Catherine O’Hara has done her fair share of voiceover work, but never before has she had her performance recorded while rolling around on a stage with a microphone strapped to her forehead.
“It’s not like standing behind a mike by yourself in a booth, like you usually do,” she says. “We were all together playing the scenes.”
The technique allowed O’Hara, and her fellow creatures in Where The Wild Things Are, which opens next week, to more fully embody their characters.
And, O’Hara admits, she may have embodied her character — Judith, a troublesome Wild Thing with a sharp horn — a bit too much.
“I was kind of shocked when I saw the movie and it wasn’t me,” she says. “I thought I was actually in the movie.”
Of course, all that time on stage gave O’Hara, a veteran of many great ensemble casts, the chance to work more closely with her co-stars, including Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini, Lauren Ambrose and Chris Cooper, something she appreciated greatly.
The movie is based on a 23-page book, so there wasn’t a whole lot of source material for O’Hara to draw on in defining her character. Luckily, the Second City veteran has something of a knack for improvisation, as any fan of her work in Christopher Guest’s films already knows.
But she and her co-stars also felt enormous pressure to successfully bring director Spike Jonze’s interpretation of the beloved children’s book to the screen. She’s proud of the result, even though it may not be exactly what all of the book’s fans are expecting.
“I know everyone who’s trying to sell a movie says this, but I think it is so up for interpretation, like the book,” O’Hara says. “And it’s as simply presented as possible, in the world of film.
“I know Spike really fought for that, to not explain everything, and to make it as open to interpretation as possible. And I think he pulled it off.”