“I love the actors and their performances. I love the work of all my collaborators. Everybody did a great job.” WES ANDERSON, director
The latest film from Wes Anderson, the singular writer-director, three-time Oscar nominee and Houston native whose films include “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “The Royal Tenenbaums,” is his most Andersonian imagining to date.
Anderson’s unmistakable visual style, blend of comedy, drama, suspense and action, bittersweet tone plus a large cast featuring many actors with whom he’s worked before mesh beautifully in the between the World Wars-set “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
In New Orleans for a few days on the last stop of a promotional tour that included New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin and Houston, the director agreed that “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which opens March 28 in Baton Rouge, is even more characteristic of him than 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom.”
“This one goes further,” he said Monday in the intimate honor bar of boutique French Quarter hotel Soniat House.
Despite being an artist working in the medium of film, Anderson experiences a performing artist’s fear when his new films are released.
“I always have the same feeling,” he said, “which is, ‘Does this make any sense? Can anybody follow this? Is this working at all?’ ”
It takes some time for the director to gain even some confidence in his movies.
“I usually want people to like the newest one the most, because that’s the one I’m worried about,” he said. “Really, if I were to go into a movie theater and see the thing start, I would feel stage fright. Because I feel like I’m putting myself up there, even though I’m not in it.”
But making “The Grand Budapest Hotel” — filmed largely in Görlitz, a UNESCO World Heritage town on the borders of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic — was a joy.
“I love the actors and their performances,” the director said. “I love the work of all my collaborators. I felt good each day when we finished shooting, which is not always the case, all through the movie.”
As usual for an Anderson film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” features many returning actors, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and Mathieu Amalric.
“In some movies I feel like, well, a movie star has been cast in a part, but it would be better if that was just an actor we didn’t know,” Anderson said. “But in my movies, I can have very recognizable people in these smaller parts, because they’re playing parts in which they’re transformed.”
Murray and Wilson have each appeared in seven of Anderson’s eight feature films.
“They’re friends, they’re actors who I love,” the director said. “It’s fun to work with them.”
Murray, after being a principal character in “Moonrise Kingdom,” plays a small but important role in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” as a hotel concierge and a member of the Society of the Crossed Keys, an internatonal fraternity of concierges.
“Bill is one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet,” Anderson said. “But he’s also got a powerful presence. And he loves the whole process of acting. He’s happy to do a scene all day long.”
With the exception of Angela Lansbury, nearly every actor who initially agreed to be in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” ended up doing the movie. When Lansbury bowed out, Anderson recruited Tilda Swinton, the British actress who was so brilliantly villainous in “Moonrise Kingdom.” The transformed Swinton does wry comic work as 84-year-old countess Madame D.
“Budapest Hotel” is the first collaboration between Anderson and British actor Ralph Fiennes, who takes a rare comic turn as the suave Monsieur Gustave H, concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel.
“Ralph didn’t find it surprising or unusual to be doing a comic role,” Anderson said. “He’s very funny in the movie ‘In Bruges.’ And I’d gotten to know him over the years a little. I could see, even in real life, that he might be good for this part.”
Once production for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” wrapped, Fiennes, like many actors who collaborate with the director, expressed his desire to join the modern-day auteur again for more distinctive movie-making.