Though Fantastic Mr. Fox was adapted from the Roald Dahl book, Wes Anderson and his co-writer Noah Baumbach drew from their own — quirky, naturally — experiences for the movie’s script. At the New York Public Library last night, Anderson recalled one moment in particular that never made it to the movie’s final version.
“I remember being at a rehearsal of a concert at Central Park,” Anderson said, getting warmed up. “I think Sheryl Crow was in charge of the concert, and she had gotten Eric Clapton and Keith Richards both there. They apparently hadn’t spoken in 35 years or something, but they’d been best friends in high school. There was some falling out over a girl, and during this rehearsal, they were doing their thing, and something happened. One said something to the other, and there was a moment. People were looking around uncomfortably, and then Keith Richards walks away from him across the stage, and turns back at him and says, ‘I’ve still got the watch.’ Eric Clapton says ‘What?’ Richards holds up his wrist and says, ‘The watch. I’ve still got it. She never asked for it back.’ I saw that moment, and I was like, ‘What was that? That was interesting.’”
Faded glory, an idiosyncratic air of mystery, dinosaur rock — all Wes Anderson hallmarks. But the story couldn’t be made to work in the script. “So the rat has a watch,” Anderson explained, remembering the scene he and Baumbach concocted. “And we have a whole thing where the rat says, ‘I’ve still got it. She never asked for it back.’ But the line introduced this undercurrent. Had the rat had some kind of affair with Mr. Fox’s wife? It confused me.” Surely an extra dollop of Bill Murray’s wacky comic timing could have fixed this, right?