Beasts of the Southern Wild

Stars of The Beasts of the Southern Wild

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asking for people to come in and try to audition for a part. So one day me and one of casting directors were sitting and he asked me to audition. So I came in and auditioned never really thinking about really getting it because being an entrepreneur and a restaurateur it’s hard and very time consuming. It’s hard to find time to do a lot of different things.

So to make a long story short, I got the part. But I couldn’t do the part when I was offered it at first because I had moved my bakery from one location to another location and it was after I had moved to the new location the casting director called me and said “Mr. Henry you got the part”. But they had a schedule where I basically had to move out of town for two and half months and I couldn’t commit to that because I had just opened up this new bakery. Ultimately, they gave me time to work things out.

EBONY: But what do you think they saw in you that make them say you’re the one who right for the role?

HENRY They must have seen some things in me that I didn’t see in myself. Just like when you coach a football team and your team is out in the field you’ll see things in your players that they don’t see in themselves. And the same thing happened with me. Over the course of a year coming into my bakery buying doughnuts, having breakfast, us talking, they saw some qualities in me that they needed in the same character in the movie. He had to be a leader, and in my small community in New Orleans people look at me in a certain way being a minority, running a mainstream business. People look up to me. And all of my staff who works for me and everybody who comes in my store calls me “Boss” “Boss” “Boss”  So they saw some of leadership qualities in me they have to have in the character.

And that was one of things that helped encourage me to do the film, because after I told them at first that I couldn’t do the film, I remembered starting up my bakery 13 years ago and no one believed in me. Every bank, finance company, family, friends, everybody turned me down. No one believed in me. So  these people who wanted me for the film believed in me, so I gave them to opportunity to have me in the film.

EBONY: Do did you feel that you were acting in the movie or just being, in a way, yourself?

WALLIS: I was kind of doing both because in the film sometimes I was dirty, but I’m clean and I don’t do most of those things.

EBONY:  You mean like that scene in the film when you set the house on fire?

WALLIS: Yeah, I don’t do those things or cry. Or sometimes I take out a book and start reading unlike in the film when I’m just standing there watching. I’ll take out my textbook and write things down and answer the questions that the teacher asks us.

EBONY: But you two are the stars of the film. The burden of the film is on you. If you’re not believable in the roles the film doesn’t work.

HENRY: For me personally, I’ve never done anything like this before so it wasn’t a lot of pressure that was actually on me. I guess the pressure was more on the director and the producers being in the film business. I think they had more pressure on themselves than there was on me. Things felt so natural. They used to bring acting coaches to work with me in the middle of night at the bakery, since a lot of things were new to me. Professional actors from New York would come down and work on a lot of different techniques and work on the script and that was a big help to make me feel comfortable. And that was helpful because I’m not particularly that character in the movie. A lot of things that Wink goes through in the movie I went through in real life, but a lot of things I dont do like him— like he drinks and I don’t drink at all. I dress well, I speak well and there were a lot of things in the movie that was purely acting. We weren’t being our natural selves.

EBONY: That’s brings up the point, did you make changes in the dialouge where you felt the original lines weren’t true to the character?

HENRY: Yes! Benh gave us a lot of latitude. We would read the words in the script and he wanted us to say it not in the words in the way he would