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Wes Anderson: Bill Murray Was Paid $9,000 for ‘Rushmore’

Director spills details of career in new book

There’s plenty of untold stories behind Wes Anderson’s fantastical works, but the director and screenwriter gives cinephiles a glimpse in Matt Zoller Seitz’s “The Wes Anderson Collection.” The author of the book posted some excerpts in an article for Vulture today, featuring secrets behind “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore” and more.

In the article, Seitz reports that “Bottle Rocket,” Anderson’s breakout short, was never meant to be a short. In fact, it was meant to be the first part of a feature. However, when they tried to sell it as such, it was a “disaster.”

“We didn’t get into Sundance. We didn’t get into Telluride. We didn’t get into New York,” he said of screening the comedy-drama as a feature. “Once we screened the movie for an audience and 85 people walked out, we knew the coach was about to turn back into a pumpkin.”

The short was released in 1994, with the feature released two years later.

Another trademark film for the director, “The Royal Tenenbaums,” was inspired by Maurice Ravel’s “String Quartet in F Major,” which made it into the 2001 movie. The song led him to imagine “an F. Scott Fitzgerald-type New York story” that he pictured being set in the 1960s. Additionally, Gene Hackman didn’t appreciate Anderson writing his role of Royal Tenenbaum for him.

“I don’t like it when people write for me, because you don’t know me, and I don’t want what you think is me,” Hackman reportedly told Anderson.

While “Rushmore” helped established Bill Murray’s career in independent films, he didn’t gain very much on the financial side from it. In fact, according to Anderson, he earned a paltry $9,000 for the film — and was apparently willing to shell out more than that to help its production. When Disney wouldn’t pay for a helicopter for a montage in the movie, Murray wrote a check for $25,000 to provide it, which Anderson still has, uncashed.

Anderson also gave some info on the relationship between him and leading man favorite and sometimes writing partner Owen Wilson. They took a playwriting class at the U. of Texas together but didn’t become friends until Wilson just started acting like they were.

“We were signing up for classes and he started asking me to help him figure out what he should do, as if we knew each other,” Anderson said. “As if we had ever spoken before or knew each other’s names. I almost feel like he was taking it for granted that if we didn’t know each other yet, soon we would.”

“The Wes Anderson Collection,” which was released recently, takes a closer look at Anderson’s career.

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