After adapting Maurice Sendak picture book Where the Wild Things Are the for screen, Spike Jonze began an extensive search, which lasted over a year and spanned continents, to find a child to play Max, the boisterous and disorderly hero of the novel. Luckily he discovered 9-year-old Max Records, who had only appeared in a couple of music videos.
Records portrays Max, a little boy who feels he’s misunderstood and ignored, who runs away from home in his wolf costume and discovers an island inhabited by strange creatures, who are desperate for guidance and decide to make him their king.
I sat down with Max, now 12-years-old, to ask about his role … as Max!
How did this part come to you?
I had done two music videos before this and one of Spike’s friends was on the set of one of those and, by word of mouth, I got passed on and they asked if I was interested in auditioning. Then Spike’s friend came to my house and had me read a couple of lines. But mostly he had me do stuff like go attack my parents in the backyard with a plastic sword (he laughs) and water balloon target practice.
On the final audition Spike had me block little foam bullets out of a foam bullet gun with an umbrella like a light saber.
Catherine Keener plays your mom in the movie. I hear she stayed on and help with the rest of the filming
Catherine helped me a lot. For instance, there’s a scene where I go into my sister’s room and I have to be really mad. Beforehand, Catherine was getting me to scream. She got me to yell all the swears I could muster.
What was your favorite scene in the movie to shoot?
One scene that was really fun was when I was running through the forest. It’s practically a minefield because all these dirt clods are being thrown and just exploding on the ground. The special effects team had hidden little explosives in the leaves and all around me was, ‘boom, boom, boom.’
Was it hard for you to keep up the intensity through the whole picture as your character is angry a lot? Were you able to cut it off and go home and be normal?
I guess probably my parents would know better than me. I would hope so.
I hear you took the wolf suit off on set and played around. Is that how you released your tension?
There was a lot of play on set; in or out of the wolf suit.
How much are you like your character? Have you ever gotten mad and destroyed something?
I would guarantee that I’ve probably done that.
How else is he like you?
I guess the way I’m like Max is the way any nine-year-old kid is like Max. They want to go hang out with giant 12-foot-tall furry things and have a dirt clod fight and make a giant fort.