Our admittance to Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs grows ever closer, as the inimitable filmmaker’s new foray into stop-motion animation opens in theaters on March 23, but that still leaves us time to get familiar with the film’s key canine players ahead of the main event.
A new “cast interviews” short, debuted by Vulture on Wednesday, offers us introductions to the film’s raggedy pack of main characters, including Bryan Cranston’s Chief, Bill Murray’s Boss, Edward Norton’s Rex and Liev Schrieber’s Spots. We also hear from F. Murray Abraham’s Jupiter, Jeff Goldblum’s Duke, Scarlett Johansson’s Nutmeg (who, from the sounds of it, is sweet on Chief), Bob Balaban’s King and Tilda Swinton’s Oracle.
Cranston kicks things off by focusing less on his character than on Isle of Dogs as a whole, establishing that all of our four-legged heroes are rounded-up strays who have been stigmatized through “rhetoric and propaganda against dogs,” and dumped on Trash Island to “live out [their] days in discomfort.” Cranston’s commanding voice and insightful observations do far more to convey the film’s subtle political undertones than any of its whimsical marketing has, which adds a new layer to the onion that is our anticipation.
Other highlights of the short include Murray’s idiosyncratic ramblings (“Dogs are given by God in a way, and they’re a responsibility to use, not as a servant but as a sounding board, as a demonstration of what your obligation is to life,” he decrees), Norton’s chipper description of his character Rex as “comfortably middle-class” but “scrappy,” Schrieber earnestly yearning to own a dog like his character Spots, and Swinton referring to her canine avatar Oracle as “a lot of dog in a small space.” She concludes the short in memorable fashion by musing sagely, “The heart of a dog is a bottomless thing.”
Anderson explained to Vulture how the short came together:
When it comes time to do an [electronic press kit] for a movie like this, you don’t have a bunch of people sitting around on the set in costume that you can pull aside for interviews while they’re waiting for the next shot. So each of the actors did an interview and answered questions on their own—some recorded themselves on their iPhones—and we spent the next several months figuring out how to make those into the cast interviews.
The writer-director also discussed the process of wrangling the actors to record their segments—a producer recorded Murray while on the move in his car—as well as how his creative team went about designing each dog in the film to resemble the actors voicing them.
Again, Isle of Dogs opens on March 23, and if you live in San Francisco, you can see it with your own four-legged friend in tow. See today’s new cast interviews short below.