“Moonrise Kingdom,” the newest film from Wes Anderson, tells the story of two young lovers — Suzy Sharp and Sam Shakusky — who run away together. Suzy is a disaffected young girl, who enjoys burying her head in books and is prone to fistfights at school. Sam is a troubled orphan, who’s been bounced around the foster care system.
A unique performance was required to bring these characters to life, and Anderson found exactly what he was looking for in thirteen-year-old stars Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman. Both are newcomers to film and went through an arduous open audition process before landing their parts. Adding to the whirlwind experience was the opportunity for the duo to act alongside such luminaries as Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton. (Not bad for two kids whose acting resume, up until this point, was made up of summer camp performances.)
Moviefone spoke with Kara and Jared while they were busy promoting their film at Cannes. Their answers on everything — from what Bill Murray is like to sharing an on-screen kiss — are as adorable as you would expect from two precocious stars of a Wes Anderson comedy.
I have to confess, I am incredibly jealous of both of you: You got to work with Bill Murray, who is a king among men. What is he like in those moments off-camera?
Gilman: He taught me how to tie a tie. I was trying on a specific costume where I had to wear a tie and I didn’t know how. All of the people in the room were women so they didn’t know either. And Bill just happened to be in the room next to us and said, “Jared, come over here. I’ll teach you how to tie a tie.” It was pretty cool.
Hayward: We had so much fun together at the Harper’s Bazaar shoot. At one point they put a giant tuba on his head and he began to play. I couldn’t stop laughing. He used a microphone and sang this song. He’s very musical I suppose, because they also handed him a guitar and he began to play and I didn’t know that he could do that. But he’s Bill Murray, he can do anything.
One of the most defining aspects of Wes Anderson’s filmography is his soundtrack. If you could control the music, what songs and artists would you like to include?
Hayward: Personally, I’d like something rather perky. During a slow motion scene, I’d use some Lana Del Ray; something that is fun and also very indie.
Gilman: If it’s a shot of some cool kid walking across the hallway, maybe put some Black Keys in the background.
How familiar were the two of you with Wes Anderson’s movies before “Moonrise” started?
Gilman: I had seen “Fantastic Mr. Fox” when it was in theaters and I had heard of his other movies. By now I’ve seen all of his movies. I love them all.
Hayward: I had seen “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Darjeeling Limited” and “The Royal Tenenbaums,” and I adored all three films. When I realized that I was going to be working with the man who made [them], it was such an amazing feeling.
What did he do as a director that you’ve never encountered before?
Gilman: Wes is one of the few true artists out there. He really knows how to get an idea in his head and turn it into an amazing script, and then turn that really amazing script into a really, really, really amazing movie. He does this so flawlessly, I feel like it’s very rare that you can find a person that actually can do that so well.
Hayward: To be honest, when I was at the summer camps performing in plays, we — the children who were acting — ran the show. The director watched and if there was something that someone was doing wrong or not believable at all, he would just mention, “Okay, maybe you should do it this way.” So Wes was the first director that I really worked with.
When you read the script for the first time, was there any aspect of the story that seemed intimidating?
Gilman: I was just excited to film the stuff ’cause it seemed so cool.
Hayward: I don’t think there was anything to be really nervous about because the adventure these two children have was amazing to read about it.
Not even sharing a kiss on-screen?
Hayward: No, it was a closed set and everything was very carefully choreographed and there weren’t too many people around. And we were in character, so this really wasn’t Kara and Jared, it was Sam and Susie.
Gilman: The way Wes had us on the set, he handled everything so well that we didn’t feel any kind of nervousness and we just felt comfortable about everything.
What was the best part of working with each other?
Hayward: Having someone else there who was really new to this and they knew exactly how you felt about not being sure sometimes or not knowing where to go or what to do.
Gilman: Same here.
What actors do you look to for inspiration?
Hayward: Other than everyone we’ve worked with? [Laughs] Two young women who inspire me are Emma Stone and Emma Watson because they are both very talented young ladies who are humorous and intelligent. They’ve learned to balance everything that they love with their acting career.
Gilman: I don’t really know who inspires me because I’m a huge movie buff and I like a lot of actors and actresses. There’s just too many to name.
Well, speaking as a movie buff, what are your favorite movies?
Gilman: A movie I just saw that I really, really liked, and is a great piece of cinema, is “Moon” with Sam Rockwell. I loved how they did the thought-provoking parts of it. [Even though] the movie was really low budget, [they] were able to pull off some really nice effects dealing with — oh that’s a spoiler.
That’s alright. We can leave it at that.
Hayward: I connect with “Little Women,” the one with Winona Ryder and Kristen Dunst. I love the setting and the beautiful time that they lived in and I also connected with the main character because of her love of writing and her desire to become a famous writer. That is what I had my heart set on doing before I discovered acting.
What are your creative aspirations for the next few years?
Hayward: I would like to pursue an acting career and it’s something that I want to do for a long time to come. I have been looking at some opportunities, but I am still waiting for a project that is just as beautiful and special as this one was. In the future I think writing and directing is something that I would be very interested in.
Gilman: Right now, I’m gonna stick with acting and I guess I’ll see how I feel about other things like directing and writing in the future. I’ll play it by ear.
What do you hope to accomplish with with your first visit to the Cannes Film Festival?
Hayward: Well first of all, most of the people speak French so I don’t understand a word. [Laughs]. But it’s so exciting to hear any one of them talk.
Hopefully, you get to meet Woody Allen; so you can say you’ve met Murray and Allen and become the hippest thirteen-year-olds that ever lived.
Hayward: I actually met Alec Baldwin the other night at a dinner party! So you got a triple threat right there: Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray and then Woody Allen — that would just be amazing!
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