Metro

Asteroid City director Wes Anderson admits actors reject his movies

Metro logo Metro 23.06.2023 17:54:26 Larushka Ivan-Zadeh
Wes Anderson's extraordinary precision isn't for everyone (Picture: EPA)

Asteroid City boasts the largest, starriest cast of the year - a problem when it comes to trying to squish into one screen for a group online press call.

With that in mind, it's perhaps good news Margot Robbie, Matt Dillon, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton and Steve Carell couldn't make it today for what's already resembling an Oscars' night selfie.

Who we do have is Scarlett Johansson, Maya Hawke, Adrien Brody, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright and Bryan Cranston, plus the director himself, Wes Anderson.

So, what makes this quirky comedy-romance-sci-fi set around a 1955 junior stargazer competition in the desert such a hot ticket? Well, it's a Wes Anderson movie.

Johansson, who took a pay cut (to a mere $4,131 a week) to work with him again (she voiced Nutmeg the showdog in Isle Of Dogs), explains what makes that experience so special.

'It's that sense of camaraderie that you have,' she says, of playing the female lead, the fragile Hollywood actress, Midge Campbell.

Instead of jostling for the limelight, the many performers support each other to make 'this beautiful sort of orchestra'.

Today her Breton top even perfectly complements the light blue stripes on Anderson's typically dapper suit (accessorized by canary yellow socks).

That on-set harmony extended off-set too. Sat in the back row today, befitting her status as an Anderson newbie, Hawke (daughter of Ethan) recalls how, when she asked about getting to know the regulars, 'Wes is like "Why don't we just have dinner every night together?"' 'And then we all stay in the same hotel,' chimes in Brody (a five-times Anderson player), often 'fully dressed in character'.

Another newcomer is Hanks, who plays 'a retired Ronald Reagan type.' He admits he's wanted to join Anderson's ever-expanding troupe for years. 'I haven't seen a Wes Anderson movie that I didn't wish that I was in. So it was great to be a part of this.'

He's not alone in wanting to climb into the director's exquisite, over-stylised world - just look at the current TikTok-led craze for constructing homages to it.

Yet if Anderson's irresistible visual aesthetic and attention to detail is remarkable, his extraordinary precision comes at a cost. And it's not for everyone.

'Actors do say no to me,' an eternally sheepish-looking Anderson admits.

Wright (The French Dispatch), who plays the US army general hosting the junior stargazer awards, recalls one particularly testing day. 'We were doing the inserts [a close-up shot focusing on a specific detail]. Normally those take say five or 10 minutes and, boom, you're done.

'We did an insert for this film in which my hand touches the gun holster, flips up the flap and grips the weapon. That took about 60 takes and four hours. But I understood why. It was really about trying to find a certain cleanliness to the thing.'

'Four hours?!' says a mind-boggled Johansson. 'You guys should've called me! I'm great at inserts.'

'I'll tell you what the problem is', Anderson himself inserts. 'There was no flap in the cartoon.' By 'cartoon' he's referring to the infamous, much-sought-after, super-detailed animated storyboards he always creates before he starts shooting. And that he sticks to like glue.

'I wondered whether that meant we were able to have ideas,' says Hanks. 'I asked some of the veterans, and they said, "Yeah, sure." I remember suggesting something and Wes agreed. I called home straight after and said: 'He took the idea!'.

Not all the cast loved Anderson's prescriptive auteur style. Another newbie, Breaking Bad star Cranston, who plays the narrator, has confessed he found making Asteroid City a 'very difficult' experience and was often left thinking 'what does it mean? It's so specific and so dense with detail that I had to read the script a few times to really get a sense of what we're doing.'

You sense Cranston may not become an Anderson regular, yet he found the resulting movie 'a nice surprise'.

Asteroid City is, in the end, another, quintessentially Wes Anderson creation. And it's Cranston who nutshells its unique quality. 'We can only take a glimpse into the head of Wes Anderson,' he says. 'We can't live there. That's his domain. We can only visit.'

Asteroid City is out today in cinemas

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vendredi 23 juin 2023 20:54:26 Categories: Metro

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