During the roundtable interviews for Synecdoche, NY today, actor Tom Noonan, who plays one of the "wild things" in Spike Jonze's adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book, Where the Wild Things Are, chatted with us a bit about the film.
Noonan confirmed that the film was not shot using motion capture, but is "mostly live action -- they shot us (the actors) in a room, they video-taped us doing the parts, and then they trained acrobats and dancers and had them imitate our gestures, then put them in the costumes and had our voices coming out."
So basically, it sounds a bit like the process of doing voice work in an animated film -- capture the essense of each actor's personality, translate that to the characters, then lay the voiceover on top of that. If you're familiar with the book, Noonan says he plays the "big chicken" wild thing. Noonan also talked about Sendak's involvement in the film:
"Maurice Sendak was involved. We'd do these video conferences with him where he'd be like, 'if you can't be children, don't be in the f*cking movie.' He'd say, 'I want to see children. I don't know any adults who are able to be children,' and he'd give us these pep talks where he'd say, 'don't do what you always do, do what you've always needed to do.;"
Noonan called Jonze "the perfect person" to help the actors go back to feeling what it felt like to be a kid. "He's really good at getting people to do crazy things." I asked Noonan if he's seen the film and how it looks. He said, "We've looped a little, and I've seen clips of it -- I've only seen little pieces of it. But what I've seen looks amazing."
He also talked about Catherine Keener, who plays Max's mother in the film. Noonan said that Jonze "didn't want the boy to be involved until the (wild thing) suits were on," so Keener "played her own son" and that Jonze stood in for Max part of the time as well.
Unfortunately, we had to get back to talking about the film we were actually there for before I could ask Noonan what he knew about the rumors that Warner Brothers wasn't happy with the final cut, or whether the film will be recast and reshot. He seemed to think the film will be released in his current iteration, though of course, if that's not the case, he wouldn't necessarily be in the loop. As it stands now, the film is still slated for an October 16, 2009 release date. That's pretty far away for a film that shot in 2006, which makes me think that someone at WB still thinks they have work to do.