At the Cannes Film Festival, where Asteroid City was up for the Palme d’Or, Wes Anderson said he realized during filming that his drive to make a movie stems primarily from his love of actors. “They are the ones who make me understand why I do this job,” he said then.
The actors return this deep affection to him, even if, as Bryan Cranston pointed out during a press conference held in Los Angeles on Tuesday, some of them have to read the script several times before they really understand what it is. they have to play. None of them had to be asked, that said. Tom Hanks, who is entering the world of the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel here, had even been hoping for this meeting for a long time. “There’s not a single Wes Anderson movie I wouldn’t have wanted to be in!” “, he confided.
Asteroid City, whose filmmaker signs the screenplay with Roman Coppola, was also written specifically for an actor: Jason Schwartzman. At the age of 18, the latter made his film debut in Rushmore and reunited with Wes Anderson six times thereafter. “It’s quite rare to have the chance to know someone for such a long period of time,” the comedian noted. The beauty of our relationship is that the spark of our first meeting is still there! »
For his part, Wes Anderson explained that Asteroid City was essentially born of three things. The first is the desire he and Roman Coppola had to write for Jason Schwartzman. They wanted to place the actor at the center of a story and give him a type of role he had never played before.
“We weren’t sure where we were going, but we still had an idea of the direction the character would take,” added the filmmaker. The second thing was to write a story set in the world of Broadway theater in its heyday, the 1950s. The third thing was to show in bright colors and cinemascope what the play is about. being made in New York. »
Let’s recap. Asteroid City, which owes its name to the large crater formed after the fall of a meteorite in the middle of the desert, is a small invented town that is featured in a play being prepared on Broadway. This is the subject of a television report (the presenter is Bryan Cranston), hence the use of black and white. In this year 1955, we follow the journey of gifted children invited to Asteroid City to present their inventions to a delegation of soldiers and astronomers at a time when nuclear tests are taking place right next door. Without forgetting the visit of an extraterrestrial…
It should be noted that this story, deeply rooted in the history of the United States, was shot in… Spain. This decision to install the set of Asteroid City in the country of Pedro Almodóvar was born from the desire of Wes Anderson to shoot “old fashioned” with real actors, in real sets.
“We probably could have done several things in post-production, but I think the experience is no longer the same for the actors,” Wes Anderson explained to Cannes. I find the effort to use real spaces worth it. I confess my preference for the old techniques, and the use of a green screen has never crossed my mind. I think the way we worked is more akin to 1930s cinema.”
And how come his love of theater and acting has never led him to direct a play before?
“It’s about the only thing I’ve never done because I’m afraid of it,” admits Wes Anderson. You must first book a theater before starting rehearsals. The presentation date is fixed in advance and you have to deliver something, whether you like it or not. It concerns me. I like to go back to an editing room to tweak and make sure everything is fine. You can’t do that in the theater! »
Recall that in addition to Jason Schwartzman, Tom Hanks and Bryan Cranston, Asteroid City stars Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Hope Davis, Steve Carell and Matt Dillon. To name only them.
Reuniting with a filmmaker with whom she has already worked by lending her voice to one of the characters in the animated film Isle of Dogs, Scarlett Johansson, who plays a dual role here, believes that the feeling of camaraderie that develops between all the performers constitutes the particular character of this kind of adventure. “Everyone is there and making themselves available, which is quite unusual,” she says. We are thus all on the lookout and we do not lose our way during the waiting periods. I think that’s what makes Wes’ set so vibrant, unique and empowering. »
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