He quirky, he’s whimsical, he’s maybe too enamored with the color yellow. He’s Wes Anderson—the American director whose dry wit and hyper-detailed films set an aesthetic standard for movie nerds the world over. Anderson’s quaint stylization has also evoked criticism for being too niche, too exclusionary, and too monotonous (in both color and representation!). With those caveats in mind, grab your most hipster headgear and partake in 47 fanciful facts about Wes Anderson films.
Wes Anderson Movies Facts
47. Outdoor Recess
The cast of Fantastic Mr. Fox often completed their voicework in the great outdoors. They recorded in fields, forests, stables, and a farm in Connecticut that belonged to George Clooney’s friend.
46. Whimsically Widowed Tribute
In Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox novel, Mrs. Fox did not have first name. For the movie, Anderson dubbed her “Felicity” after Dahl’s widow.
45. Vehicular Inspiration
Anderson wrote parts of Fantastic Mr. Fox while residing as a guest of Roald Dahl’s widow in their Buckinghamshire, England house. Some of the film’s bunk beds were even modelled after the bunks in an old caravan on the Dahl property.
44. I Promise I’ll Give It Back, Mom
In The Royal Tenenbaums, Etheline (played by Anjelica Huston) wears glasses that belonged to Wes Anderson’s mother. Like Etheline, Anderson’s mother pursued a career in archaeology after her divorce.
43. Oh, Shoot!
When they were children, Owen Wilson shot his brother, Andrew, with a BB gun. This childhood memory inspired Royal’s shooting of young Chas in The Royal Tenenbaums. When the film zooms in on Chas’ hand, with the BB still inside his knuckles, that’s really Andrew Wilson’s hand with the real bullet still lodged there.
42. The Stork Visits the Sea
Cate Blanchett plays the pregnant Jane Winslett-Richardson in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Right before shooting, Blanchett discovered she really was pregnant. Thus, she wore a fake pregnant stomach for half of her shots in the movie and bore her real pregnant belly for the other half.
41. Shotgun Improvisation
Bill Murray randomly pulled a gun on Cate Blanchett in the interview scene in The Life Aquatic. Anderson loved it so much, he wrote the improvisation into the movie and made them film different takes.
40. Aquatic Oddities, Animated Legacies
All the amazing undersea creatures in The Life Aquatic were stop-motion animated by the legendary Henry Selick, who is best known for directing The Nightmare Before Christmas.
39. Gained in Translation
Actor and musician Seu Jorge, who played Pele in The Life Aquatic, translated all the David Bowie songs performed by his character into Portuguese. He complied these covers in an album called The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions Featuring Seu Jorge.
38. Wes Gets Out-Quirked
Bud Cort, who played Bill Ubell, decided to lose 50 pounds to make it “realistic” that his character was kidnapped by pirates in The Life Aquatic. Anderson was very nervous, but Cort managed to lose the weight despite falling sick in the process. After all that, Cort says that unless you know him, you can’t even really notice his weight loss in the film.
37. Where There’s a Wilson, There’s a Way (Except Here)
Moonrise Kingdom is the first Wes Anderson film that doesn’t feature Owen Wilson in any way.
36. Big Boys, Little Stories
Anderson and Owen Wilson originally wrote Rushmore to have a heightened sense of reality akin to, in Anderson’s words, “a Roald Dahl children’s book.” Coincidentally, Anderson would go on to adapt an actual Roald Dahl children’s book, Fantastic Mr. Fox.
35. Lit(erary) Kids
Anderson drew inspiration from J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey for much of the child prodigy content in The Royal Tenenbaums.
34. Royal Tenenbaum’s Chocolate Factory?
Gene Wilder was in the running to play Royal in The Royal Tenenbaums, but he reportedly turned it down to stay in retirement.
33. Recycled Whimsy
Next time you’re watching The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, play Zissou’s tour of his ship backwards. That music is The Royal Tenenbaums score in reverse.
32. Motherly Love Speaks Volumes
Roman Coppola, the co-writer for Moonrise Kingdom, drew inspiration from his mother for Mrs. Bishop (played by Frances McDormand). Coppola’s mother also used a bullhorn to call her children together in real life.
31. Bill Covers the Bill
Bill Murray was prepared to sacrifice a lot of his own money for Rushmore. He was paid a paltry $9,000 for the entire film and even donated $25,000 to Anderson when Disney refused to fund a helicopter scene. Apparently Anderson never cashed the check, and still keeps it as a memento.
30. Imagined Places?
Anderson had never been to India at all until he wrote the screenplay for The Darjeeling Limited in 2006. All T no shade, but it kinda shows?
29. Train Game
10 custom-made rail-cars were specifically constructed for The Darjeeling Limited. No filming equipment could be affixed to the ceiling or extend more than a meter outside of a rail-car’s windows, which made things difficult. Anderson and his production team approached Northwestern Railways to customize special cars for filming from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer.
28. Ahoy, New Casting
In The Life Aquatic’s original script, a character was meant to be kidnapped by Indonesian pirates. Anderson could not find enough Indonesian actors in Italy, where they were filming, so the pirates were changed to Filipino. One of the pirates can be seen wearing a Longhorn’s cap, which is a homage to Anderson’s alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin.
27. Where There’s Smoke, There’s a Hipster
Anderson’s commitment to retro-chic is notorious. Case in point: Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums actually smoked a brand of cigarettes that were only sold in Ireland and discontinued in the 1970s. Anderson insisted finding this obscure brand because it fit the film’s 70s vibe and made Margot’s smoking all the quirkier.
26. Plan B
Anderson’s first feature film, Bottle Rocket, tanked so horribly at the box office that Owen Wilson considered dropping out of showbusiness and enlisting in the military.
25. Daddy Big Bucks Has His Doubts
Mega-producer James L. Brooks is largely why Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson had the chance to expand Bottle Rocket into a feature film with Columbia Pictures. However, Brooks had doubts about the young men’s work ethic; they never took notes during meetings and Wilson allegedly exchanged the plane ticket to LA that Brooks bought him for a bus ticket in hopes of pocketing the extra cash.
24. Filming From the Seat of His Pants
Anderson sent pieces of his own wardrobe to the Fantastic Mr. Fox puppet-makers so they could get Mr. Fox’s comfy, corduroy style just right.
23. Never Settles for Fake News
Every newspaper article you see in The Grand Budapest Hotel is a complete and coherent depiction of the events in the headline. Each was also written by Anderson himself.
22. A Screen Fit for a King
The Grand Budapest Hotel deploys three distinct aspect ratios to reflect the three distinct eras of the film. For the film’s beginning and end, the aspect ratio is a contemporary 1.85:1 to reflect the Author (played by Tom Wilkinson) talking to the reader from 1985. When Zero as an old man is telling his story to a younger Author (now played by Jude Law) in the 1960s, the film accordingly takes on a retrofitted aspect ratio of 2.35:1. For the most part, the film’s action in the 1930s, so Anderson takes on the 1.37:1 ratio—also known as the “Academy ratio,” which was set as the studio standard in 1932.
21. Questionable Racebendng?
In The Grand Budapest Hotel, young Zero is played by Tony Revolori, a Guatemalan-American actor. Oddly, the older version of Zero is played by F. Murray Abraham, who is not South American but of Italian and Assyrian descent.
That font that came to be associated with Wes Anderson is called “futura.” It’s not just a signature of his film titles: futura font also decorates the buses, buildings, and book covers of the worlds inside his films, most notably in The Royal Tenenbaums.
19. Close Enough Fur You?
All fur in Isle of Dogs was made from Alpaca wool.
18. Fetch That Record, Boy!
Isle of Dogs is the longest stop-motion animated film of all time. It beat out Coraline (2009) by two minutes, and it’s tied with Kubo and the Two Strings.
17. Playing Mind Games on M. Gustave
Instead of offering Ralph Fiennes a specific part in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson sent Fiennes an email that asked him to read the script and choose which character that he wanted to play. Anderson called this a “psychological game” to stop the actors from frequently telling him, “Well, I like everybody else’s parts—I’m not so sure about my guy.”
16. From Concierge to Hollywood Close-ups
Most staff in the “Grand Budapest Hotel” (from The Grand Budapest Hotel) weren’t actors—they were actual hospitality workers whom the film crew recruited from various hotels and locations patronized during production
15. Brother, Can You Spare a Lime?
To achieve a realistic limp in The Darjeeling Limited, Owen Wilson placed a small lime in his shoe.
14. Cheaters Finally Prosper
Owen Wilson was expelled from the school where they filmed Bottle Rocket. He had copied answers from his geometry teacher’s textbook at St. Mark’s High School in Dallas.
13. A Jet-Set Quickie
Natalie Portman flew to India for just a half-hour of work in The Darjeeling Limited (though she had done more work on the prologue, Hotel Chevalier, earlier).
12. The Center of Attention
So how does Wes Anderson achieve those perfectly symmetrical, diorama-like shots? Planimetric staging! It’s a technique where the camera is positioned at a 90-degree angle with the subject, delivering an almost perfectly symmetrical composition.
11. Max Returns!
Jason Schwartzman revived his Max Fischer character (and The Max Fischer Players!) for a series of shorts promoting the 1999 MTV Movie Awards. Each short restaged a MTV-nominated film using a Wes Anderson-style and Rushmore characters.
10. Private Dance for Two (and Two More)
The beach dance scene between Suzy and Sam in Moonrise Kingdom was saved for the very last day of shooting so the young leads would be at their most comfortable with each other. It was done on a closed set with just the actors, Wes Anderson, and the cameraman.
9. Kiss Goodbye
The words “For Juman” appear at the corner in the very last shot of Moonrise Kingdom. This is a tribute to Wes Anderson’s girlfriend, Juman Malouf (who also voiced Agnes in Fantastic Mr. Fox).
8. Snape and Scar as Social Workers?
Although Tilda Swinton ultimately nabbed the role of “Social Services” in Moonrise Kingdom, her part was also offered to Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons.
7. From Drabbles to Doodles
In Moonrise Kingdom, Suzy (played by Kara Hayward) packs six fictitious YA novels that she stole from the library. Six artists were commissioned to give each book a unique style, and Wes Anderson even wrote passages for them. In 2012, Anderson released animations of all six books, each accompanied by the voice of the Moonrise Kingdom narrator Bob Balaban.
6. No Money, No Problem
Every actor in Hotel Chevalier appeared in the short for free. Anderson financed the rest of the production himself.
5. The Royal Tenen-burns
Anjelica Houston’s hair caught fire from a candle as they were filming Margot’s birthday in The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson credits Kumar Pallana (who played Pagoda) for extinguishing the blaze before anyone was seriously hurt.
4. Move Over MCU
Hotel Chevalier was not written as a prologue to The Darjeeling Limited. However, Anderson realized shortly before filming that Jason Schwartzman’s character deeply resembled one of the protagonists of a film Anderson was in the middle of writing (that of course would Darjeeling, which began production shortly after). He repositioned Schwartzman’s character as the same person, uniting Chevalier and Darjeeling in the same cinematic universe.
3. Wes Anderson Was Watching You From the Skies
GoogleEarth was Anderson’s go-to method when scouting the perfect location for Moonrise Kingdom. In his words, he was searching for “naked wildlife” ambience. So of course the Internet was the solution.
2. We Don’t Negotiate With Birdnappers
While filming The Royal Tenenbaums, Mordecai the hawk was kidnapped and held for ransom. The production schedule could not spare time to negotiate, which is why Mordecai returns to Richie “traumatized” with white feathers; they simply bought a different bird.
1. A Royal Pain
On the set of The Royal Tenenbaums, Gene Hackman once told Wes Anderson to “pull up [his] pants” and called the director the c-word, among other aggressions. In fact, the cast and crew found Hackman increasingly scary and irritable as filming went on. The only person whom Hackman could never intimidate was Bill Murray. Inevitability, Murray found himself positioned as the set peacekeeper and supervised many of Hackman’s scenes himself.