Wes Anderson Sets George Clooney ‘Free’ On ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’

'The actors have the pages in their hands, and you try it this way, try it that way,' writer/director says of his loose style.

Three times this decade, George Clooney has played a cool, calm and collected heist master in the “Ocean’s” films, a guy who can talk his way out of any situation and pocket a couple million as he leaves. Sure, his new movie, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” is a kid’s film — an animated stop-motion picture based on the classic story from Roald Dahl — but Clooney is once again in smooth-voice thief mode. And, really, the movie ain’t just for kids.

He plays the titular fox who tires of civilized family life and decides once again to steal chickens, snatch treats and otherwise loot the inventory of three nasty local farmers. And when it comes to Fox’s elaborate criminal plans and risky adventures, Clooney is very much in Danny Ocean mode. Director Wes Anderson didn’t get in the Oscar’s winner way.

“He finished a movie he was shooting in New York. My friend Wally [Wolodarsky] and I picked him up at his hotel and drove up to Connecticut where we met Bill Murray and my brother and the rest of our cast, and we started recording it on this farm, in the woods and by the river and in a cellar,” Anderson told MTV News. “And the recordings are really rehearsals, almost. The actors have the pages in their hands, and you try it this way, try it that way. It’s a very free way to work. There’s not a lot of studying that goes ahead if it. Instead, there’s just the chance to do it a lot of different ways.”

The actors ran around, dug holes, chilled underground and, when it was all over, the animators got to work. Designers had already been diligently making sketches, molds and models to find the specific look of the characters, each tailored to Anderson’s wishes — foxes, rabbits, opossums, rats and more. “Up until we started designing them, my ideas were very vague,” he explained. “I knew we wanted to have puppets with fur, and they were going to wear clothes. But I didn’t have a clear image of what they were going to look like.”

But with the voices recorded, the crew could start bringing it all to life. “It takes a long time to design these puppets,” Anderson said. “And when we finally had one to test with fur and could see Mr. Fox with George Clooney’s voice seeming to be alive, that was without question the most exciting moment in the process, because we felt like, ‘This can work!’ “