Cameron Crowe Reveals Why Setting of WE BOUGHT A ZOO Was Moved from England to America

     August 24, 2011


After a six year absence, writer/director Cameron Crowe finally returns this year with three new films: the documentaries Pearl Jam Twenty and The Union, and the adaptation of Benjamin Mee’s memoir We Bought a Zoo. Mee’s book told the true story of how he uprooted his family and moved to the English countryside to run a dilapidated zoo following the death of his wife. Crowe’s adaptation, scripted by Aline Brosh McKenna, moves the setting from England to California, and the director recently took the time to explain the move.

Hit the jump to see what he had to say. The film stars Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning and Patrick Fugit. We Bought a Zoo opens December 23rd.

Crowe is a fairly recent member of the Twitter community, and earlier today he tweeted a link to The Uncool, his official website where he periodically answers questions submitted by fans regarding Pearl Jam Twenty, The Union and We Bought a Zoo. Today he responded to a query as to why they moved the setting of Zoo to Southern California:

“The story was set in Boston when I first read Aline’s script, and she really made it sing as a universal story.  I watched Benjamin Mee’s BBC documentary, and read his great book a few times and knew that Ben’s story (while very much set in the UK) was largely a personal one.  I also knew a ton of places in ‘inner’ California that felt like my ‘Dartmoor’… places that felt far removed and would support a struggling zoo.  Then we found the Greenfield Ranch location, outside Westlake Village, and we all fell in love with the property.  Plus, I wanted to work with Matt Damon, and I think he gets things done pretty well with his natural accent… so we started casting American actors, reading with them, setting the story here in California… and the real Benjamin Mee gave us a thumbs up… and that’s a mighty thumbs up.  We filmed in ‘out of the way’ California, places that don’t normally turn up in the movies.  (Though Jamie Foxx had a place in the hills across the way and the rumor was he was tracking our movie through binoculars.  Hey Jamie!)”

So there you have it. I must say, it’s pretty cool of Crowe to interact with us mere mortals every once in a while through the interwebs. He frequently uses his Twitter to share snapped photos documenting the production process of the three films he’s currently working on, so he’s definitely worth a follow if you’re a fan.

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