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a still from fantastic mr. fox George Clooney is Mr. Fox and Meryl Streep is Mrs. Fox in the movie Fantastic Mr. Fox. (Photo Credit: Credit: 20th Century Fox)

Fantastic Mr. Fox Premieres

Film based on Roald Dahl book opens November 25

By Grace McManus | November 17 , 2009

When it comes to a film about animated foxes, it's fun to talk to the humans who made it. Several of the actors who voiced characters in the film Fantastic Mr. Fox attended the red carpet premiere of the movie in New York City recently. The movie is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name.

"It's the first Roald Dahl book that I ever read, and he became one of my favorites," the film's director, Wes Anderson, told this Kid Reporter outside of Bergdorf Goodman's department store, where the premiere was held. "I still have the copy of the book I got when I was 8 years old."

Anderson said he didn't know as a child that he would grow up to make a movie out of the story. But when he did decide on the project, he chose to use the time-consuming stop-motion animation method. In stop-motion, puppets and figures for each character are physically moved bit by bit for each action.

"I really love stop-motion," Anderson said. "I never thought of doing it any other way."

He particularly likes stop-motion with puppets made of fur.

"That's something I really enjoy in movies all my life—I don't know why," Anderson said. "There's something that's sort of magical about that animation."

kid reporter grace mcmanus with director wes anderson
Kid Reporter Grace McManus with director Wes Anderson at the red carpet premiere of Fantastic Mr. Fox in New York City. (Photo Courtesy Grace McManus)

Anderson made animated fur, but how do you make a voice of fur? Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep—who's a master of accents and the voice of Mrs. Fox—demonstrated her technique.

"I thought that it should be very silky, and furry," she purred, sounding just like a fox right there on the red carpet!

So how is being the voice of a character different from playing a live role?

"The difference is, when you're just doing the voice, I have to narrow all the other choices, the things that I would normally do with my hands or my face," she said. "It's like you're having your favorite meal, but then your mother says, 'Oh no, you can only have one thing in that meal.' So you have to make everything in this one, taste perfect."

Instead of having the actors play their characters in a recording studio, Anderson took them on "play dates" to a farm in Connecticut. He instructed them to act like animals while recording their lines, including digging in the dirt.

"It was funny doing it," said Eric Anderson, Wes's brother, who voiced the character Kristofferson. "Even as it was happening, I sort of tapped myself on the shoulder and said 'Remember this; this is a good memory.'"

Eric is also a Roald Dahl fan, and his favorite childhood book by Dahl is Danny, the Champion of the World.

Author Roald Dahl died in 1990 at the age of 84. Anderson said he would loved to have worked with Dahl on the movie.

"If Dahl had been alive when we started working on the script, I would have asked him to help us adapt it, to help us write it," Anderson said. "I wrote the script with my friend Noah (Baumbach). He and I kind of tried to pretend that we were Dahl while we were writing it."

Check out Kid Reporter Miranda Rector's review of Fantastic Mr. Fox!

Kid Reporter Miranda Rector also spoke to Director Wes Anderson and Lucy Dahl at a press day held in Los Angeles, California, recently.

Also, Kid Reporter Grace McManus writes about her red carpet experience on the Scholastic Kids Press Corps blog!


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