Andrew Stanton Interview
Andrew Stanton Interview
Could you talk a little bit about the cast?

Andrew Stanton

Well, I'm the luckiest director in the world. It's the most outstanding cast. I think I really lucked out that right when I was trying to find the cast, WALL-E was coming out, so everybody would return my phonecall, everybody would come in and read. So I got to talk to anybody I wanted to talk to, which was a real luxury – I know that most people don't always get that. But I knew that the key was Carter. And I have been such a fan of the book for thirty plus years, I was waiting my whole life for somebody to put this on the screen and make it.

So I was like, 'Who's going to play Carter?' Because in 2004, 2005, I started hearing that other filmmakers in Hollywood were going to consider making it and so just privately I thought, 'Who's going to play Carter?' and I would think of actors and then the pilot for Friday Night Lights came on and the first scene I saw Taylor, I remember turning to my wife and saying, 'He would make a great Carter, but he's too young.' Because he was playing younger than himself, so I completely was fooled.

And I had no idea that a year and a half later, I was suddenly going to be doing this project and that suddenly I had to take seriously who might do it and I could never forget Taylor, I always added him to the list of all these names. And then I finally checked and I saw that Sean Connery was 29 when he did Doctor No, Harrison Ford was 31 when he was in Star Wars, Christopher Lambert was 27 in Highlander and I started to see that all these iconic hero actors were between the ages of 27 and 30, 31 and he was about to be 27 and I had to get past my ageism and realise he was just right.

When you're dealing with mythic hero characters like this that might continue on, I don't want to think of another actor, I want to think that they are the person that they're playing - and this is just always what I'm like as a film-goer. I would love it if I didn't know who they were already. It would be great if I caught somebody on the rise who isn't that familiar yet.
That's why there's no stars?

Andrew Stanton

Well, yeah, I mean, it wasn't a rule, but it was sort of ideal.
Was there any pressure to have a famous actor?

Andrew Stanton

That's an assumption that always happens with Hollywood, you think the studio's going to go, 'Oh, you have to have stars,' but that's old-fashioned thinking. The truth is not many stars open movies anymore. Not many stars are a guarantee of anything. That's how it's been forever and it's kind of stopped happening for the last ten years, that's just the truth of it, economically. So it's kind of a nice thing in a weird way, because when you're casting, the studio itself is going, 'Who is the best actor?', which is all we've ever done at Pixar – we've never gotten anybody for their market value, we've gotten them for their acting ability and do they match the role, which makes complete sense, right? That's why you should be doing it.

So that's how I got Taylor and then same thing with Lynn – she walked in for an audition, I knew I recognised her from other work but I'd never really thought of her. And she just had such passion and such strength and she just felt like somebody that was born with royal blood. And I just couldn't stop thinking about her, so she kept making the shortlist and then the minute I saw the two of them together, I was like, 'That's it.'
And Willem Dafoe?

Andrew Stanton

I didn't know who he was – no, I'm just kidding! I'd worked with him on Nemo. And suddenly he let me know that he might be interested and I was like, 'Oh my Gosh – I wasn't even thinking about him but he's perfect!' He's perfect – he has this nobility – I call Willem sort of acting royalty now. I kind of put him in the same category as like Sigourney Weaver and Clint Eastwood – they just garner respect just for standing in the room.

And that's what the character, Tars Tarkus was, you just wanted the sense that he came from noble lineage, even if he was kind of savage. And you wanted to instantly get that, so I just knew that he'd be perfect. Coming from my animation background, I knew that what was going to be remaining after we erased their image and put in these creatures, it would be about their voice, their eyes and their acting instincts, physically. You're really feeling and getting Willem's face and his gestures and the tone of his voice and the same with Samantha [Morton] with her eyes and her voice and stuff. I didn't think I'd ever be able to get actors like Samantha and Willem to do this, because it looks pretty silly when you're shooting, but I said, 'How would you like to wear grey pyjamas, be on stilts and wear a camera on your back, in the desert for 30 days?' And they almost took it like a dare. And they kind of wanted to do it and I realised that made sense, because they've done everything else and so this was kind of new to them, even though it was going to be difficult, it was kind of exciting for them because it was different.

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Content updated: 21/07/2019 17:23

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