Share & Connect
‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is a new movie by two-time Academy Award nominated filmmaker Wes Anderson (‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’, ‘Rushmore’). Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ tells the story of two 12-year-olds who fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. As various authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing off-shore – and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in every which way.
Bruce Willis plays the local sheriff, Captain Sharp. Edward Norton is a Khaki Scout troop leader, Scout Master Ward. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Bishop. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Bob Balaban; and introduces Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as Sam and Suzy, the boy and girl.
It could have been a risky proposition for a film director to cast in key roles two newcomers with little or no experience. But, as ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ producer Jeremy Dawson notes, “Wes Anderson trusts his instincts, so it came down to whom he felt he could visualize in these two roles – and, once again, he’s hit it out of the park in terms of the casting.”
Youngsters Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward won Anderson over at different junctures of what was an extensive casting process. After an initial audition and three more callbacks over the course of six months, Gilman remembers, “I was getting in the car with my mom on the way home from school, and I asked her if she had any news. She didn’t answer; she called up my father instead, and he pulled a Ryan Seacrest [/American Idol results buildup] on me, before he told me I got the part. I screamed, I laughed, and I cried. It was probably the happiest day of my life.”
Hayward’s mother was more straightforward in delivering the good news. The actress recalls, “I had just come home from school, and my mother said, ‘Guess what?’ and I said, ‘What?’ and she said, ‘You got the role.’ It took me a minute to digest. It was thrilling. My little five-minute video from the open call got me the movie.
“I love my character. Suzy Bishop is misunderstood at home; she is among three little brothers, a father with issues, and a mother who is having an affair. She’s very sensitive yet also a tough girl.”
Gilman saw his character of Sam Shakusky as “a good kid with amazing scouting skills; he’s earned all these badges. But he’s mistreated by his foster brothers – Sam is an orphan – and by the other Khaki Scouts. He meets Suzy at a church pageant and, over a year, they create a plan to run away together.”
Despite being new to films, the two young stars applied themselves with aplomb and dedication. Both of them memorized the entire script as preparation before arriving on location. “People tell me I have a good memory,” states Hayward. “So that didn’t really take me long. I read it over until I finally knew it.” For Gilman, the process was by necessity a little lengthier. He explains, “I had to memorize some of the script for the callbacks. Then, before filming, I went to several rehearsals with Kara for which I memorized basically all of my part. By the time we started officially shooting, I really had the script down; it was recorded read onto a file, and I listened to that over and over again on my phone.”
Image Courtesy of Moonrise Kingdom