Scholastic Kids Press Corps
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A poster for the movie Where the Wild Things Are, which opens in theaters on October 16. (Photo Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Wild Thing Talks

Fun on the set of Where the Wild Things Are

By Mariam El Hasan | October 12 , 2009
Kid Reporter Mariam El Hasan with (from left) <i>Where the Wild Things Are</i> Director Spike Jonze and actors Catherine Keener and Max Records. (Photo Courtesy Mariam El Hasan)
Kid Reporter Mariam El Hasan with (from left) Where the Wild Things Are Director Spike Jonze and actors Catherine Keener and Max Records. (Photo Courtesy Mariam El Hasan)

Do you ever wish that you could go to a place where there are no rules? A place where you could be free to do whatever you want? That is exactly what happens to Max in the upcoming movie Where the Wild Things Are. The movie is based on the children's book of the same name by Maurice Sendak.

In the story, Max is a lonely boy who loves to play around in his wolf costume. He craves attention and acts wild, refusing to mind. When his mother punishes him for his rowdy behavior, he goes to his room where his imagination offers him an escape from reality.

He sails to an imaginary world where he meets monsters and becomes their king. There, he is able to be as wild he pleases. He has dirt clod fights and howls as loud as a wolf. He's happy that no one is there to prevent him from showing his wild, rambunctious side.

Yet, the movie is not just about wild behavior. It also about the roller coaster ride of emotions that can be life for a 9-year-old child.

The star of the movie is Max Records, now 12, who plays the character by the same name. Where the Wild Things Are is Records's first movie. It was filmed when he, too, was 9 years old.

His audition for the part was not a typical Hollywood script reading.

"I read a couple of lines for them, but I also had to attack my parents in the backyard with a plastic sword, and do water balloon target practice," he said.

He also had to put on inflatable boxing gloves and go a round with director Spike Jonze. Then he had to block foam bullets with an umbrella.

Jonze said that he chose Records because he best suited the character's wild and willful side.

"It was a demanding role for any actor," he said. “[Records could] play the wild, playful, reckless side, and then also the internal, interior part of Max."

Cast and crew had plenty of fun moments on the set while they were filming, Jonze told Scholastic Kids Press Corps. The fun continued during the interview.

"The whole thing was this adventure," Jonze said, just as Records pressed the button on a remote controlled fart machine. Records kept it up during the entire interview, proving he was a perfect choice for the role of Max.

As the electronic farting continued, Jonze went on to finish his story.

"Everyone moved to Melbourne, Australia, and it was a wild adventure to just make the film," he said. "Everyone brought their kids, so the set had lots of kids on it."

The kids dressed up in wolf costumes to make their own mini movies. The art department made fun costumes and toys to keep them busy.

Catherine Keener, who played the role of Max's mom, said the kids on the set had a great time and never got in trouble.

"When they were doing things like the dirt clod was so magical for us," she said.

The set was a lot of fun for Records and the other actors, but what about Max the character in the movie? Does having freedom to do whatever you want without parents to answer to turn out to be everything he hoped it would be?

You will find out the surprising discovery that Max learns for himself when you see the movie. Where the Wild Things Are opens in theaters nationwide on October 16. It is rated PG.

Read Mariam's review of the movie.

Wild Things: Wild Things too scary? Kid Reporter Mariam El Hasan says no. What do you think? Check out Our Blog.

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