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Talking with the stars of 'Fantastic Mr. Fox'

Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, Wes Anderson, and Jason Schwartzman chat about their new film

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”We’re a bunch of hams,” says Bill Murray of his Fantastic Mr. Fox director, Wes Anderson, and castmates Meryl Streep and Jason Schwartzman. And how. Before the Nov. 25 wide release of the delightful family-friendly film — for which much of the cast recorded their vocal tracks on a Connecticut farm instead of in a studio — we gathered the quartet for an off-the-wall group chat about exploring their inner fur balls.

Did you approach your characters in a different way because they are animals? Or did you treat them all as people?
Meryl Streep: I thought of myself as a foxy woman. But I also had a really bad cold when I did the voice for it. My voice is normally a little high and squeaky, but it was really great in this. I can’t take credit for it. It was H1N1 or something.
Bill Murray: I made the same acting choice. I had a cold as well. It sounded real froggy. It’s a good time to leave voice messages for people, because they don’t know who you are. Or to play an animal. Those are your choices.
Jason Schwartzman: What can I say that they haven’t said so eloquently?

As I understand it, Bill, there’s an uncredited performance that you give in this film, too. You’re not just a badger; you’re a wolf as well?
Wes Anderson: We had one scene where George [Clooney] sees this wolf in the distance. And I thought, ”Maybe somebody should be the wolf.” Then I saw Bill was standing there with his hands in his pockets — his character is not in that scene. And he said, ”I can do that.” Then he kind of jogged up this hill into the distance…
Streep: You almost said ”trotted.”
Anderson: I did. I think he did trot. He trotted a long, long, long way away, until he was very tiny on the top of this hill. And he was a very good wolf. It almost felt like maybe he had practiced it. It seemed like a fully conceived wolf performance.

Do you care to respond to the allegations of rehearsal?
Murray: No, there was no rehearsal. It was a moment; I was touched. You know, when you show up to do a voice with a cold, you better have something else up your sleeve.

Click here to watch an extended video of our interview with the Fantastic Mr. Fox team