Mary and Max is a sweet tale of pen-friendship between two people; Mary Daisy Dinkle, a chubby, lonely and somewhat depressed 8-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horovitz, a 44-year-old, severely obese, Jewish man diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the crazy loud State of New York. Mary and Max is an innocent look on the journey between two pen pals, spanning 20 years and two continents. The story explores the friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual difference, trust, copulating dogs, religious difference, and agoraphobia. Mary and Max is written and directed by Adam Elliot, an Academy Awarding winning stop motion animator. Adam famously won his Academy Award for his short film Harvey Krumpet, with Mary and Max being his first feature film.
Bethany auditioned for the role at Chameleon Casting in a brown dress, the only one of 40 other girls not wearing pink. Adam loved her natural, raw, daggy and innocent performance. Three months after her audition, she was invited to meet again with Adam, and tour his studio which was all setup and in production mode with stop-motion animators and model sets in little rooms.
It took six days to record the voice of 8-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle at the sound recording studios with Adam and dramaturg Julie Forsythe. As Bethany was only eight years old at the time, she was legally only allowed to work 4 hrs a day. It was a lot of fun, and very rewarding. Each day Bethany would wear her brown dress, have a muddy mark on her forehead, and she would bring in a chocolate bar or lamington. Her first foray into method acting.
In 2009 Mary and Max was the opening night film at the prestigious Sundance International Film Festival, it went on from there to tour the world with a major release in Australia and France, and to win many prestigious awards. Mary and Max is considered a cult classic and is currently in the top 200 IMDB films of all time. Mary and Max is now taught as part of the school curriculum across Australia.
“Told with affection for its ill-matched couple and featuring a wonderful voice cast, especially comparative newcomer, eight-year-old Bethany Whitmore, playing the younger incarnation of Mary” Tony Sullivan EyeForFilmUK 2009
Bethany Whitmore and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s voice-work complement the grimly witty details in the offbeat text and expertly created brown-grey visuals. Dan Parker, Empire Magazine 2010.