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Interview: “We Bought A Zoo” Director Cameron Crowe

He’s directed some of the great American movies of the past couple of decades, but now director Cameron Crowe draws inspiration from a British story in his new film “We Bought A Zoo”, out on DVD this month. Matt Damon stars as a widower who buys a zoo in an attempt to have a fresh start for him and his family, but things aren’t as simple as he imagined…

“I loved the extraordinary idea of buying a zoo” Crowe explains.“ I would never have thought of doing anything like that myself, but it was a great story for me to tell because I related to it so much. I thought others would relate to it too.  When I read the book by Benjamin Mee (which the film is loosely based on)…  I could not get the story out of my brain or my heart. It’s about a man who throws himself into an impossible task to save his family.”

Damon has been praised for his central performance, and was always the director’s first choice.“He was the only actor I wanted for the role of Benjamin Mee” he says. “I had an instinct about Matt and I’ve always wanted to work with him. I knew we had to do this together. I loved the idea of Matt playing a young father. Luckily he loved the script and said ‘yes’.”

His films tend to have a very upbeat message, was this a conscious decision throughout his career? “It is definitely a choice I make to be optimistic” he confirms. “I think the world is filled with stories about loss and grief and sadness, and I like to tell the next stage of that process. I also like to tell stories that celebrate the times when everything that is great about life is present in a small fleeting moment. It’s not a formula; it is just what I respond to. I will see something in rehearsal and that will be a great little moment and we will put it in the movie.”

Finally, they always say ‘never work with children or animals’, so how does Crowe feel about working with a lot of the latter?  “The animals were really well taken care of and they each had specific trainers whom they loved, and the trainers loved the animals so it was great.  Working with the animals was not as tough as legend would have it.”

 James Luxford

James Luxford
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