We’ve always known that animation is a great deal for movie actors, since they can knock off an entire feature in just a day or two. But getting a whole role down in twenty minutes seems like it might be a record. That’s what Jason Schwartzman claims to have done while making The Fantastic Mr. Fox, in an interview to promote the Australian release of The Darjeeling Limited.
Schwartzman had asked Wes Anderson for some rehearsal and consulting time before recording his part for the adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, which will be primarily animated by Mark Gustafson (not Henry Selick, as I’d originally written). After being promised time to go over his character and motivation so that he could eventually make a good showing on stage with James Lipton, the day rolled around for recording at a London studio.
Says the once and future Max Fischer: "7 o’clock rolls
around and we still haven’t recorded anything. He says ‘should we
cancel it? It might seem a bit rushed now if we do it”, and I said
‘yeah, it’ll be too rushed – lets cancel it’. Thing is, he’d already
paid the money for the studio. So, he says ‘Lets just go in there and
mess around [anyway]’. And what did we do? We did the entire movie in
20 minutes! Every single take! It was so much fun."
(This does contradict one quote from Anderson that he’d recorded the film entirely outside of studios.)
Your guess is as good as mine as to whether this will end up being the only session done for his character; I can see Anderson pulling Schwartzman back in to work as the animation comes along. But for a famously controlling filmmaker like Wes Anderson, who’d already given up some measure of control on his last feature, the idea of having an actor record his entire performance in twenty minutes is just beautiful.