Making Higglety Pigglety Pop!
BD: And how did you get Meryl Streep.
MS: We had not yet cast the voice of the character before we had started shooting. This was a bit of a problem, so many of the shots were done before we even met Meryl and the voice was delivered by our puppeteer. Weirdly enough, we were given by Maurice, an old copy of a recording that he had done with Meryl reading the entire book from beginning to end, with him directing it, doing all the voices and projecting as though she were reading to an audience of 200. And it was great. So we asked whether she would do it and we were super lucky for her to have agreed. Also, this is not a typical role either for a voice actor or for the character. That is to say it's actually a synthesis of three people: the people who built the puppet, the people working it and the voice. I think Jennie worked really, really well as a character. This was our big nerve and I think we got her well. I think Meryl gave us a perfect performance. What more can I say about her that people haven't already? She even re-recorded some of the lines which we didn't even think were a problem later by herself when she saw her edit because she thought she could do things better, which is amazing. She was also right.
MS: We're about to find out. We're driving sometime soon with the film. We know he liked it -- he really liked it. But that's all we know. We haven't heard his actual opinion. So, he had the right to just stop it, but he didn't. He wasn't so alien to it -- he was really involved. From the very beginning, we got the chance to meet a few times and talk over the phone and discuss the finer points of what things are about. I think we probably got a better education of what the story is about than any academic who's tried to figure it out -- really secrets that we got out of him. Not only that, he got quite intimately into the script with us when we were writing the screenplay.
BD: What kind of secrets?
MS: Well, they're secrets.
BD: Personal, autobiographical?
MS: Yeah, [primary source information], that for our own good, we just needed to know what they were before we put them on the screen, presuming that they're something else. And there wouldn't have been any way of knowing these things if he hadn't simply told us.
BD: What new meaning did you glean?
MS: What new meaning? Interesting question. I don't know if I can answer that. I don't know if there is a new meaning. Hopefully, it didn't become anything accidental that it wasn't intended to be. And if it has, I don't know what that is. It's an incredibly dark story; it's a thinly disguised death trip. We looked at it from the Tibetan Book of the Dead angle and we looked at it from our own spooky mirror from the last film angle, which is a lady who packs her bags and sets out on a transcendental journey to someplace cleaner.
Bill Desowitz is senior editor of AWN & VFXWorld.