The LA Times' Chris Lee talked to Jonze about his take on Sendak's Wild Things.
When Spike Jonze set out to create live-action versions of the classic creatures from Where the Wild Things Are for his movie adaptation of the beloved children's book, the writer-director had a very clear image in mind — of what he didn't want.
In 2004, around the time he also started co-writing its script with novelist Dave Eggers, Jonze rejected a number of submissions from a Hollywood special-effects company for being, well, "too creature-y." Jonze thought they simply failed to capture a bestial je ne sais quoi found in Maurice Sendak's 1963 picture book about Max, a little boy in a wolf costume who misbehaves and imagines himself transported to a faraway land where he becomes the king of all Wild Things.
"I wanted the monsters to retain the strange design that Maurice had created," he said. "Weird, cuddly, charming. Looking at each other out of the corner of their eye. They'd be almost, like, conspiring. You don't know if Max has total control over them."
Meanwhile, the NY Times' Saki Knafo was shown an early cut and spoke to Jonze (pictured above with Max Richards who plays Max) during post-production.
"It is a fantasy film to some degree," Jonze acknowledged, "but the tone of it is its own tone. We wanted it all to feel true to a nine-year-old and not have some big movie speech where a nine-year-old is suddenly reciting the wisdom of a sage." He hadn't set out to make a children's movie, he said, so much as to accurately depict childhood. "Everything we did, all the decisions that we made, were to try and capture the feeling of what it is to be nine."