Written Interview: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”)

January 26th, 2013 by

An interview by Rob Feld at WGA.org with filmmakers Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola about the script they co-wrote for Moonrise Kingdom:

Wes, you’ve worked with collaborators on all your films, I believe. They are all distinctly in your voice, so what does a collaboration give to you? And why was Roman the right collaborator for you on Moonrise Kingdom?

Wes Anderson: Roman and I worked together with Jason Schwartzman on the script for Darjeeling Limited. That story, the characters and world very much came from all three of our experiences. It was an especially collaborative thing, and such a good experience. I had been attempting to make this script of Moonrise Kingdom for about a year. I had a few pages and some notes, but I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t get past the first 10 pages or so. I asked Roman to read them to see if he could help me and work with me on it. He was very encouraging but also immediately asked several key questions that got the thing going again, and the two of us had a complete script in a month or five weeks.

What were those questions? And how did you see your roles break down this time in the partnership? 

Wes Anderson: The most memorable thing that began this process of us writing, that for me was crucial because it really had an impact, was when you, Roman, read the beginning. It’s maybe the first 10 minutes of the movie; these two kids have met in these woods. You were very encouraging about it but you said, “How did they meet in these woods?” And you said you thought they had arranged this, and I said I didn’t know what had come before that. So you actually asked the question, more like suggested, this is a secret meeting that has been arranged previously. It was like it was already meant to be there but I didn’t know.

Roman Coppola: And there was the question, Well, what do the parents think? I recall you saying “He doesn’t have any parents.” I said, “What’s the story there?” So, in the case of our roles, I would ask questions just out of genuine curiosity that seemed to trigger a response, and then you’d start to uncover the possibilities and put it down.


Roman, what did Wes say to you when he first described the movie that let you see what it should be? How did he describe the nature of this universe and its characters, and what they would and wouldn’t do?

Roman Coppola: My first memory of what Wes described was that this was the “island movie.” It involved two adolescents, a boy and a girl that had run away. For a period of time, it was a glimmer in Wes’s mind, so I was always curious as to what happened with the “island movie.” One time I asked him, and he said, “Oh, I have some ideas,” and played me the music from the opening sequence. When I heard it, that really opened a door. There was a kind of clarity to what it was, and reading those first pages he had, it was such a door opening on a world. It was very, very clear. That’s the type of collaboration you look for with people, where you have that kind of shorthand where someone can just play some music or give you a color of something, and you go, “Ah,” and have a deep understanding of what it is. That’s what Wes and I share, certainly with this story and other things we’ve worked on, this immediate understanding on an intuitive level of what it is that we’re talking about.

Wes Anderson: We know what this is.

Roman Coppola: We have to find it, but we know so many things about it; the feeling of it. Then it’s just a matter of getting into the specifics.

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  1. […] Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola recall their collaborative process in scripting Moonrise Kingdomand explain why, for them, writing dialogue is like a musical experience. Since his first feature, Bottle Rocket, Wes Anderson has forged a distinctive voice while collaborat… […]

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