PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Regular People That Make ‘Beasts Of The Southern Wild’ Shine

Dwight Henry and Quvenzhané Wallis. (Emiko Tamagawa/Here & Now)

As a five-year-old school girl in Houma, Louisiana, Quvenzhané Wallis probably didn’t expect she’d be acting in a critically-acclaimed film at age six. But when a family friend saw an audition poster for “Beasts of The Southern Wild” in the library, Wallis threw her hat in the ring.

Her co-star Dwight Henry is also a newcomer to acting. He runs a bakery in New Orleans that happened to be across the street from where auditions for the film were being held.

The two are now getting critical acclaim for their roles in the independent Louisiana film, which has picked up major awards at both Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival.

“It has a fresh energy, a fresh way of looking at how to tell a story on film,” said Ty Burr, film critic of the Boston Globe. He says it may be the best film he has ever seen at Sundance.

Wallis plays a 6-year-old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her father, played by Henry, in “the Bathtub,” a rag-tag community of trailers and shacks in the Louisiana Bayou.

Wallis told Here & Now‘s Emiko Tamagawa that the character’s relationship with her father is a driving force in her life.

“She lives with her father, follows her father’s footsteps and does anything she can to do whatever she gots to do for her father,” she said.

The strength of the on-screen relationship came naturally to the two, who almost instantly had an easy rapport.

“I have a daughter her age, and I know how to interact with a child, I know when my daughter [is] angry at me for whatever reason, I know what to do to make her happy,” Henry said.

When Henry auditioned for the part, he knew exactly how to get on her good side.

“I packed up four boxes of pastries — cookies, buttermilk drops, donuts… and when I walked in that door, I put a big ole smile on my face and I handed them four boxes. She peeped in them boxes, she put that big ole smile on her face and I knew I had the part,” he said.

Since he has taken the part, people have been coming to his bakery asking for autographs. Henry says that he hopes to continue acting, but he knows he will continue running his bakery.

“I’m going back to the bakery because that’s something I’ve been building for the past 13 years to pass onto my kids. I can pass that on, I can’t pass an acting career onto my kids,” he said.

Guest:

  • Ty Burr, Boston Globe film critic
  • Quvenzhané Wallis, who stars in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Dwight Henry, who acts in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

Peter O’Dowd follows the route of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train 150 years ago, to look at modern-day race relations and Lincoln's legacy.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

May 21 6 Comments

YouTube Sensation Publishes Her First Cookbook

Maangchi's career was born when her son suggested she start making videos of herself cooking Korean dishes.

May 21 17 Comments

UC’s Napolitano Speaks Out On High Cost Of Public Ed, Anti-Semitism On Campus

Janet Napolitano talks about a plan to freeze in-state tuition, and campus protests against Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

May 20 Comment

‘Finding The Good’ Through Obituary Writing

Journalist Heather Lende has been writing obituaries in the small town of Haines, Alaska, for 20 years.

May 20 3 Comments

Pandas’ Bamboo Diet May Endanger Them

New research examining the genetics of panda waste shows they would be better suited to eat meat than plants.