DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
About The Production
Casting Cindy Lou Who was a difficult task because her character moves the story forward and so much of her screen time would be alone with the Grinch which was a large burden for a child that Howard wanted to be no older than six years of age. His longtime casting directors, Jane Jenkins and Janet Hirshenson, auditioned well over 200 children.
Ultimately, Howard selected Taylor Momsen from St. Louis, Missouri, who was still shy of her sixth birthday when she read for the part. Her experience was limited to commercials and one episode of The Cosby Show.
"Taylor has a simple kind of honesty and a wonderful spirit," says Howard.
"She's the audience in the movie in that she's the closet thing to a regular, everyday person in the film. She's the voice of reason and the catalyst to moving the story forward that has a lot of impact on how the Grinch thinks and feels.
'She's got a wonderful spirit and a very simple kind of honesty that is truly a virtue in making a movie like this because her role is what's really original about the story, it's barely hinted at in the book."
The role that took even more searching was for Cindy's stunt double. Because Taylor Momsen, as a minor, could only work limited hours, it was necessary to find an adult who could double her. There was lots of stunt work for the character (in the post office, climbing the mountain, riding the sleigh) but finding someone Taylor's size (42 inches tall and 40 pounds) was difficult. After no luck locally, little people's organizations, the assorted circuses around the country, stunt coordinator Charlie Croughwell tracked down a circus in Russia where Oxana Nenakhova was a star performer. Nearly the exact size, her facial structure was similar and her athletic abilities were beyond question.
Finding the right dog to portray Max fell to veteran
animal trainer Roger Schumacher (who trained the dog in As Good As It Gets). Schumacher made calls all over the country to obtain photos of all the possible candidates to play Max.
Naturally, the dog chosen came from no more than five miles from Universal Studios. One day the Glendale animal shelter called Schumacher about a dog (a mutt with a bit of terrier) that might fill the bill. The dog had run away from home and the shelter picked the dog up. The first time cost the owner $25 to get the dog back. By the fourth time the dog had run away from home the fee for the owner was $100 and the owner told the shelter to keep the dog.
'She was real hyper when I got her and didn't have a lot of training," notes Schumacher. But when I started looking at the animated version (the 1966 Chuck Jones cartoon) I noticed that there was similarity in the eyes and when Ron Howard saw her (Kelly) and 20 other dogs of all sizes and shapes, he saw it as well. Though he played around with the idea of using other dogs, he kept coming back to Kelly." Ultimately, he got five other dogs to back up Kelly.
Schumacher trained the dogs for 15 weeks before production began, though Kelly did nearly all the work. The other dogs were used for specialty gags or did something that was counter to what Kelly had to perform. The biggest challenge for Schumacher was getting the dogs together with Jim Carrey (he was working on another movie during most of prep) and getting the dogs to accept what Carrey did as the Grinch.
"If Jim did a scene and wanted to knock some thing off the table, I wanted to be sure that the
dog had enough in him to think, 'this is all right; this doesn't bother me.' You can't plan every minute part of a scene ahead of
time particularly with a talent like Jim. He and Ron would come up with stuff on the spot and sometimes you're not sure ho
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