New York magazine critic Matt Zoller Seitz’s lavish geekfest The Wes Anderson Collection is filled with stills from the director’s films, colorful illustrations, and images of vintage books — real ones and others created specifically for the movies. The Anderson visual aesthetic is ubiquitous, but it’s the director’s voice that is most powerful throughout this must-have book for movie buffs. His conversations with Seitz, whose insights into Anderson’s work add another welcome dimension, provide quite a bit of context for the enigmatic filmmaker, whose signature style has influenced more than just cinema, but also music and fashion. Anderson divulges every little influence he can, from other directors and movies that influenced single shots (Seitz points out the similarities between Jason Schwartzman’s Max Fischer and a young Tom Cruise “without the mastery”) to literary inspirations, from obvious names like J.D. Salinger and F. Scott Fitzgerald to Stefan Zweig.
All of those elements, along with a Michael Chabon introduction that adds an extra literary touch, make The Wes Anderson Collection so much more than just another book to go on your coffee table; rather, it offers rare insights into the mind and creative process of one of the most influential directors working today. Here are a few of the most interesting tidbits we took away from the book.
Bill Murray didn’t make much money for starring in Rushmore.
As if you needed another reason to love Bill Murray, Anderson reveals that the actor only asked for his SAG day rate to work on the film, which apparently came out to “like nine thousand dollars.”
Bill Murray tried to contribute his own money to Rushmore.
Not only did he not earn much for appearing in the film, but Anderson points out that Murray gave him a check for $25,000 so they could rent a helicopter for filming purposes. Anderson never cashed it.
Bottle Rocket didn’t get accepted into any film festivals.
Anderson points out that his first feature wasn’t accepted to Sundance, Telluride, or any of the other big festivals you’ve heard of.
J.D. Salinger isn’t the biggest influence on The Royal Tenenbaums.
There’s been quite a bit of talk about how Salinger’s Glass Family influenced the Tenenbaums, but Anderson points out that the film was inspired “more than anything” by the 1942 Orson Welles film The Magnificent Ambersons.
But even Anderson can’t deny the Salinger influence on his films.
OK, so, yes, Royal Tenenbaum does talk about how his kids are half Jewish and half Irish Catholic, and Anderson confirms that this is something they share with the Glass children.
Rushmore wasn’t Anderson’s first choice for a title.
Anderson originally thought he was going to call the film The Tycoon — and Seitz wisely points out that Murray’s character in the film recalls Rich “Uncle” Pennybags from the board game Monopoly. Anderson retorts, “Well, he sells steel.”
The uniforms in The Life Aquatic were made out of polyester.
Just typing that feels uncomfortable. Anderson admits it isn’t the best material to work with, either.
Almost all of the train scenes in The Darjeeling Limited take place on a real locomotive.
Anderson built sets on an actual train for the film. That’s the real countryside zipping by.
Anderson’s love for Jacques Cousteau isn’t limited to The Life Aquatic.
Not only is he the biggest influence on The Life Aquatic, but Max Fischer checks out one of Cousteau’s books in Rushmore, and there’s a portrait of him visible in Bottle Rocket.
The teenage stars of Moonrise Kingdom had never acted in a film before.
Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward were “relatively unknown outside of their seventh-grade classrooms,” according to Anderson. The pair had never auditioned for anything prior to Moonrise Kingdom.
The exterior of Suzy’s house in Moonrise Kingdom is an old lighthouse.
The Conanicut Island Light in Jamestown, Rhode Island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Rushmore soundtrack was supposed to be a little different.
“They’re in blazers but they’re more like sort of lunatics, which is also our character,” Anderson says about The Kinks, who he had hoped would comprise much of the soundtrack but in the end contributed just one song. With all due respect to the Davies brothers, the film would be totally different without The Creation’s “Making Time” and Mark Mothersbaugh’s score.
You can visit the house on Archer Avenue that Royal Tenenbaum bought in the winter of his 35th year the next time you’re in New York.
In real life, it’s at West 144th and Covent Ave in Harlem. Wes Anderson likes using real locations as much as possible in his films.
New York is never mentioned in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Even though the house is there, and the setting is obviously New York City, the film never actually specifies where the family lives.
The original Max Fischer was supposed to be very different from Jason Schwartzman.
Anderson originally envisioned his character as a cross between a 15-year-old Mick Jagger and Noah Taylor in the film Flirting.