Although Twentieth Century Fox’s new animated comedy Fantastic Mr. Fox retained the English countryside setting and its English farmers from the original book by Roald Dahl, all the animal characters are American. At the very least they’re voiced by American actors.
"The animals tend to have American accents and the humans are English," explains producer Allison Abbate. "No one knows what accent an animal would have if it talked and animals have nationalities. We started with George Clooney as Mr. Fox and that kind of set the rule to keep them all consistent."
To play the crafty, sly and decidedly roguish antihero Mr. Fox, director Wes Anderson only had George Clooney ever in mind. "George seemed like a natural choice," he states of the producer, writer, director and Oscar®-winning actor, "because we needed somebody who was going to be a hero, and I think he is that automatically. I’ve wanted to work with him for a long time. So we sent him the script, and he said he’d do it."
Adds Abbate, "George was born to play this part. He’s the right combination of Cary Grant and Clark Gable. He’s got the debonair, gentlemanly quality of Grant as well as the animalistic, sexy side. I really believe he could steal some chickens."
For Mr. Fox’s pragmatic, artistic and resolutely faithful wife Felicity, Anderson cast multiple Academy Award® nominee and two-time Oscar® winner Meryl Streep. "When else am I going to be Mrs. George Clooney?" laughs Streep in accepting the role.
"There is no better actress and she completely brought to life a character," says Anderson.
"She was an amazing choice," says Abbate. "She’s the moral center of the movie in many ways. She can be strong, she can be funny, and she is definitely wifely. She stands by her man and helps him get out of scrapes. She’s got a great relationship with Mr. Fox. She keeps him honest."
"She’s the one person he can’t lie to," muses Bill Murray, who voices Mr. Fox’s lawyer Badger and previously lent his voice to Garfield the cat for Garfield. "I mean, he can sort of try to deceive her but she knows who he is. She is sort of a magical creature."
In the film, Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Jason Schwartzman) and visiting young nephew Kristofferson (Eric Anderson). But after twelve years of quiet domesticity, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr. Fox’s wild animal instincts.
Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground without enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr. Fox at any cost. In the end, he uses his natural instincts to save his family and friends.
To be shown exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas (Glorietta 4 & Greenbelt 3) starting December 9, Fantastic Mr. Fox is distributed by Twentieth Century Fox through Warner Bros.