Rumours have flown about regarding the casting of Wes Anderson‘s newest film in production, The Grand Budapest Hotel. They started out with tales that Johnny Depp was attached to the project along with assumptions that Anderson would be providing roles for his ‘usual suspects’ (the likes of Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman). The Johnny Depp rumour was quashed ages ago and since then Ralph Fiennes has been confirmed as Mr Gustave, a character that the film centres around.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Anderson confirmed that joining Ralph Fiennes would be Saoirse Ronan, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Mathieu Amalric, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. There is also a “possibility” that Owen Wilson will have a small part too (I actually really hope he is in it, as Anderson and Wilson make for a great combination).
I think with a cast like that, there really is no need for Johnny Depp. I love that Anderson’s ‘go-to’ cast members are all accounted for. I especially love that Murray and Schwartzman are both on-board for another Anderson outing. I also love that a lot of the cast members are past collaborators. For instance, Brody was in The Darjeeling Limited and The Fantastic Mr Fox, Dafoe was also in TFMF as well as The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, which also starred Goldblum. And Swinton, Norton and Keitel were all in Moonrise Kingdom.
One of the reasons I think that reuniting with previous cast members works particularly well for Wes Anderson is that his films have a very distinctive style and his characters are defined to the tiniest detail. And though the story-lines are not directly related they are all part of a very idiosyncratic universe, and if you fit that universe you automatically become a jigsaw piece that slots into a very unique puzzle that is different yet contains similar traits every time.
Another reason is that Anderson has excellent taste when it comes to casting. All of his films to date have had ensemble casts that have worked perfectly. Everyone seems to work off of one another in a symbiosis that brings out quirky, heartfelt performances that make every single character portrayed unique and best of all memorable.
Now, if you are a fan of Wes Anderson films you will understand exactly what I am talking about, and if you are not, you will probably be cursing with disgust at my obvious (in your mind) distaste (as I am not really hiding the fact that I am a massive fan). The people who generally don’t like Anderson’s films either seem to not really get the humour, or actually just not find them funny, and they (so I have heard) tend to find his films a little overworked. However, the people who like his films are usually pretty wild about them. I am sure there are people who are a bit in-between, but I have not met any…yet.
In the Hollywood Reporter Interview, which talks a lot about Anderson’s biggest hit to date, Moonrise Kingdom, they asked how important it is to him how his films are received by critics and the public, referencing that both the Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited were received less enthusiastically than any of his other films and this is what he had to say:
I’m very aware of trying to manage my expectations and reactions, because with every one of these movies, you really don’t know until it happens, you know? Life Aquatic was one where it kind of just imploded the day it came out. I think it was, like, Christmas Day, and we knew just suddenly that it wasn’t going over the way we’d hoped. But Darjeeling? We had shown it in festivals and things, and it had had a limited release, and it was getting pretty good reviews. Almost every movie I’ve ever done has – Moonrise and Mr. Fox had better reviews, but almost every movie I’ve done has had mixed reviews. But Darjeeling, I really didn’t know until it went wider that — at least to my expectation — it sort of tanked at that point. I’ve learned over the years that if you make yourself vulnerable to that, you’ve got absolutely no control over it. Some of that is what people think of the movie in any context and some of it is how it coincided with what people wanted right in that moment. You know, you can choose to say: “I don’t accept that my movie has been judged validly. I will let it exist as its own thing. Time will tell.” And you can build up a little armor about it. I think you have to because it takes a long time to make one of these movies, and all these people have put their hearts into it. So if you’re really responsive to when it’s well received, you make yourself more vulnerable to when it’s horribly received. You know, whatever path in between that you can just keep going straight down. That’s the safe place.
Which seems like a sensible answer to me. I personally loved both of those films, but I can understand to a certain extent why they may not be as accessible as some of his other films. However, I do think that it doesn’t really matter, as Wes Anderson is the kind of director that probably in the not so distant future will be looked at for his body of work rather than just one or two outstanding films (I actually think for the most part people do that already as Anderson has a very distinctive voice in film).
The Grand Budapest Hotel centres around the trials and tribulations of Mr. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) who serves as the hotel’s perfectly composed concierge. It is a period “Euro movie” that takes place 85 years ago and it is inspired by the films of Billy Wilder and Ernst Lubitsch. It will be Anderson’s first solo writing credit (he has previously collaborated with Owen Wilson, Noah Baumbach, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman) and I am looking forward to seeing what he comes up with as the teaser story-line sounds like there will be a fair bit to work with.
What do you think? Are you a Wes Anderson fan? Are you looking forward to The Grand Budapest Hotel, what are your expectations?