauses. All of that is real.”



Call it method voiceover. “In terms of me pretending to be this character, I actually never had time to imagine myself being a little fox. I just thought I’m playing a 12-year-old misfit who’s grumpy and feels like he can’t get the girl he likes, wishes he was a better athlete and his father loved him more and just kind of tapping into a lot of the things that I in fact felt when I was 12 and 13. [One] scene was done in a house where we both started off, George and I both started off on the floor, I was in the bathroom and he was in the bedroom. ‘Ash!’ ‘I’m over here!’ ‘Where?’ We were really yelling to one another from two different rooms. Then I came running in and he put his hands on me, ‘Are you okay?’ I’m really acting with George Clooney and looking at him. It was highly intense and I think it definitely helped me get into the character much more. Yeah, I think that had I done it in a booth alone, I would have been pretending to be a fox. I would have been imagining it more to help me, but doing it with the real actors, it never once occurred to me that we were going to be come animals.”

The father/son dynamic is consistent with Anderson’s other films, but Schwartzman says it just happens to match Dahl’s original story. “I don’t necessarily think, ‘Oh, father and son, Wes Anderson.’ But knowing the piece, which I did, I knew the book. It’s about a father, Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s about this patriarch and the head of this family and him trying to rescue a family that he’s helped to get in trouble. I think that in terms of playing it out, I don't know. In a lot of ways because there weren’t cameras around, there was something that felt more personal about it, like we were really acting out some intense stuff.”

The Fantastic Mr. Fox opens to theaters on November 13th.

For the trailer, poster and more movie info, go to the The Fantastic Mr. Fox Movie Page.


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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox
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